Sonora Art Village Mary Jilavyan and Davit Jilavyan

Desert quarantine: Mary and Davit rethink the village

These are short interviews with designers, manufacturers, artists, and residents who use the tiny bits of urbanity we generally call street furniture. This interview was conducted over email and edited for clarity.


Well I (Mary) work with my brother Davit. We’ve never thought about working together, but we’re very much alike: we have similar ideas and interests so it is easy to us work together. We even finish each other’s phrases! We always tell people our joke about being twins just with difference in age in 5 years! Now we are opening our own multifunctional studio of visual art.  

In 2019 we made a desert house concept in Mexico for our friends. We didn’t expect so many people to like it and were very surprised. A lot of people have been writing to us about their feelings, saying they’re inspired by this project, and for us it was very important and enjoyable. Maybe that confession meant we were doing something right. It’s been almost a year.

The world has changed a lot over this time; unfortunately not for the better.

We’ve been working very hard this year. Sitting in self-isolation, surrounded by four walls, it occurred to us to create a whole village from houses like Sonora House. We wanted to create a place where people can come and feel for a while in a completely different place, far from the grey reality, to feel in some bright 3D space, or even a cartoon. It’s a place free from prejudice. There’s no place for racism, sexism, humiliation. We tried to create a completely different atmosphere that would exude joy, love, and happiness. 

We were inspired by the works of great masters Ricardo Bofill and Luis Barragan. Their buildings are still very relevant: people take photos of them, shoot in the movies, do something similar, using some elements, and we are among them.

This is not just ordinary architecture, but a work of art. 

We live in a very ugly and cruel world: reality isn’t movie, isn’t picture; reality is very dull and cheerless. People are just passing around the buildings and never mention it because the most architecture is quite grey. We like to mention that we like strict architecture too, but we feel that the world needs colors. Bofill and Barragan get that long time ago and created one of most amazing buildings ever 😄 So we think that us being in self-isolation helped us to put our negative energy and sadness in something right. So we created our Sonora Art Village

Community buildings have to be comfortable for people and it have to meet the people needs. Now being the witnesses of pandemic we see that community buildings and spaces were not ready for it. Now the most important is to change architecture – making it more practical but also not a detriment to appearance. We think that there is a need to develop vertical gardening and creating parks in the cities. There is absolutely no fresh air in the cities and it’s a problem. Also we think that lot of people would love to move to suburbs so we think that that direction have to be developed too.

Village view

It’s a bit hard to answer what is typology to us, it’s definitely needful in cities but at the same time it kills the uniqueness. We fell that there’s lack of unusual buildings. By the way In Sonora Art Village there is no clear system, the houses are located chaotically, each house has its own colorful path.

We are not fans of either Christopher Alexander or Peter Eisenman. They are masters of their work, but their work does not make us feel anything. But if we had to choose one of them we’d pick Peter Eisenman. We love the project City of Culture Galicia, it’s amazing.

We like sitting furniture with some plants. The cities could look so beautiful if there were more nice street furniture with plants. Great combination.

Thank you to Mary and Davit for their time. You can see more of their work on their Behance Page.


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