Lázaro Rosa-Violán - Interior Designer from Barcelona
The spanish interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán is a master of his business. We have visited his apartment in Barcelona and are overwhelmed of his creative work. Pure design inspirations. Have a closer look!
by Richard Powers (images) and Danielle Miller (text & production)
In his vast home studio in the middle of the Catalan capital, artist-turned-interior designer, Lázaro Rosa-Violán is immersed in animated dialogue with his colleagues. The place is alive with creativity and all around unique and wonderful prototypes catch your eye, as do the collections of vintage retro chairs, objets, artefacts, large-scale paintings (by Rosa-Violán himself), and the dazzling Paco Robanne-designed chandelier. Most have their own story to tell about past or present projects having been picked up on travels or from sacred sources he’s rather averse to divulging. Some are destined for hotel projects as far flung as Buenos Aires while others are earmarked for bars and restaurants in Marrakesh, Rome or closer to home.
Anything you see here could go tomorrow
“Anything you see here could go tomorrow,” remarks the Barcelonian with the wave of an arm, indicating how the place has become a private showroom of sorts. Yet there’s no sign of the kind of chaos that could be justifiable in a similarly creative environment. Instead, it’s a visually rich and ordered place full of art and beauty and unexpected intimacy. However, as Rosa-Violán, svelte and studiously unshaven, his beloved weimarana, Bosco (named after the painter) at his feet, says, consolidating work and home like this was “never on the cards.”
Set behind one of the gracious facades that line the wide avenues of Example – the name means extension – one of the key areas developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries after the Ciutat Vella (the old city) walls were demolished. It went on to become known for its striking Modernista (art nouveau) heritage influenced by the likes of Gaudi and his acclaimed Casa Milà and Sagrada Família landmarks among others. Round the time the area was also opening up to an influx of burgeoning textile companies.
The ideal Studio
As the previous occupants, a family who ran it’s cotton empire (with outposts across North and Latin America) through generations from the wood-panelled grandeur of the first-floor apartment. Until five years ago, as Rosa-Violán explains, when he noticed that boxes were being stacked up inside the offices from the window of his apartment on the other side of the courtyard. “I’d had my eye on the place with its huge terrace thinking how it would make for an ideal studio,” he recalls.
a bedroom with a wall made from mirror-panelled doors
And while it took just two days to move in and have everyone back to business, in two months, renovations and the opening up of the 200-square-metre floor plan included the creation of a bedroom with a wall made from mirror-panelled doors reclaimed from a Catalan palace, a guest room, a kitchen made up of antique cabinets, and a sky-lit bathroom in the place of the head quarters original reception area. Retaining the same oak panelling, it still conceals the old safe-box.
he’s a real whiz especially when it comes to desserts
As for working arrangements, an over-sized table converts to a desk that’s lined up with back-to-back screens. This is central to a transitional area that connects one end of the salon with its white spherical table and mirrored sideboard (both company prototypes) and the kitchen. Featuring a sensational Chinese screen in gold, its here where Rosa-Violán likes to spend his down time, as colleagues say, “he’s a real whiz especially when it comes to desserts.”
Rosa-Violán studied fine arts in Madrid and is an established artist in his own right. Though when a friend asked him to help decorate a restaurant on the tiny Balearic island of Formentera, requests from others soon followed, eventuating in the setting up of his company, Contemporain Studio in 2003. On the premise, he says, that few bars and restaurants were designed in a way where décor, lighting, ambience and food worked together as a coherent whole.
LÁZARO ROSA-VIOLÁN Contemporary Studio
Of his 16 colleagues, eight work in the studio and include architects and an industrial designer among them, while a team of craftsmen, described as the “muscle” of the company, operates from various workshops around Barcelona. “We try to perceive each project as fresh and unique,” he adds. “At the same time I like to create a core feeling of history through the components as if they were always there.”
Indeed, there’s an authentic and fresh emphasis everywhere you turn. Where original features grace the main salon – such as the oak-lined walls, arched windows and parquet floors – others like the striking glass panels that divide the kitchen and dining room were actually salvaged from the local Ritz Hotel. But you wouldn’t know it. “Our trade team work wonders to create or transform,” he says, explaining that more often this means expanding on functionality and giving new life, whether architectural, objet or artefact; from the standout pair of stucco rosettes that strike a divide and define areas in the salon, to a coral-shaped pair of vases in cerulean blue, among others, he had fashioned into lamps.
With a balmy Mediterranean climate conducive to outdoor living, Rosa-Violán, who is also a nightlife arbiter, says a colleague, takes full advantage of the 600-square-metre terrace. One of the designers breezes through the kitchen to grab a coffee as a meeting gathers outside beneath the pergolas, club-style around one of several lounges and low-slung tables. “The place has essentially become a calling card that’s constantly changing and evolving with our ideas,” concurs Rosa-Violán. Small wonder, then, that he and his team of loyal acolytes are in such demand.