In­spired by Mediter­ranean light

Barcelona’s in­te­ri­ors prove a shin­ing ex­am­ple

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Home Style - DEB­BIE TRAVIS

Any­one who has vis­ited this part of the world would have to agree. There is some­thing spe­cial about how light res­onates in Spain, Italy, Greece, and coun­tries bor­der­ing the Mediter­ranean Sea.

It was Gaudi’s goal to con­struct build­ings that opened up their in­te­ri­ors to this pre­cious light. This was ac­com­plished with sky­lights, win­dows that var­ied in size, shut­ters and blinds, and colour.

One of the most fa­mous build­ings de­signed by Gaudi for a wealthy Span­ish aris­to­crat is Casa Batllo in Barcelona. From the out­side the fa­cade looks like it has been made from skulls and bones. The “skulls” are in fact bal­conies and the “bones” are sup­port­ing pil­lars. Gaudi var­ied win­dow size de­pend­ing on where the win­dow was in re­la­tion to the top of the build­ing. In this way he could en­sure uni­form lighting con­di­tions in each room of the house. As you climb the stairs in Casa Batllo there is a range of blues from very dark to light, dra­mat­i­cally mas­ter­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of nat­u­ral light as you as­cended to­ward the at­tics and roof ter­races.

Barcelona is an ex­cep­tional city with more Mod­ernist (Art Nou­veau) build­ings than any other city in the world. New builds and ren­o­va­tions com­bine the Cata­lan influence of in­no­va­tion and non­con­formism, and in­clude the best of tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als in new and ex­cit­ing ways.

Pres­ti­gious Span­ish de­signer Patricia Urquiola was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate the in­te­rior decor of Man­darin Ori­en­tal Ho­tel in Barcelona. Trained as an ar­chi­tect, Urquiola has the pas­sion and imag­i­na­tion of the re­gion, which is ev­i­dent in the award-win­ning avant-garde fur­ni­ture she de­signs. For this ho­tel, Urquiola cre­ated an in­te­rior that re­flects the open, cos­mopoli­tan char­ac­ter of this great Mediter­ranean city, and takes full ad­van­tage of the light.

Blanc res­tau­rant and lounge is the heart of the ho­tel. That fa­mous Mediter­ranean light is fil­tered into this breath­tak­ing space from the atrium and through large sky­lights. All is white, with touches of black seen in up­hol­stery trim and ta­ble legs, and splashes of green from lush plants.

An enor­mous rec­tan­gu­lar metal­lic grid is sus­pended over the res­tau­rant tables. Painted white, the pat­terned grid is rem­i­nis­cent of an in­tri­cate Chi­nese pa­per cutout de­sign, sym­met­ri­cal and del­i­cate. To en­hance the ethe­real il­lu­sion, a hang­ing gar­den has been cre­ated, blur­ring the line be­tween in­doors and out.

Vis­it­ing this ex­cit­ing city and its amaz­ing ar­chi­tec­ture re­minds me once again how im­por­tant it is to fill our homes, wher­ever they are, with nat­u­ral and ar­ti­fi­cial light. Dur­ing the day, al­low as much nat­u­ral light in as pos­si­ble, us­ing shades to fil­ter harsh rays. Open up dark hall­ways and stair­cases with a sky­light if pos­si­ble, or in- stall lights to make these pas­sage­ways shine.

And if you have a room with a very tall ceil­ing, think about cre­at­ing a grand ceil­ing decoration. You can ac­com­plish much with a painted de­sign, or in­stall wood planks, a wrought iron grid, or ceil­ing mould­ings.


Splen­did met­al­work shapes cre­ate a mag­i­cal din­ing room ceil­ing at the Man­darin Ori­en­tal Ho­tel in Barcelona, an in­te­rior de­signed by Span­ish de­signer Patricia Urquiola.

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