Travel Inspirations

Design is both Wave + Particle

Design is both Wave + Particle

the elemental attraction of culture, nature, and discovery

Artists have been inspired by the sacred beauty of New Mexico since a time that was before time. The landscape bends the heart in a multitude of directions. Walking rain over a silver mesa feels romantic, the blaze of a blue sky over a canyon wall energizes, and thriving rivers promise summer days to come. It is no wonder that New Mexico has inspired so many cultural works of art throughout history.

Particle: Design like Travel happens in an actual space. It really does! You are either paddleboarding through the rose canyons of the Rio Grande, or you are not. You are transformed by the Design choices (art, textiles, light) of an interior, or you are not. And these natural and created spaces thrill us because they actually exist.

Wave: After a travel adventure or a visit to a cultural destination, you go home with a sense of place, a recalibration of spirit, and an elevation of mind. Small annoyances at work don’t bother you as much, you might try your hand at making your own red chile, and your overall outlook has brightened.

This week we hear from Heritage Inspirations CEO + Inspired Guide Angelisa Espinoza Murray, as she explores the connection between culture, nature, and discovery. From gorgeous table-scapes, to a journal inspired website, and storytelling guides, Angelisa incorporates beauty, nature, and culture into every aspect of H.I. ‘s tours. Read along and discover why her lively friendship with Cultural Designer Kris Lajeskie reflects a synergy of spirit and a love of place and design.

Anee: Can you tell me a little more about the origin of your friendship with Kris Lajeskie and how Chaco played a role?

Angelisa: I was introduced to Kris Lajeskie through Jim Long when our Chaco Day tours and the Hotel Chaco were in the beginning stages. Early on, Kris and I found ourselves in Chaco Canyon for the December 21st Winter Solstice National Park Service Program. We watched the solstice sun rise in the east and how the light aligned with the many core and veneer structures throughout Chaco.

That morning we were specifically at Kin Kletso Great House. We connected as soul sisters bonded in our desire to preserve, honor and illuminate culture authentically in our work. Never a dull moment when Kris and I are together, our conversations overflow with laughter, connection, and shared wisdom.

The lobby of the Hotel Chaco features Chacoan Cylinder vessels inspired by archeological finds of Pueblo Bonito and reconstructed by Lajeskie in collaboration with artisans from Acoma Pueblo. Currently we are discussing recreating these vessels for our guests and incorporating the traditional cacao ceremony into our archeoastronomy glamping tours.

In fact, the entire landscape or geomorphology of H.I. has been intentional about our design. I have always had an affinity and fascination with sacred geometry and how design connects me to the memory of place. Even the handwriting font on our website reflects a personal story. The font is my actual handwriting inspired by my own travel journals and adventures of self discovery. When crafting a Heritage Inspirations experience we draw on the rich opportunities to teach about design, art, and the peoples who shape this earth. It is our hope that our guests will see with new eyes, while taking comfort in the archetypal.

Explore our website to find out more about our artful tours including a visit to Kris Lajeskie’s World of Bohemia (15% off for H.I. guests) for one of our Santa Fe Day Cultural Tours. Liven up your vacation with an afternoon of contagious laughter, artisanal designs curated by Kris, and the vibrancy of Santa Fe culture.

Book your stay at Hotel Chaco to experience Kris’ designs in person, or reserve your spot for a Chaco Day Trip or our Multi-Day Chaco Glamping adventures to see the cultural site yourself, and if you want to make the most of your day in ABQ sign up for one of E-Bike adventures.

This week we are joined by Cultural Designer Kris Lajeskie. A H.I. kindred spirit and partner, Kris reflects on the role that archetypal and elemental forces play in creating her transformative spaces. Her designs are sought out by hotels, historic residences, retail spaces, and well-being spas.

Read along to find out more her vision and inspiration for projects such as the Hotel Chaco, Hotel St. Francis, Hotel Chimayo, currently hotel El Monte Sagrado in Taos, the penthouse suite at Buffalo Thunder, Rancho Alegre, the Museum of New Mexico gift shop, Cielo retail stores, the World of Bohemia boutique in Santa Fe, and her latest personal development of Casa Tua Santa Fe, historic sanctuaries re-envisioned as residences.

“Travel gives me the kind of freedom I need. As a designer and creator, there is so much output involved, travel allows me to breathe-in to refuel. I’m interested in cultures around the world, and seek out countries/regions that are intensely artisanal. When I return I am refreshed – with new creative energy and excitement.”

A Conversation with Cultural Designer Kris Lajeskie and H.I.enthusiast Anee Ward :

Anee: When did you first feel the passion for design? What spaces, designers, color palettes, cultures, inspired you?

Kris: Very interesting you should ask; I had left a major corporate career with Macy’s and came to Santa Fe to live out a much more balanced and natural life. For literally a year straight – I went on a different adventure with my Choc lab and my Jeep every day, and became somewhat of an archaeologist and Southwest adventure woman.

My main focus was the Ancient Puebloan culture through the four corners – with emphasis on Chaco Canyon. People started hearing about the places I was exploring, and asked if they could come along. Before you know it – I was doing very small tours. One epic tour was an 8- day SUV caravan through all the ruin sites in the 4 Corners region, and on it, I met my future husband.

As a thank-you to 4 corners trip – my future husband invited me to raft down the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon – and the rest was history. Soon after, he moved into the adobe house I was renting from the ambassador of Tunisia on the historic East side of Santa Fe. Knowing they would be kindred spirits, I introduced him to JW Eaves, who had an iconic Western movie set, south on the 14. JW sold us a ranch across the street. We then went on to create Rancho Alegre. A 200-acre ranch and built a 28,000 sq ft adobe from scratch.

I knew nothing about architecture or interiors – I just knew our mission was to pay homage to the amazing cultures of the Southwest and use master artisans to create all of it. The entire master bath wing, we recreated Chacoan architecture, where I used actual photos of the stone banding and viga configurations, that I had taken from my trips and studies of Chaco Canyon.

Anee: Can you tell me a little bit about the Hotel Chaco chapter?

Kris: When Jim Long shared that I would be the interior designer for a ground-up hotel – whose theme was Chaco Canyon, I about fainted. He hadn’t seen Rancho Alegre – and he didn’t know that I had been studying Chaco for 20 years. Working with the architecture firm of Gensler, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They, along with Jim Long, wholeheartedly understood and embraced my vision for both the public and guest rooms.

I was privileged to handpick the artisans who created the public artworks for the hotel. Having been in New Mexico for 20 years, I was familiar with all the great Native artisans, and was able to collaborate with them to create site specific installations for the hotel. Many of the artisans would be ancestors of the Chacoan civilization!

Anee: Can you tell us a little more about your relationship to the Heritage Inspirations and Angelisa?

Kris: I love Angelisa, and have been one of her ardent supporters from the beginning. The first time she was brought on by Jim Long I saw her passion, her potential, the brightness in her eyes. As business women, we have to inspire and help each other. Angelisa has taken what is inside her, and learned to manifest it, she has crystalized her vision. And we definitely share the love of Chaco.

Anee: How do you want people to feel in the spaces you design? What kind of takeaway do you want them to have?

Kris: I clearly never went to school for design, yet I learned to trust my intuitions, my sense of place and function. I am still thankful to the Rancho Alegre project for opening these doors for me.

It is my hope that my designs will inspire guests to dive deep into the culture, the history, the aesthetic, and the techniques of the region. I am drawn to relevant materials and methodology, the dynamics of light, and the creative duet of tradition and interpretation.

H.I. has designed many tours to take you deep into the world of design and artistry, check out
Abiquiu Artisan Tour, Taos Walking Artisan Tour, Gardens and Galleries E-Bike Tours, Viva  la Cultura High Road Studio Tour, Private Vault Dinner at the Spanish Colonial Art Museum, Mezcla Cultural Walking Tour of Old Town ABQ