What can I say about San Miguel de Allende that hasn’t already been said! It’s a Mexican jewel, up in the mountains about 3hrs drive north of Mexico City. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a thriving artist and maker community - including the workshop of Stray Dog Designs. Locals and expats alike, have known about the beauty of SMA for years, but only on my visit this past winter did I really get a feel for the place.
An astonishing - but not entirely surprising - thing happened while I was walking around the jardin and down the various streets on my way to and from, I realized that inspiration for Stray Dog Designs’ pieces can be found around every corner, in every courtyard, and in the local wares sold by the artisan community. Follow along as I take you on a tour of San Miguel and all of it's charming details.
Although there are indigenous Otomi people who live in the area, their Highland cousins are known for their fantasmic hand embroidery. It’s no wonder that the colorful wildlife print appears on literally everything! You can find Otomi napkins, textiles, clothing, purses, tiles - you name it! So when you look at the Paulina Otomi Pendant, you’re actually looking at a piece of local charm.
Walking around the stores and the market, one of the things you notice is the amount of beautiful tin pressed decor. Everything from bird cages, to birds, hearts, iconography, and more. There are little bits of color everywhere you look, and all for a very reasonable price. You get a feel for this when you look at the Grady Floor Lamp, or any of their lantern designs like the Vincent Lantern. They’d fit right in with any of the colorful designs on offer.
Perhaps Stray Dog Designs is best known for its nature inspired pieces like the Chucho Chandelier, the Willow Chandelier, or the Lula Flush Mount. The local ties there are obvious, because giant Agave plants, Sansevedras and cacti abound. They’re curves, colors and forms are a feast for the eyes.
The willow trees adorn some of the parks and sweeping calles, while beautiful flowers and plants reminiscent of the Lily Cluster Table peek out of courtyards, and rooftop gardens. The Efrain Sconce reminds me of the smell you get walking past a wall of Bougainvillea. If only I could bottle it up!
The Mercado contains inspiration everywhere. From the flower stalls to the market itself (a series of winding canals and shopfronts packed to the brim) to the mosaics in the public gardens, and the seemingly weekly festivals and events! I feel like the spirit of the local market comes alive in the chandelier designs, through the use of colors and shapes, but you could say that about the architecture in the streets as well.
We had the pleasure of being in town during a religious event, el SEÑOR DE LA CONQUISTA, during which various dance crews (throwbacks to the local tribes in the mountains around) in Aztec costume danced around the Jardin in front of the Parroquia, to the sound of drums. The plumage, the artisanry, and the colors on display were truly stupendous. The day opened with fireworks and closed with fireworks, while the dance troupes danced from sunrise to sunset. The stripes remind me the most of the Norma Table Lamp.
I can’t recommend you go visit enough! It’s well worth the trek, and like many before you, you’ll want to make the move there permanently. In case a trip isn’t in your cards anytime soon, you could always buy a piece from Stray Dog Designs
*Ariel is the voice behind PMQ for two, an interior, DIY and lifestyle blog dedicated to living in color. She recently visited SMA this past winter, and was floored by the beauty on display. If you want to see videos or more photos from her trip to SMA, check out her Instagram account where she has highlight reels saved from her trip *