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Easy Living

By Inês Moura, Partner and Creative Director S+A Interior Design

After studying Architecture I started my professional life totally wrapped up in the idea that the design of a space by itself was enough. Light shaping, the full and the empty, the negatives, the crushing of a ceiling or the raising of a structure, the direction of the gaze and the paths one imagines through the senses – it was enough for a space to be closed and only in that ideal to be inhabited.

Later I wondered where the design boundary lies, which stitches the different elements of a space, giving man comfort within that boundary interval.

The seductive lines of interior design connect deeply with architecture. I see them as a line that passes continuously from one hand to the other. Like two arms of the same body.

We start by receiving an idea, getting to know the place to be read and modified, study the culture where it is located, the materials typical of the area, how people sit, how they like to eat, their habits, and where they are promoted, so we can think about how a new element can be added. This is when Architecture and Interior Design must be accomplices so that together they relate perfectly.

I remember getting to know the work of Alvar Aalto and seeing the freedom he used to design organic forms and natural materials – many details that remind me of a more refined and comfortable Architecture, capable of involving us and bringing back good memories. The Aalto House, the Muuratsalo House, or the Studio Aalto, are projects of a man who clearly thought about how he wanted to live, spend his time, how he would ideally work or sit by the window, on which bench with which fabric and level of comfort and detail.

The innovation in his design, together with a conscious idea of how he would like to be, allowed him to develop complete projects that ranged from architecture to furniture design, where the story of his life became strongly marked.

History can be the starting point for the transition of Architecture to ID. How do we turn an argument into an inhabited space? And how do we foster in people who are going to experience it, an emotion strong enough to trigger the impulse to share?

My first project on the Architecture course was to model a desert, a glacier, or a forest. After some thought, I chose a forest and went home to make tree crowns out of polystyrene which I painted green, and trunks with toothpicks stuck in even greener polystyrene. When I got to class, the teacher looked at my trees and asked me why they were painted like that. Why was I trying to represent in an unreal model a real image, when in fact it looked like nothing? He then asked me how I would represent a train in a drawing. I thought of the image of a stationary train when he interrupted me and said that we rarely see one at a standstill since trains represent movement, air displacement, speed, and sound. They are fast and strong risks, just as trees are permeable elements of light that moves, full of interconnected arms that go different ways and are crossed by the wind, providing shade and protection.

It is through the interpretation of what an element can be – rather than the element itself – that we find the possibility of creating a project with interest, adding value to the existing space instead of being just a set of soulless objects to ‘decorate’ it.

It is only through a great capacity for sensitive interpretation and a vast knowledge that we can reach a sculptural and poetic space. It is important to avoid the disposable and seek substance through history and the challenge of thinking about the future. Find in an object the burden of time and the eternity of form. For example, a stone sink in a public catering room was used for a long time as a fundamental and extremely functional element. It can be ‘recovered’ and reintroduced into a space today with the same purpose, yet with its importance in the right place. In the apparent simplicity of a counter’s design, we find the implicit richness in the details necessary to make it work, such as having a sturdy plinth to avoid being marked when people are seated, having the correct height for comfortable meals, a soft rounded shape of the top that does not hurt the arms or the edge that catches spilled drinks. All details are part of a set of materials and different planes, which then cling to the floor and connect it through that plinth which flows across the room, aligning its height.

Whatever the element designed, the object thought, the color chosen, the texture created, it will have to be part of a thread that connects each entity and creates a beginning, a middle, and an end, intimately articulated, where everything is intentional.

I want to continue to look at the world and see the elements that make it up, to reinterpret them so they continue to perform their function through a language more connected to the present, without losing the past. Design the future from there, surprising. Explore new territories, have subversive experiences, create emotional explosions. Look at Man and observe him. Create places where beauty is granted through the composition between these two worlds that represent, deep down, only one.

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