The breeze blows through the massive open doors to the showroom and gallery of Fausto Polanco Furniture in Rosarito Beach. Your first sight is an explosion of turquoise pottery, a feast for the senses in infinite shapes. Sunlight creates deep shade and spotlights the inner grassy court yard of what feels like an old hacienda. The element of water pours from stunning disks of metal hanging on the wall. A sidewalk beckons you to explore deep into expansive interiors of the gallery’s collection that are sure to impact you in mysterious ways.
Rosarito Beach has had a reputation of being a destination for the weekend party goers, but over the last 10 years, with the help of Mayor Hugo Torres, the town has been challenged to create a new image. Today, the success attracts some of the finest Mexican artists, musicians and restaurants. Rosarito now invites more upscale visitors and has created a new look. But before this change happened a visionary decided to build his dream here. Fausto Polanco started with humble beginnings, but followed the deep inner call to create an extraordinary home furnishing gallery. It is easy to see that much of his creation and success is because of his warm and exciting personality. Easy to talk to, he loves sharing his world and a whole afternoon goes by in the wonder of finding such a truly unique Mexican experience.
He shared with me how he sees what he has accomplished by merging traditions of the past with today’s modern influences. He honors the extraordinary handwork of “master Mexican craftsmen of the traditional past.” He selects only the most “noble woods, fine textiles and hand tooled leathers.” Fausto calls the result “Mestizo” and with eyes flashing he added, “A true reflection of the new Baja style.”
Fausto has created an adventure. It is much more than a walk through a furniture store; it is actually a walk through the story of Mexican culture. It is a true gallery of art that includes influences from all over Mexico. These are displayed in each elegant room. The tall ceilings gives a sense of almost a cathedral like quality. Each room has its own theme and color scheme. The gallery is full of reds, royal blues with splashes of multicolor woven textiles from artisans of mainland Mexico. Over-stuffed beds, massive sofas and chairs are accompanied by pillows from the Mayan artisans. A coffee table may utilize the root system from a majestic mesquite and the wood itself seems to shine from within. Rugs might be of a full size cowhide or the hide might be inlaid into the front of a hand-burnished bar with heavy metal rings. The walls display huge canvases of bold colorful scenes of Mexican markets or blazing birds of paradise. Walking through curved arches, a new line of furniture is found from the state of Jalisco, called Paloma. It is a display of creamy hand tooled leathers covering stylish Victorian couches and chairs. A casual Mexican- crafted ottoman is dressed up using the fine leather design and tooled leather is exquisite in combination with contemporary straight back chairs and dark burnished wood.
There was one room near the end of my exploration that stopped me in my tracks. I was certain I had just entered a sultan’s lounge. I am not sure if Fausto had that intention, but the massive couches invited me to sink into them. A grouping of enormous candles longed to be touched by a flame. The lighting was mysteriously romantic with a cluster of long metal chandeliers created starlight on the walls. Fausto moved into the room and was happy to see me still in the wonder of his amazing collection. His warmth and welcome gives a person the sense of true Mexican hospitality. The story was to be found in his life and how the gallery came to be. He was born and raised in northern Baja, before most roads were paved and before the wave of U.S. influence. All of this time, as a boy and into his teens, he was so proud to be Mexican. He aspired to express it in a way that would reflect the beauty of Mexico and bring that influence to the border communities. What he saw was something that would be very “original” for Baja California. Clearly he was an early visionary and wanted to bring together culture, art and design to Rosarito in what he calls a “fusion” of old Mexico with the modern world of the Mexican artisans.
He started with one table and four chairs. He began to travel all over Mexico talking with the artisans and sharing his ideas of creating furnishing for the young Mexican families or foreign travelers that wanted a touch of Mexico’s “nostalgic past.” He also envisioned something he refers to as “elegant Border living combined with true comfort.” His collection grew. He reclaimed wood and antique doors. He sought out “character pieces” and set about restoration of antiques. He went into the villages carrying a bottle of tequila, sat down with the locals, getting to know them in a way that is familiar in Mexico. The people are now his family and the love is seen in the finest detail. Travelers who know beauty and quality will instantly recognize it here. The gallery is very close to the international border and within an easy weekend trip. Fausto Polanco’s story is a lush tapestry of a man with boundless vision, woven together by his passionate love of beauty, melding into a delicious fusion with his Mexican pride.
Blvd. Benito Juárez 22400
Martina's email: mteomaya(at)gmail.com