YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

© logo 粤ICP备19077098号

YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

© logo 粤ICP备19077098号

CO-LAB Design Office

Joshua Beck and Joana Gomes founded co-lab in 2010 in Los Angeles. In 2013, the studio moved to Tulum. For them, design is a cumulative process, not a product of "genius sketches".

Joshua Beck has 26 years of experience in the field of architecture and building combined. He was also a trained wooden boat builder and a skilled craftsman. Joana Gomes graduated in architecture from the University of Porto (FAUP) in 2005 and joined Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV as a designer in 2006. They are inspired by the natural beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula and the studio aspires to connect indivuals with Nature through their design projects, blending the built environment with the surrounding landscape.The studio is committed to sustainable design principles and works with locally sourced natural materials, resulting in spaces that are harmonious with their environment.

Yinji:The design practice of CO-LAB revolves around establishing a closer connection with nature. When and how did this idea develop?

CO-LAB:The concept of establishing a closer connection with nature has been a fundamental aspect of CO-LAB DESIGN OFFICE from its inception. Both partners spend a lot of time in nature, exercising, grounding, and inspiring themselves. Nature inspires us, has transformative power on human well-being, and is an eternal source of learning. The idea gained dimension as we moved to Tulum, where the beauty of the surroundings became a constant source of inspiration. 

Yinji:The natural landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula has inspired your creative ideas. How did these inspirations translate into your architectural or design language?

CO-LAB:The Yucatan Peninsula's natural beauty, from its lush jungles to the serene coastline, has profoundly influenced our design language. Its tropical climate allows for an open-air lifestyle that is in continual relation with nature. Most of the local architecture consists of open spaces covered with a thatch roof, open to Nature, allowing the breeze and the elements to be a part of the space experience. We design with these indoor-outdoor relationships in mind, integrating organic forms, sustainable materials, and open spaces to mimic the harmonious balance found in nature. Our architectural designs often feature expansive windows, seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces, and landscaping that blurs the boundaries between built structures and the environment. 

We take the time to study each site before starting the design, analyzing the orientation, the sun path, light and wind directions, and the existent trees. There are many beautiful trees, and we feel the responsibility to preserve them. We also work with local traditional materials giving them a modern voice, opting for a color palette that blends with the landscape, rather than competing with it. 

Yinji:What cognitive or aesthetic factors lead CO-LAB to prioritize the use of local natural materials and handcrafted finishes in each project?

CO-LAB:Our commitment to using local natural materials and handcrafted finishes stems from both cognitive and aesthetic considerations. From a cognitive perspective, it's about sustainable practices, minimizing our environmental impact, and supporting local economies. Aesthetically, these materials bring a unique character to each project, telling a story rooted in the region's culture and craftsmanship. There's a timeless quality to locally sourced materials that resonates with our values, aesthetics, and the world we want to create.

Yinji:Collaboration with local craftsmen or artisans is a crucial aspect of your project construction process. In what ways is this collaboration significant, and could you provide a brief example?

CO-LAB:Collaborating with local craftsmen and artisans is integral to our ethos. Their expertise adds a layer of authenticity to our projects, creating spaces with a deep connection to the local culture. In every project of ours, the walls and floors are rendered manually by local craftsmen, with custom-made finishes, giving them a unique quality. We worked closely with artisans to handcraft bespoke furniture using traditional techniques. This provides employment opportunities for the local community but also infuses the space with a distinct character that could only be achieved through such collaboration.

Our workspace combines a design studio and workshop, allowing us to prototype furniture and experiment with materials and finishing techniques. With in-house fabrication, we develop designs and techniques in the workshop that we then deliver to our on-site building team and artisans for execution. Our expertise in construction has deepened our knowledge about the different processes which has then allowed us to custom design solutions that are difficult to get in Tulum. By continuing the design through the construction, interiors, and landscaping we can deliver integrated, holistic projects with better control over the quality and costs. 

Yinji:The relationship between nature and architecture or space is increasingly emphasized. As the editor for the "Nature" theme in YIN 2023, how do you perceive this trend?

CO-LAB:The emphasis on the relationship between nature and architecture in YIN 2023 reflects a global shift towards sustainable and mindful design. The trend acknowledges the impact of our built environment on well-being, as well as the impact of our well-being in our built (and unbuilt) environment. 

We find it an exciting opportunity to showcase innovative approaches that integrate nature seamlessly into design, fostering a deeper connection between individuals and their surroundings. This trend is not just a style; it's a paradigm shift toward creating spaces that prioritize both human and environmental health.