Cover Story

Casa Cor

Fine design on expo at the former Crystal Suites

By Jacob Ehrler

Casa Cor
Photographer Raisa Mar in the long marine hall designed by Mallol & Mallol, which used one of her photographs as wallpaper.
Casa CorBack-lit water photos by Raisa Mar at Casa Cor.

The old Crystal Suites Hotel, located on the corner of Ave. Samuel Lewis and Vía Brasil, is the site of Panama City's annual interior design event, Casa Cor. In the tradition of this internationally-celebrated event, the old hotel (also known as Edificio Caracol) has been gutted and re-vamped to show off the latest and trendiest options in interior design, architecture and technology. It is open to the public through May 27.

A visit can easily last a couple of hours, with each room attended by friendly and knowledgable hosts to explain each detail of the space to those who are interested. There is no sales pressure, just above-par attention with a smile.

Art in the hallways is a big part of this event. Among these artists with their works on display is Raisa Mar, a photographer whose abstract water photo was used by the architectural firm Mallol & Mallol to decorate a beach themed tunnel on the top floor of the expo.

A walk from one end of the hall to another affords observers sounds from different parts of the sea, from whale songs to music for dancing on the beach. Each space on the top floor was decorated to be a room in a beachfront apartment, a theme that stays right in line with Panama's luxury real estate trend, much of which has spread from the capital city to the beach areas of late.

The other areas leave nothing to desire, with spaces to please every member of the household. There is also sales of pre-Colombian gold reproductions by Reprosa and an art expo by Panama's sweetheart painter, Olga Sinclair. A cafe offers refreshments and a formal restaurant on the terrace provides the perfect setting to enjoy a meal at the end of what is sure to be an enjoyable visit.

How Casa Cor began

Casa CorVisitors to Casa Cor appreciate a chandelier made of origami figurines in the "Barcelona Bachelor Loft" display.

In 2007, according to Casa Cor president Lilia Esther García De Paredes de De León, Panama's first celebration of this Brazil-based event took place at the Santo Tomas Hospital on Balboa Avenue. Other locations have included the old Colegio Javier in Casco Viejo and Mansión Danté on Calle 50.

"My inspiration to organize this event began when I lived in Argentina, where I always enjoyed a similar event," reports Lilia, "I have always had a great appreciation for architecture and design."

Entrance costs $15. Hours are Tuesdays to Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 8:00 p.m. and Sundays noon to 7:00 p.m.