LOOT is one of Mexico’s finest cultural hubs. Brought to Zihuatanejo by Mexico City-designer Andrés Saavedra, the space has become an epicenter of creativity that focuses on design, art, music and surf. There is always something interesting happening at LOOT. It is a space to drink coffee and read a magazine, or shop for beautiful clothing, home decor and art; all in all, a space to experience modern Mexican culture at its finest. A highly-curated group of artists and musicians are constantly shaping and innovating the atmosphere here. All are welcome — LOOT prides itself on being an all-inclusive family of like-minded individuals.
We were lucky enough to work closely with Andrés during our visit to Zihua back in early January, and his passion, generosity and knowledge are really what made our #LiveFASTWinterTour such a stunning success. Upon my return to LA, I was able to pick his brain and find out more about what keeps this idea man inspired and excited about sharing the exciting culture of Zihuatanejo with the rest of the world.
LF: What sparked your move from Mexico City to Zihuatanejo?
AS: I was in love with Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo as a kid. We used to travel here for holidays, I always loved that it was so remote, so exotic. I did my first dive here with my father when I was 11 and I thought it was one of the most beautiful places in the world. My family had a small apartment in Ixtapa so we would come often and the idea of being in a place that was unexplored was so inspiring. The colors, the people, it was so different to anywhere else I had been, how vibrant, alive, bright… I was always happy here. When I was 23, I was really focused on photography. I had a studio in Mexico City but I was looking for a new adventure. I started researching the land that was being offered for sale and convinced my dad that we should do a project together. The idea was to come for a year as the project manager for a development, I fell into the rhythm of coastal living so quickly, started surfing and decided that this is where I wanted to be.
LF: Tell us a little bit about LOOT and what your vision was when creating this space?
AS: Originally, we were looking for an opportunity to build a creative space, more of a workshop concept; a place that we could custom build and innovate ideas. A place that was hands-on, that we could build our furniture and other elements that were more closely aligned with architecture and design… a sort of design centre. Running parallel with this concept we were passionately involved and committed to supporting the surf culture. I was helping my friends with surf shops and events, beach bars and coffee shops. As it seems to happen, things just fall into place and we had the opportunity to purchase a commercial lot. This gave us the opportunity to really explore the neighborhood and the different sub-cultures from the surfing, music, food, coffee, art and design. LOOT came out of our understanding that there was a need to have a place to showcase not only the creative elements but how they can be interacted with and enjoyed. It came out of a need for optimism. Guerrero is one of the poorest States in Mexico, and sometimes in these areas culture is less of a priority. In Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo we have one of the most affluent tourist populations. LOOT took on an evolution of its own combing of all of the ideas and we were able to help the community by providing programming for different cultural events, arts and a variety of manifestations of expression. The space allowed people to do that and so many collaborations begun. The retail aspect connected the community with the creative elements and we were able to create so many different stories naturally. From contemporary art, music, street art murals, pop-ups
…it is not only a business but as an engine to sustain elements that aren’t viable businesses on their own but so important for our community. It has been a platform that works on a number of elements from charities, surf movies, tourism campaigns, fashion-film and aiding local athletes. The main idea is that LOOT is a nucleus of optimism and inspiration in a place where it is needed. I guess that is why Zihuatanejo is cool, I see it as a the land of opportunity and it was a dream to be able to create a stage for all of this to happen within a super sexy and laid back space.
LF: Can you describe your style as a designer? What do you like, what inspires you?
AS: For me personally, I love to explore and see everything as a surprise. I think that the essence of good design is something or somewhere that evokes a sense of new experience. This experience should be totally sensorial from the textures and materials that are used, the way the stone feels, the way the wood looks, the way they smell, how they contrast with the landscape.
There are architectural elements in everything that we do and I consider my style as modern tropical vernacular. Every detail of a project, the local materials that we source, the craftsman that we work with, are important elements and criteria for how we create… we aim to make extraordinary spaces and customized experiences, everything built from scratch.
I am inspired by adventure, everything that is sexy, able to be explored. Anything that has a history behind it from an instrument to an old motorcycle… I like the story and how it can continue story telling after the fact that we use it. Something that we hope stays there and is continued in a different way. A lot of the work that we do are working with elements that are part of the construction, recycled items, old interiors… I like to mix the old with the new. I am also passionate about contemporary art and we have a growing collection that is displayed in LOOT featuring Aldo Chaparro, Stephan Bruggemann, Linnea Gorranson, Adrián S. Bará and Christiaan Conradie. I love what these guys are doing and it has become an important part of our space and inspiration on day-to-day.
A lot of my inspiration comes from the tropics. The stories and adventure that excited me as a kid, the waves, the toys, the journey, the unknown, these are all the same things that inspire me now. The exotic nature of the area coupled with intricate craftsmanship and beauty in general are what drive me.
LF: How would you describe Zihuatanejo to someone who has never been?
AS: I would describe it as the wild west. Time runs slowly here… but despite of that it is a super vibrant community. It is lush and beautiful, some of the freshest food in the world. Beautiful hard-working people, the scenarios, the islands, the waves… it is a really rugged paradise… one that has stood the test of time. Freedom is still embraced here, you can ride in the back of a pick up truck and I love that.
LF: What are some of your favorite places to hang outside of LOOT?
AS: Anywhere there are waves to surf.
El Manglar for tiritas.
La Katrina for Mezcal.
Any chance we get to take “The Pachanga” (boat) out.
The Ranch for amazing breakfast after surf cooked by Doña Julia.
Drinks with Leonel Perez at Catcha L’Ola Surf Shop.
LF: You do a lot to support musical talent… How did you get involved with artists and what’s the story behind the summer series?
AS: One of the things we were really interested to explore was music. Being a music lover and having the space at LOOT we were able to host a series of live acts and Dj’s that we had been admiring. We opened our doors with a small festival called ZankaFest which brought music, surf and street art together. From the festival, we made many connections and have encouraged and try to support as many artists and athletes that we can and look for creative opportunities to collaborate.
Within the first year we were approached by our amazingly talented friend Paco Martinez from the band Centavrvs to support and produce a record label called Rock Juvenil. This project is a tool to identify’s Latin American talent, helps these musicians get going through producing records and promoting these artists.
Summer Fest Series is our intent to create interesting content for the area in the summer months. We are trying be attractive for different types of travellers. Maybe it’s my guilty pleasure but we have made so many amazing connections over the last few years with artist from all over the world that we often get artists who will be headlining at major festivals playing in our small venue. If you are in Zihuatanejo, you should definitely try and coordinate being there for a LOOT weekend, you never know who you will be hanging with.
LF: Can you tell us a little bit about the big new hotel project you are working on?
AS: I wouldn’t call it a big project, but definitely a big idea something that I have been thinking about for years. My focus has been in architecture and construction and with LOOT I have the opportunity to incorporate the hospitality element with all the cool elements of surf, art, music, food. The project is called LOOT SURF HOUSE and I am excited to add this element to what we are doing.
The property is a beautiful point surrounded by surf, it is almost like and island… uncharted territory. You arrive on dirt roads, driving through mango and palm groves. The whole experience becomes an adventure. I want to do something that benefits the region that is super functional, super extraordinary, a place where everyone will want to hang out.
We are doing a LOOT concept, art gallery, recording studio, shaping room and surf shop with beach club, hotel rooms and 22 jungle casitas which will be for sale. There is an amphitheatre to host small concerts on the beach. It is going to be a great fusion of all the things we love.
LF: How often do you surf? When’s the best time to come to Zihua when you’re a surfer?
AS: Not enough. I try to go as much as I can but usually about three times a week… June-September are the best times but there are waves all year so you really can’t wrong. There are always surprise swells popping up.
LF: Is it true what they say that you can’t get a hangover on mezcal?
AS: Absolutely… but only if you ONLY drink mezcal.
LF: What was your favorite moment while the Babes on Tour were in town?
AS: I really enjoyed the whole visit but was thankful to connect more personally with the whole crew of amazing babes the last night in Hotel Viceroy. Mezcal always gets the truth flowing…
LF: How FAST do you live?
AS: As fast as the ideas come….