With its restaurants, art galleries and the Picasso Museum, the vibrant atmosphere of El Born - one of the most historic neighbourhoods in Barcelona - convinced a couple from New York City to purchase their own modern pied-à-terre that they could frequent to enjoy the Spanish lifestyle.
Spread over 125 square metres, the apartment occupies the first floor of a protected building from 1910. Because of the historic nature of the building, the renovation had to be gentle and subtle, to protect the soul of the place.
Designer Jaime Beriestain (opens in new tab) led the makeover of the interior with the objective of honouring the owners’ passions for the city, contemporary art and mid-century furniture.
As a starting point, the interior designer put all his attention on understanding the couple’s habits and tastes to create an apartment that would perfectly fit their needs. ‘My American clients dreamt of this flat in Barcelona’, remembers Beriestain. ‘I took my inspiration from Spain and its Mediterranean culture and traditions, which I tried to reflect through the art, colours and textures.’
‘The goal was to design a comfortable contemporary dwelling for American clients with a very different perspective than Europeans’, he says.
The technical part of the remodelling proved to be challenging. It required the preservation of the original architectural and decorative features of the space, including the existing cement tile flooring - which had to be removed temporarily, to install the heating and other engineering elements underneath - and the plaster ceiling mouldings.
The pied-à-terre showcases a relaxing and cosy atmosphere through fabrics, including curtains in red silk velvet - which adorn the living and dining rooms - and silk rugs handmade in India throughout.
Evoking peace, beige and white on the walls and the furnishings combine with blue and red accents to bring in visual dynamism. ‘I sought balance and understatement in choosing the colors for the walls and fabrics, in contrast with the bright tones of the flooring and the art’, Beriestain says.
‘The apartment couldn’t be more typical of Barcelona’, says Beriestain, who had more freedom to transform the new areas, such as the bathroom and the kitchen, where he chose contemporary materials. The copperplate front-facing Calacatta Viola marble work surfaces dominates in the kitchen.
‘The main focus for my inspiration was to create a sweet provocation in the sense that I wanted to trigger an immediate interest for the spaces in both a bold and warm way,' describes Beriestain.
‘A large number of the lamps we’ve chosen are truly iconic design classics,’ says Beriestain. In the dining room, the Stilnovo chandeliers add a sense of drama in this one-of-a-kind apartment, where plants and flowers are the ultimate fresh touch.
The result is a mix-and-match of vintage pieces by Carlo Scarpa, Pierre Paulin and Gio Ponti with contemporary artworks by artists such as Toru Kamiya, Caetano de Almeida and Mapplethorpe, which perfectly blend in a cohesive way.
In the main bathroom, the focus was on the breccia stone, with the shower made entirely of this material as ‘a box’ and a hand basin in marquina marble and oak wood.
Designed as an authentic Barcelona home for two foreigners in love with the city, this project is an ode to both the essence of the place in which it is located, and the personality of its inhabitants. ‘It is a mix of a mid-century spirit but with a very Spanish twist,’ Beriestain says.
A French trilingual editor, content creator, and interior stylist living in Southern California. A compulsive reader of design, architecture, and lifestyle magazines, and an avid traveler, Karine lives and breathes interiors and is inspired by designers Nika Zupanc, Charles and Ray Eames, and Marcel Wanders; architects Luis Barragán and Frank Gehry; artists Gerhard Richter, Beatriz Milhazes, and Anish Kapoor. For the past 12 years, Karine has been contributing to international design, architecture, and fashion publications including Architectural Digest, ELLE Decor, Vogue Living, Design Anthology and MilK Decoration, among many others.
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