A Look at the Design of Noma Mexico, Tulum’s Pop-Up Restaurant Inspired by Local History

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By Gabrielle Golenda / Published by Dwell
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A group of local designers contextualized a historically-inspired space for René Redzepi's pop-up restaurant in Tulum.

Last week, Noma Mexico (sometimes referred to as Noma Tulum) reached the end of it seven-week run. With over 6,000 #nomamexico tags on Instagram, it perhaps became one of the most thoroughly-documented pop-up restaurants in history—admired in terms of both its design and its food. 

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As the story goes, restaurateur René Redzepi closed the doors of Noma in Copenhagen this past February during the restaurant's temporary hiatus. What came forth in its place was a delightful temporary space designed by Tulum-based firm Studio Arquitectos, Noma’s head of research and development Thomas Frebel, Mexican designer Cecilia León de la Barra, and Mexico City-based firm La Metropolitana.

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The unique collaboration set out to capture a mixture of Mexican concepts surrounding the food and history of the Yucatán Peninsula, specifically the traditional open-air markets. By intentionally eliminating any kind of visual barrier, the thatch canopy and heights of the stall created a unique experience for witnessing ancient rituals of Mexican culinary culture.  

Swathed in jungle, the airy built environment called for a bespoke furniture collection specially designed for the NOMA outpost. Utilizing the region’s natural materials, like Tzalam and Chukum, as well as local textiles, Mexican carpenters handcrafted the chairs, benches, and tables. 

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Unlike their past pop-ups in Sydney and Tokyo, the space seemed more ephemeral—almost fleeting. Perhaps it foreshadowed the new Copenhagen location that's set to re-emerge this summer in new facilities with a completely fresh concept. Stay tuned here.

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