in the historic center of oaxaca, mexico, studio alberto franco has carefully repurposed a colonial house from the 1700s to create a temporary store for utilitario mexicano. the design seeks to form a dialogue between new and old, and between the original character of the house and the contemporary objects of utilitario mexicano.

utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca 1

main entrance on matamoros 404

images courtesy of studio alberto franco



studio alberto franco has carefully preserved the original elements of the building. old doors and peeling wall surfaces are not replaced or covered up, but instead, they are respected and left exposed. 

utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca 2

utilitario mexicano trolley for temporary spaces



against the original pastel-colored walls, a second layer of wooden and metallic display units are inserted. these include a metal grid system and the utilitario mexicano trolley, which is typically used by mexican street vendors. these temporary installations exhibit and sell timeless, everyday objects proudly made in mexico and selected by utilitario mexicano. 

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the design respects and preserves the original character of the 1700s house



signs of previous uses and neon lamps occupy their original position, doors show their patina, wooden pillars used in the reconstruction of the property are reused as steps at the entrances to the space. all these elements make up an interior evoking the ephemeral, dialoguing with other times, lives and past activities of the former oaxacan colonial house located in downtown oaxaca.

utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca 4

a metal grid system displays the products for sale



utilitario ambulante with its characteristic furniture thought as ‘temporary’, goes back to the origins of the brand; a collection of objects that was descontextualized by making appearances in design fairs and bazaars over mexico city re-introducing objects and rediscovering the mexican everyday anonymous designs and artifacts. over the years the brand left the temporal behind formalizing its presence with brick and mortar stores and online sales.

utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca 3

original doors and their patina

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utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca by night



project info:


project name: utilitario mexicano ambulante oaxaca

location: 404 matamoros street, oaxaca, mexico

architecture firm: studio alberto franco


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom