Read an Excerpt
"Give me your dreams and I will make them happen." That's how I like to start a dialogue with my clients—unencumbered by limitations. My role as interior designer is to allow their imagination free rein and then, through the alchemy of architectural gesture, interior know-how, and custom design, fashion a place in which they will be delighted to live . . . or work.
The book you are holding is my second. It gives me great pleasure to present many of the design projects I have completed over the last decade. I've been at this work for thirty years. I love it and I live it in a very personal way, as you'll see, because my own homes are included in these pages. The projects here showcase the wide scope of my work: unique apartments in Paris, relaxed getaways in the tropics, luxurious urban dwellings in Manhattan, rustic homes in rural settings, and more. Along with private dwellings, there are two designer show houses, a beach club, and an international design center.
I don't make any distinction between residential and commercial work in terms of my aesthetic. And that's what makes them equally exciting. I have had the opportunity to design some of the projects featured here from the ground up, to my great satisfaction. I always see things in a three-dimensional, volumetric way, even when I'm sketching the redesign of a single room. I never accept what I see before me as a given: I take it as a canvas.
When I first set up my business many years ago, I was working out of a charming one-bedroom apartment on Sutton Place. I devised an arrangement using the headboard of my bed as a room divider, with the desk and office on the other side. Interior Design magazine photographed and wrote about it. The phone started ringing. First I had one employee, then I had two, then I had to move. Interestingly, one of my longtime clients, whose loft-type apartment is in this book, remembered that home office solution and asked me to adapt it to her bedroom.
My work is a product of the architectural training I received in my home country, Colombia, before I emigrated to the States, and of the excellent education I got at the Parsons School of Design in New York, during an especially exciting period. I was taught by dynamic design historians and others who had studied with architectural titans like Louis Kahn. Factor in what I learned post-graduation from a stint at an interior design firm in Paris and another sojourn at a furniture manufacturer in Italy, in combination with the legacy of my Latin roots, and my work began to take on the international flavor that characterizes it today.
I am fascinated by geometry. Consider a triangle, a cube, a rectangle, a circle: they are perfect forms—and a crucial part of my creative process. I can start the sketch for a room by drawing a circle. I ask, "What can this circle do for the space? How do I place the cubes and the triangles to transform it?" And then I begin to look through the shapes deeper into the area. I imagine the focal points. My goal is to create a palpable axis, a clear beacon to create harmony.
The experience of arrival is paramount, so I pay great attention to foyers and entry corridors. I like to invoke curiosity, coupled with a sense of preparation for what lies beyond. I manipulate elegant materials, often with a linear dimension, to create expectation and to suggest the pathway in. I often propose open living plans and like to contrast them with the well-defined entry. With walls or without, there must always be a connection between adjoining spaces. Everything should unfold.