“For me, an artistic outlook on life means France and Old Europe.”
Andrès Alsina has a point. If interior design can be thought of as a science and an art, then there can be no greater inspiration for ascetically filling spaces in a considered and artful way than the rich and textured history of European design.
Born in South America, Andrès has spent 25 years in the world of interior design where his distinctive creativity and reinterpretation of classic taste has been lauded by the international press. I asked him when he first realized a creative life beckoned?
“I think it was at the beginning of the 80s. I was modelling to pay my studies in Paris, and I had the chance to be introduced to a world of incredible talented people, such as fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent, and Loulou de la Falaise, and also Madeleine Castaing—the great interior design eclectic. I was young and I wanted to absorb all the information I got like a sponge. In some way I knew I was surrounded by the greatest talents of the end of last century. That was my first introduction to the world of creation.”
Styles that range from a very classical approach to designer fashion, to picturesque interior romance and tailored neoclassicism. What next?
“I had begun to write early in my life and worked as a journalist for several years. At some magical point I decided to mix brains on paper with taste on spaces. I became an interior designer when I published an article on my first little apartment in South America. Suddenly people began to call—asking me to design their rooms. When I realized that the profit I received from the sale of a Chesterfield sofa was three or four times the amount I was being paid as a journalist per month, I start my career.”
Though Andrès Alsina’s classic interiors could be described as dreamy, his vision is crystal clear.
“We live in interiors; we don’t live admiring our interiors. I don’t spend time in my house every day to see how beautiful the architecture is, but while inside, in the middle of whatever I’m doing, it’s important to get a surprise out of what my space involves. Finding myself living in a beautiful space is an instant of rare and personal pleasure.”
Some quick fire questions:
Do you consider interior design an art, a craft or a profession?
“For me it’s so easy, I don’t consider it an art. I’m just a magician that balances things in a proper way. As a writer I can tell you that intellectually it’s much, much more difficult to write than to decorate a space with success.”
Has interior design changed over the past 20 or so years?
“Everything is in permanent movement, but in a subtle way. The reason is simple: everything is already designed. We just revisit periods, which is fine, as long the reinterpretation is done with respect and solid taste. I don’t see any more dramatic changes in interiors and furniture—as we saw as a result of past history. Baroque to Empire, Art Nouveau to Art Decò. Those were major movements in style.”
What’s most important to the work of an interior designer?
“Discipline. Do not move deadlines, and always give an extra touch not expected by your clients.”
You’re also a writer.
“I have published three books, two about my career, and half a novel and image gallery, all of which you can still buy at the famous Galignani library in Paris. Writing is my passion, my motto on life. Actually I’m just finishing my next book, soon to be published, “The Art of Letting Go”, a treatise on aesthetics with many philosophical references.”
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
“I will never recover from my first impression of meeting Faye Dunaway when I was 12. It was too much for a young boy— she had intelligent beauty, and elegance—a great actress at her best (between Chinatown and Network). She was Hollywood royalty.”
Hollywood style and European elegance. What has inspired your work most?
“For any important decorator the inspiration of the French eighteen century style is fundamental. You can’t avoid it as a professional—that tremendous period of excellence in all art disciplines. Beyond that I find inspiration in short but inspirational periods like the Gustavian in Sweden, Biedermeier in Austria, and certainly arts & crafts during the not very pure Victorian period. Bauhaus was a tremendous influence too, but I believe that we have to let it rest for a while. Actually I’m also very inspired by the ancient jewelry of the Mapuche culture of my country.”
A bona fide style icon, Andrés divides his time between seminars, interior design, and writing.
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