Photography: Carl Bower Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss
Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss, who make up the Mexico City design firm Pedro & Juana, are obsessed with materiality. Take any one of their projects—from a couch named Frank, upholstered in jaundice-colored gunny fabric, to the tessellated façade of an annex to a colonial-era house in Yucatán—and you find a meditation on how seeing, and touching, is believing. “There is no such thing as honesty of the material,” say Galindo and Reuss. “It is all about a continuous negotiation with textures, colors, space, smell, and sound.”

We are thrilled to be working in Chicago, and of course we have been inspired and contaminated by it. We were assigned an interesting site with its own urban microclimate—Randolph Square, an interior public space on the north side of the ground floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, the main venue for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. It’s a building with some history and a strange grandeur—and it’s challenging to engage. During the course of the biennial, Randolph Square will continue to serve as the “living room of the city”—as it’s known around town. The people that usually come and use the space will continue to do so, and they will be inside of our space without necessarily having to be visitors of the biennial.

We are suspicious of “big ideas,” and we want to give the public the choice to find their own part within what we are developing for Randolph Square. We can say this much right now: We are dealing with space, objects, and bodies, and how they relate to one another. We are playing with the idea of the object as it is perceived in space and how it is affected by color, texture, movement, and technology. It is important for all of these elements to relate to a space that is highly used and functional, and the biennial won’t change anything about that (with the exception of some related programming). In a way, then, the integrity of the intervention is about allowing the design to come out on its own terms, not imposing a specific rule set from the beginning.

It’s impossible to claim that any of our projects is a discrete investigation. Part of the way we work is within continuous disorder, one project feeding off of the other. We see it more as a perpetual investigation—one that mixes research with objects and vice versa. We do not like to think about a predominant conceptual idea. Rather, each of the objects that we design has a conceptual response to the context, to one another, and to us. —As told to William Richards

Pedro & Juana is one of more than 60 official participants in the Chicago Architecture Biennial (Oct. 3, 2015–Jan. 3, 2016), sponsored in part by the AIA. Learn more at