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Sitting on a Secret

Written by Sally Finder Weepie

Who knew? The refined aesthetic of high-end Mexican furniture designers was hiding in plain sight—until Amanda and Sebastian Reant’s revelationary visit to Mexico City. “We fell in love with this wealth of talent that wasn’t crossing the border,” Amanda says.

Their love gave life to a company, Luteca, which now parks Mexican craft right in your U.S. living room.

Luteca, with its main showroom in New York and a second now open in Mexico City, is unique in that it’s a U.S. company focused on Mexican design. “Mexican design was such a secret—so unknown, so misunderstood,” Amanda says. “We wanted to bring it to a greater audience.”

Luteca discovers and works with contemporary Mexican designers to bring their creations to the marketplace—and also manufactures collectible pieces from Mexican design icons like Michael van Beuren. The American designer, trained in Europe at the prestigious Bauhaus school before settling in Mexico, is credited for bridging the gap between the modernist design movement and local Mexican craftsmanship.

His “Alacrarda” chair won a MoMA award for organic design in 1941. “It was in production for a few years in the U.S. and available through Bloomingdales, and then it wasn’t available here,” Amanda says. “We custom-make the leather strapping for the webbing. It’s really stunning.”

Alongside iconic pieces are new offerings that Amanda feels equally excited about.

The “Eugenio” upholstered dining chair by Luteca Studio, Amanda says, is contemporary but feels timeless. Its elegant scissor legs and floating back were inspired by the Mexican midcentury chairs of Eugenio Escudero that overlooked the Bacochibampo Bay of Sonora in the 1950s.

The “Dorcia” daybed by contemporary designer Jorge Arturo Ibarra, meanwhile, was inspired by the architecture of Luis Barragán. The unique piece features bolsters that multitask as headrests, armrests, or low-back rests and allow the daybed to also be used as a chair.

Furniture is produced at Luteca’s factories in Mexico and the U.S., showing the international flavor that defines the company and its owners. Amanda, who is from Britain, handled marketing for high-end furniture and design companies. Sebastian’s parents and grandparents were involved in hospitality design in Paris. “Design is in our blood,” Amanda says. “We’re passionate about furniture.”

Amanda says her own evolving style preferences also can be seen in the company’s ethos. “I used to like trendy things,” she says. “Now I’m much more interested in timeless pieces.”

Timelessness is a hallmark of Luteca’s pieces—and to luxury Mexican design. “There’s a familiarity to Mexican design. It feels like it could be Swedish, or it could be from elsewhere in Europe. It could be from any era,” Amanda says. “The rich history of the country has brought in so many different influences. All of these elements come together in a unique international perspective.”

She and husband Sebastian want to reflect that in Luteca. “We want to be an inclusive company— international, multicultural. We want to highlight design that might otherwise not come out of Mexico,” Amanda says. “For me, success is bringing awareness to an entire design culture that was misunderstood and largely undiscovered. We have changed opinions about Mexican design. And that’s brought me the most joy about starting Luteca.”