Turning a drab office building into a unique speakeasy in the heart of Mexico City

Dirk Jan Kinet has been using our wallpapers to perform magic for many years, transforming spaces with his unique blend of style and vision. Nothing, however, could have prepared us for the awe-inspiring reveal of his latest project: turning a non-descript office into a mesmerising speakeasy in Mexico City. We were so captivated by the elegance and drama of this stunning renovation, we simply had to find out more. Fortunately, Dirk is as generous with his time as he is talented, and he kindly agreed to sit down and share the story behind this spectacular space with us. Join us as we dive into the details of how a drab office space was reborn as a chic, Eastern-inspired hideaway.

What inspired you to pick this specific wallpaper model?

Actually, I had already used that wallpaper once, as part of the redesign of a house I am doing in my neighbourhood. Everything inside was grey, white and black. I wanted something more Eastern-inspired, and I just love this wallpaper, it’s so beautiful! I was invited to create the Speakeasy while Magnolia Network, a cable TV channel that focuses on house redesigns, was doing a show about me. We were filming while visiting this space, which was no longer used, with absolutely nothing in there, just bare walls. I was facing the cameras and so I had to be really creative. I looked around and said “Oh, I'm seeing red and green and black!” as I remembered this wallpaper, which is dramatic but also really chic. It was my starting point, and then I layered in all other elements. One thing I love about your wallpapers is how fast and easy it is to get them. Having products shipped to Mexico, particularly from Europe, can be a very long and problematic process, but yours are always here within a few days. It’s a reliable service and it's one of the things I really like.

Did you design around the wallpaper, or did you look for a model complementing your vision?

A bit of both. For me, a wallpaper is often the starting point for creating a design concept and this is particularly true for this project. Everything you see in the Speakeasy is designed around that specific wallpaper. I used a lot of red and gold, inspired by its pattern. I do that often: my first inspiration is the wallpaper, and then I work with all the colours that are used in the wall décor for the rest of the paint on the walls or for fabrics. This is how powerful wallpaper is to me when it comes to interior design!


Has your perception of the room or its purpose changed after the wallpaper installation?

Oh, totally, because it was a really ugly space, the backroom of a large building in Mexico City, the headquarters of a law firm, and it turned it into something truly elegant. It used to be a small apartment for one of the workers who had just left. The lawyer wanted to repurpose it in a space where to entertain both clients and friends. As it was a backroom, I also had to redesign the entrance of the building, which I decorated with an elegant Versace wallpaper. The contrast between the two spaces worked really well as it creates a fascinating mix, because after the Versace room, you go through a small hallway and then you arrive in this crazy Speakeasy with all this red and green and gold. So, it's like Ali Baba’s cave! You can imagine, even by Mexican standards, this is fairly unusual as a lawyer’s office space. And it's all down to the wallpaper! I think there's not a single wall without wallpaper, including the ceiling. The space looks amazing, because it's like a hidden room with a lot of information… and booze, of course. Mexicans tend to like their drink, so the speakeasy energy is just a great match.

What have guests said about the wallpaper? Any particularly positive or surprising feedback?

I keep hearing a lot of positive feedback regarding the aesthetic. The client mentioned several times how his clients really are flabbergasted by the space as they were not prepared at all, when coming into a normal office building, to find such a striking look. It was designed to be memorable, and I think we achieved that.


Any tips for those seeking to replicate your stunning design in their own homes?

This is not exactly easy for me to answer as I tend to use so many different patterns and styles within the same space. I don't do it on purpose, it’s just my style. You need a good eye and a solid sense of colours and patterns to be able to mix and use more than five different wallpapers in a small room, as it can become really very cacophonic. However, I would encourage them to be bold, as it seems to me sometimes that people are afraid to use patterns and colours. That’s the key: if you use them in a good way, you can really achieve incredible results!

Do you have ideas for future wallpapering projects or design concepts you'd like to explore?

For sure! We have lots of projects going on. We will be present at one of the most important art fairs in Mexico, called Zonamaco, and our concept stand will very likely have wallpaper. More to the point, we're going to participate in a very exclusive, invitation-only gastronomic event in Mexico City. They invited us to design one of the six pop-up restaurants, each with its own famous Latin American chef. We're going to do something really innovative with the two 10-metre-long walls there, using lots of wallpaper, as it’s something that fits with my vision. We are also working on a showroom set in this big old, 100-year-old house in Mexico City, and I can guarantee you there won't be a single wall without wallpaper!