My chat with a Barcelona based interior designer on the things unite
I had reached out to Marina Sezam from Sezam Studio while still in Melbourne. So I had been anticipating our meeting in Barcelona for a while. I was keen to chat to a fellow interior designer working in a design forward city such as Barcelona. Learn about the process, similarities, and challenges. Ultimately my chat with Marina was about the things that unite us as interior designers.
Barcelona is design forward
By the time I met with Marina, I had been in Barcelona on a Sojrn chapter for a week. In this time, I had visited one of Barcelona’s architectural gems, Cass Batllo, designed by the prominent architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi and Barcelona are synonymous.
I also had visited La Sagrada Familia, another of Gaudi’s projects and spent a lot of time walking around various neighbourhoods taking in the architecture and ornamentation found on the buildings.
Ornamentation such as tile murals, colourful shutters, mouldings, frescos and other architectural features such as columns and arches, so I had a strong impression of the importance of design in Barcelona.
This was confirmed by Marina, who suggested that design is important to the people of Barcelona. From interior design to fashion design. From graphic design to art. Design and beautiful objects being part of the culture of the city and its identity. I think this is something Melbourne has in common with Barcelona.
Design style in Barcelona
While in Barcelona I saw a lot of colour and pattern but Marina suggested that for her clients the preferred design style is Minimal, neutral, Modern, Scandi, Contemporary. Simple but striking. A few pieces that communicate a calm aesthetic but make an impact.
Admittedly I was surprised by this. Seeing so much ornamentation on the streets and buildings I just expected that this would be the case in people’s home too.
But Marina suggested this rich, heavy style might be more commonplace in Madrid. Whereas Barcelona Modernist style is inspired by nature, organic shapes, and simplicity.
Empathy in design
One of the key characteristics Marina referred to a lot as key to her work with clients is empathy. While I understood and agreed with this, I find communication is also key. Open, authentic, two way communication is a way of achieving empathy.
Understanding the client deeply is key to successful outcomes in any interior design project and so I think both good communication and empathy are equally important when working with clients on their interior design project.
Interior design process
We also talked about how we deliver projects. When some projects are difficult and why that is. And all the ways to set and manage expectations so that we the interior designer can lead the interior design project.
Marina mentioned the importance of building trust with clients. So that they allow her to lead the project and she suggested that communicating her knowledge and expertise is key to building trust quickly.
One difference between our processes is that occasionally Marina might show a concept to a prospective client. Whereas I never do this. I’m a strong advocate for creatives not working for free. When you engage an interior designer you’re engaging their talent and interpretation of your brief a free concept doesn’t necessarily ensure a successful outcome.
As a Barcelona based interior designer, Marina started her studio in the early 2000s and was humble enough to say that she’s still learning. Especially when there is a challenging project.
While it’s difficult to navigate through a project where things are going wrong, it always works out in the end because of the dedicated team at Sezam Studio.
I expressed a similar sentiment as being solution focused. I’m honest with my clients in telling them that things can go wrong, they often do, it’s just the nature of large-scale projects. The key is not to focus on the problem but instead focus on the solution.
In my experience the solution is often better than the original idea and the project is always completed with a quality finish.
Having a team of designers
I was curious about the team at Sezam Studios. And how Marina ensures her brand reputation and her signature style are delivered when the project may be led by another interior designer in her studio.
Marina was honest in that she values the stylistic preferences of all the interior designers in her team and feels these differences can add value but they need to be applied within the brand aesthetic that is Sezam Studio.
Overall I was enchanted by Marina and encouraged by the similarities in the way an interior design studio based in Barcelona can have so much in common with an interior design studio based in Melbourne.
This speaks to the universality of interior design and the things that unite. Things such as the common truth that form follows function. That at the heart of a beautiful space is a carefully considered layout and selections based on functionality.
Another universal truth in interior design is the importance of the strength of the relationship between the interior designer and the client.
I came away from my chat with a Barcelona based interior designer, feeling humbled by the information shared between colleagues and excited about how these insights and inspirations will feed into my work in the future.
Finally, I felt proud that Grace Interior Designs does not specialise in any specific style. Instead I work to deliver the client’s version of an aspirational space. I love all interior design and love the challenge of bringing to life all of my client’s varied visions.
By drawining inspiration from global and historical interior design styles enriches the outcomes and creates depth and interest to a space.