Studio Brunstrum

Design Inspiration: Zihuatanejo, Mexico

March 26, 2018

I rarely vacation in the same spot twice, but was happy to make an exception for Zihuatanejo (Spanish pronunciation: si-wata-neho). I returned recently with my daughter Kelsey to visit my Dad and Karen for four days of sun and relaxation in this beautiful town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

We enjoyed strolling Playa La Ropa beach, exploring restaurants (Coconuts, Porto di Mare, Trattoria da Giannni’s and La Escollera), paddle boarding, sailing and having a daily deep tissue massage at Deisy’s. I love Zihuatanejo because it isn’t touristy or pretentious. The same people come back year after year.

My Dad has spent the last 38 winters in Zihuatanejo and there is still not a single American hotel. He does have his own umbrella, otherwise known as a palapa at Paty’s Marimar restaurant on the beach where he spends most of his days talking with just about everyone. Paty is known for her chicken noodle and tortilla soups and her guacamole. I must admit we ate breakfast and lunch there every day!

Ziha (as the locals call it) just feels authentic and friendly, and again I was inspired by the people, the landscape and the architecture. This year I focused on the natural patterns of the geography – the way the waves made ripples in the sand, the clusters of coral beneath the ocean and the striated patterns of the rocks on the hillside.

There was a storm a long way off that was stirring up larger waves and creating totally unique patterns in the sand. I was completely enamored with them, and I know I’ll be incorporating the organic swirls and ridges into rug and fabric designs in the coming year.

While the landscape is full of calming and tranquil hues, the people of Ziha live in so much bright, bold color in their homes, buildings and clothing. I found lots of pattern in unexpected places… a thatched roof, fences and beautiful stonework.


Last year the natural color palette influenced me – I incorporated the blues, greens and neutrals throughout the year on client projects. This visit, I detected more nuance in the colors. I guess it’s like reading a book for the second time – you take note of details that you skimmed over the first time around.

From both a design and a vacation aspect, Ziha was an incredible trip! For anyone able to head over to Mexico’s Pacific Coast, I highly suggest you make the trek to Zihuatanejo and experience the rich and vibrant landscape and local culture for yourself.

Susan Brunstrum
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