Commissioned by a foreign couple moving to Spain to refurbish a derelict apartment in a historic 19th century building in Barcelona, Polish-born, Barcelona-based designer Szymon Keller tackled the project as much from an architectural perspective as from a sculptural angle. Drawing inspiration from the Mediterranean Sea, Keller applied a sculptural design language of organic shapes, natural finishes and sandy hues in order to conjure a nostalgic end-of-summer feeling elicited by the colours of a beach sunset. Furnished with a treasure trove of unique, handcrafted pieces, many of which have been designed by Keller himself, Waves House, as the project is dubbed in reflection of the curved silhouettes that dominate the interiors, epitomizes an artisanal approach to interior design where every beautifully crafted detail is conceived as an integral part of a painterly composition.
Laden with sloped floors, crooked walls and a deteriorated ceiling, the 60 square-metre apartment was in dire need of an overhaul but perhaps the toughest challenge Keller had to contend with was the claustrophobic layout, made all the worse by the property’s very narrow floorplan and small number of windows. Keller’s response was to do away with almost all internal walls and corridors, opting instead for an enfilade configuration: an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area in the front is connected to the bedroom in the back via a bathroom. Fitted with translucent glass sliding doors on both sides to allow natural light to filter in, the bathroom is conceived as a transitional space, part hallway, part spa-like retreat.
Taking a cue from the existing wave-shaped Catalan vaulted ceiling, Keller has introduced a plethora of curved forms and organic shapes as “a way of achieving the balance between a warm, Mediterranean feel and a contemporary, unique and daring design” as he says. In combination with natural finishes and colours, the ubiquity of curves – from the vaulted ceiling, to the arched doorways, curved corners of the kitchen cabinetry, and wavy headboard, to the furniture selection – imbue the interiors with a soothing sensation, not unlike that of watching the sunset as you lie in the warm sand in the summer.
Sandy stucco applied to walls and ceilings, light terrazzo floors made of small stones, and off-white oak parquet carpet in the living areas and private quarters underpin the beach-like sensation. Pearl white linen curtains, sofa upholstery and lacquered cabinets, tobacco-hued cotton chairs, terracotta door frames, and white marble surfaces with earth-coloured veins enhance the beach-inspired aesthetic in the living area, while the satin copper finish of the gleaming kitchen cabinetry adds sunset tones.
Quite different in tonality, the bathroom is a much darker, cooler space inspired by the shades of the waters of the Mediterranean. Bluish green ceramic tiles pick up the colour of the ceiling and Corian washbasin, while a free-standing copper bathtub softly glows among the darker surroundings like a goldfish.
The beach-inspired theme continues in the bedroom with the headboard’s earth-toned wool padding and terracotta-hued built-in bedside tables complementing the sandy tones of the walls, floor and ceiling, while a resin and neon wall lamp takes the role of the rising sun. Named Sunburt, the wall sconce was inspired by vintage bedside lamps from the 1970s, and is one of several custom-made pieces designed by Keller for the project.
Such custom pieces include Eclipse, an organically shaped wall sconce in the bathroom inspired by the moon and created in collaboration with Crea-Re studio, a console and coffee table named Ruins, made out of compressed paper, fibreglass, resin and white cement, which appear as if carved by natural forces, and a resin side table, Lung whose kidney bean shape, gleaming translucency and amber hue evoke a living form. Keller’s pieces are interspersed amongst an eclectic selection of complementary objects and artworks such as an off-white minimalist relief painting by Polish-born, Milan-based artist Paul Bik in the bedroom, a colourful painting by artist Albert Madaula in the living room, and numerous shell-shaped ceramic pieces by local artist Vito Montolio.
Much like the bespoke furnishings and unique artefacts, the apartment’s interior hovers between handcrafted beauty and contemporary sophistication, tactile richness and visual refinement, creating an intimate yet inspiring “home for lovers of summer, the sea, and sunsets”.