If Italian design is a synonym for quality and beauty around the world, in Mexico it can have no better ambassador than Maria Laura Medina de Salinas, head director of Esencial, one of the main distributors and dealers of excellent Italian furnishing brands in that country.

The link to design of this fascinating woman, also known for having married Ricardo Salinas Pliego, one of the most important businessmen in Mexico, is no coincidence, since it comes from a true passion cultivated since childhood, leading to a design degree at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara.

Aesthetics,” she says, “has always played a leading role in my life. I was still a girl, but I already liked to look closely at a beautiful table setting, or a special object; rather than fashion magazines, I preferred the ones on interior design; in general, I’ve always been fascinated by spaces that have great personality.”

How did you manage to turn this passion into a profession, mostly focusing on Italian style?
In 2004 the opportunity arose to take part in a project called Esencial, to bring to Mexico, to Guadalajara, a selection of the best furnishing brands and show them to architects and interior designer, but also to any type of clientele. It seemed only natural to include Italian design brands. Since then we have made agreements with many.
The next step was to extend our activity to Mexico City. We can rely on an efficient infrastructure and large, well-located spaces that allow us to display products in beautiful showrooms, to make our customers dream. Great attention to design and display, an offering of furniture and complements differentiated by price range, in a good assortment, are key parts of the Esencial philosophy. The goal is to respond to a wide range of needs regarding our everyday living space.
The Italian furniture brands that work with the best designers and produce items of impeccable quality fit perfectly into our mission. As time passes, and thanks to my lifestyle, my perception of aesthetics has evolved, allowing me to put the offerings of Esencial into focus, to move towards a special collection that combines beauty and functional quality in a simple, natural way, with notes of color and special touches represented by textures and accessories.

Tell us more about your relationship with Italy. Do you visit often, particularly in Milan, for the Salone del Mobile?
I have always loved to travel and Italy is certainly one of my favorite destinations. I am attracted by its diversity, history, culture, food, art, architecture. Of course Milan, during the Salone del Mobile, is a must: for me it is very important, but it is also a great pleasure to take part in the many events that happen in that week. If I can’t make it to Milan in that period, I send my staff to look at the new trends and new products. The information and the suggestions are then shared with the whole team, allowing us to offer our clients the best and most updated solutions.

With its two large multibrand stores, one in Mexico City and one in Guadalajara, Esencial is a reference point for Mexican professionals in the field of contemporary interior design. How is your activity structured today, and what are the most important projects now under way?
Being in one of the world’s biggest cities, for us it was fundamental to represent the most prestigious design brands. Our evolution is constant, as can be seen in the opening of the first monobrand store in Mexico of Christian Liaigre. Esencial is a concept that includes everything: furniture, accessories, colors, lighting. We can rely on a team of architects and designers that offers clients complete service for the design of spaces. We work on projects of all kinds: libraries, restaurants, hotels, yachts, private jets, hangars, all the way to residential projects in the city, by the sea, in the country, as well as corporate projects…
Esencial can guarantee the supply of many products on a tight schedule, thanks to a very large stock. We like to create styles and trends, to discovering unique, original pieces. At the moment we are involved in several projects, including Myst, a musical performance that is unique, for which we have handled the lighting, the graphic design and of course the set furnishings. We are also working on a range of residential projects in Guadalajara and other parts of the country.

What are the Italian furnishing brands Esencial represents and distributes in Mexico? Who are the most important architects with whom you work?
We work with various Italian brands, given the fact that each of them offers different products to respond to the different design needs that arise, case by case. Those we most often utilize are B&B Italia, Maxalto, Promemoria, Jesse, Flos, Contardi. WE have the good fortune to work with large, very important studios. They include Emilio Cabrero, Andrea Cesarman and Marco Coello, Beatriz Peschard and Alejandro Bernardi, Lorena Vieyra, Ofelia Uribe and Erica Krayer, Amín Suárez and Joshua Borenstein, Gloria Cortina, Ignacio Cadena, A911, Mauricio Gómez de Tuddo and many others.

Esencial collaborates on the most prestigious homes in Mexico. How have tastes evolved in recent years in home decoration? 
I believe interior design in general has become a more important, more highly specialized field, whose evolution remains in step with that of architecture, graphic design and industrial design. In this evolution interior design has opened up to different trends and expressions that now permit new perspectives of growth and new business opportunities.

Tell us about your house…
My taste is different with respect to the one proposed by the Italian brands we represent. I am always inspired by famous designers and architects like Antonio Citterio, Christian Liaigre, Patricia Urquiola and many others, from whom I get the sensibility Esencial sets out to transfer into its projects. In my personal choices, I get involved starting from the construction, all the way to the smallest details, which gives me a chance to experiment with new ideas.
I think the environment and the objects that surround me should have a spirit, a reason for being, a powerful energy that makes me appreciate the space in which I live. For this reason, in my homes I always like to insert some pieces found during my travels. I like to quote a phrase of Estrid Ericson, with which I identified as soon as I read it: “This is my home and this is my personality.” The mixture of contemporary products, art, antiques and personal things gathered around the world makes me appreciate my homes more, where I have unforgettable memories, where I live happy moments with my family and friends. Thank you for having brought Mexico into Italy with this issue.

Text by Maddalena Padovani

gallery gallery
Maria Laura Medina de Salinas seated on the Moon System upholstered furniture by Zaha Hadid for B&B Italia, one of the Italian design brands represented and distributed by Esencial, the company where the entrepreneur is head director.
gallery gallery
View of her home in Guadalajara, furnished with famous pieces Made in Italy.
gallery gallery
View of her home in Guadalajara, furnished with famous pieces Made in Italy.
gallery gallery
The Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City designed by Alberto Kalach, one of the most important architectural projects for which Esencial has supplied the furnishings.
gallery gallery
The Esencial Puerta de Hierro showroom in Guadalajara.
gallery gallery
An installation created for Design Week Mexico 2014.
gallery gallery
The window of the new Christian Liaigre showroom at Polanco, Mexico City.