Home Tour: A Designer Transforms A Former Office Into His Colourful Apartment
Having lived in Barcelona for nearly two decades, Chilean interior designer Jaime Beriestain is no stranger to the city—and his well-placed apartment in the historic Eixample district truly revels in the full bustle of its lively locale.
“I love being in the centre of the city,” he professes. “Eixample is an area that’s constantly buzzing with design and fashion boutiques, charming hotels and restaurants, and art galleries.”
Furnished with a vibrant collection of modern designs and contemporary art, it’s hard to imagine the apartment in its original state—as an office space. During his first visit to the property, the designer loved the abundance of natural light that streamed through the apartment and its lofty ceiling height.
“As it is located on the main floor of the building, what won me over was the headroom,” recalls Beriestain. “Also, unusually, it has a lot of inner courtyards that provide shafts of natural light.”
To convert the former office space into a personalised abode, Beriestain had to demolish much of the original interior—the only elements that remained are the windows on the facade. He aimed to start anew with this passion project, which embodies his inimitable style while celebrating his growing treasure trove of artworks.
“I wanted to have a minimalist white box that puts the spotlight on my art collection,” he explains. “I collect works of art that are themed around places and architecture. There’s something timeless about them, and I’m always discovering a different story and meaning in the works, depending on where I am in my life, how the light hits them and in the ways I combine them. My art collection thus reflects my personal journey and the facets of my personality.”
(Related: Tatler How-To: Decorate Your Home With Art)
With that concept of a “white box” in mind, the designer painted all the walls and ceilings in white, with the flooring in cream or off-white to serve as the blank canvas for his beloved collection. This also heightens the sense of space within the abode, which feels bright and light in spite of its petite size.
In contrast, the vibrant array of artworks fills the spaces with colour, depth and perspective. Splashes of neon and jewel tones match impeccably with metallic accents and a plush mix of rugs—it feels at once dynamic, cohesive and personalised. The door frames and shelving in the living room have also been varnished in matte-black paint to frame the apartment’s angular dimensions.
Being a frequent entertainer, Beriestain also aimed to design the apartment as an open, seamless space while clearly differentiating the living and dining areas from private spaces such as the bedroom. The dining room, which serves as the home’s social hub, can be separated from the kitchen with a large sliding partition.
“Generally, I cook for my guests with the large sliding door between the dining room and the kitchen open,” he says. “When I’m done, I close it, and the dining room becomes self-contained and peaceful.”
(Related: How To Create The Kitchen Of Your Dreams)
Another defining feature of the apartment that Beriestain sought to embrace was the abundance of natural light and he achieved this through the use of reflective surfaces. Within the apartment, there’s an interplay of light and the subtle transparency of the furniture pieces, which gives it a sense of airiness and substance.
Take the chairs and the table in the master bedroom, for instance. With their chrome-plated bases, the Boris Tabacoff chairs reflect the light, as does the structure of the glass table by Norman Foster. Compared to the vivacious living and dining areas, the en-suite bedroom takes on a more subdued palette, combining neutral shades with verdant accents.
Armchairs by Gio Ponti and Joseph-André Motte have been lovingly restored and reupholstered in punchy shades of green. At the same time, Beriestain’s knack for opulent details shines through the room’s metallic accents. A pair of Murano glass artworks by Venini serve as the room’s statement pieces; originating from the 1960s, these were mounted onto brass plates by the designer.
Looking at his apartment, Beriestain admires every detail of his completed work. “I love inviting guests to my apartment and it makes me really happy to prepare dinner for my friends,” he says. Beyond the immaculate design, it has become a cosy haven for the designer and his friends; the avid cook frequently organises dinner gatherings in the living area, where they all bask in the warm light of the ethanol fireplace.
“After dinner, it’s time for gin and tonic—and lots of laughs!”
Photography: Manolo Yllera
This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes April-May 2018