Behind the Design with Guilherme Torres

Hi Everyone!

As you know architecture and design are huge passions of mine and while I love looking at and learning about new projects and spaces, lately I have found myself wanting to know more about the people behind my favourite projects and designs.  Today I am so excited (you have no idea just how excited) to introduce a new series to Stylishly Zen called “Behind the Design” featuring the designers and architects behind some of my favourite projects.

Today’s featured architect is Guilherme Torres.  Based in Sao Paolo, Brazil Guilherme’s work is absolutely beautiful and unique.  With clean lines, uncluttered aesthetic and natural materials, I would best describe his work as elevated natural luxury with a twist.  Without further adieu, here is my interview with Guilherme Torres:

>     Did you always know that you wanted to work in architecture and design?  Has it always been your passion?

Always, ever since I was a child. Actually, I’ve always known I wanted to be an architect, and design was something that came later, to complement my creative process. If I weren’t an architect I’d be an astronaut. 

>     How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I like to think that I have an antenna in my head that can be directed at several sources. Now I see a common syntax in everything I do. I try to be prudent with my lines, maximising the effects whilst using very little.

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>      Where do you find your inspiration from?

The day to day that I create for myself is my source of inspiration. I’m very curious, and I love music, cinema and visual arts. I just absorb everything that is in my reach and let my subconscious work it out. I don’t research anything on Pinterest, for instance. 

>     What has been your most, challenging project so far?  Why was it so challenging?

Designing furniture is always a big challenge for me. In part, almost everything has already been designed, because we have several rules to follow. In Brazil, for instance, we don’t have a greatly developed industry in this field, so the aesthetics repertoire is somewhat limited. There’s also the ergonomics factor, that defines a lot of the standards that have to be followed. The space to create, using the same materials and technology is then reduced, so I need a lot of time to research to mature my ideas.

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>     What has been your favourite project to date?

I have many, but I guess I would say Mangue Groove, which I did for Swarovski, and Tree House, my last house design, still unpublished. 

>     How long does it take for you to normally complete a project? 

It depends on the project. Designing a house, for instance, takes me about 15 minutes, and a chair, about 5 years!

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>     Any favourite travel destinations that you like to escape too? Why?

I love exotic and nature-filled places. Places that are wild and that have new cultures, smells and experiences. Yet, there’s a lot more “mainstream” places that I don’t know yet. I guess the top three destinations on my wishlist are Japan, Egypt and Russia. 

>     How would you describe the design style in Brazil?

Tricky. We’ve had a golden period after the Second World War, born out of the migrants that came to Brazil to rebuild their lives. Brazilian design made in the 50s and 60s was brilliant. Ever since that our production’s been shyer and less representative. The world has also become too “pasteurised”.

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>     Describe your perfect day in São Paulo – what would you do?  Where would you go?

My perfect day starts in my house, the best place in the world, with my dog, a Jack Russel called Bolt. But of course I’d want to go out to do something. That’s the fun of living in São Paulo: there’s anything you want! Also, I don’t really like planning. 

>     Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Younger, richer and humbler. 

>     Any words of wisdom for someone who is considering becoming an architect or designer?

Don’t!

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Special thanks to Guilherme Torres and his colleague Renato Freddi for participating in this interview.  All images courtesy of Studio Guilherme Torres.

I hope that all of you have a beautiful day! XXS

Five Faves

It’s hard to believe that we are half way thru 2019, but I am so happy to finally enjoy my favourite season of the year.  I absolutely LOVE the summer season, and while lately I feel like time is just moving too quickly, my goal for this summer is to take some time to slow down, just breathe and enjoy the things that make me happy as often as possible.  Here are five things that are currently making me very happy:

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This watermelon and halloumi salad is a summer staple in my diet during the warmer months.  While watermelon and feta seems so be a little more common, I love the salty bite that halloumi adds to the mix.

E70A11C1-F74D-4781-833B-36C7B9D5B46FI love to enjoy a chilled drink on the balcony when the weather is warm and sunny.  My two favourites being an april spritz or a glass of rose.  Le Pive was recommended to me a few years ago when I was on the hunt for a good but not too expensive rose and it has been one of my favourites ever since.  This year, I am loving it even more as it is now certified organic.  Clean, fresh and not overly sweet, Le Pive is the perfect wine to sit back and relax with during the warmer months.

A15506F9-3DF5-41B0-A4A0-631CB82FE79CI have not yet read the book but I got hooked on Big Little Lies last year.  Despite the fact that it was produced as a limited series, it is back for a second season and it is sooooo good!  Just when I thought that the cast couldn’t get any better, they add Meryl Streep to the mix and as always she is fabulous!  If you have yet to watch Big Little Lies, there is no time like the present.  It is the perfect excuse to head indoors and enjoy a bit of air conditioning while you get lost in the lives of the Monterey Five.B5DEF063-20CF-4BB4-BB62-EEB6757C1A20If you have not yet watched Brene Brown’s Netflix special A Call to Courage you are missing out.  Motivating and insightful, it is a must watch.  I am currently reading her latest book Dare to Lead which carries on the message that we need to learn how (and when) to be vulnerable and how to successfully work with and lead others.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in self improvement, impactful leadership and collaboration.

CE3FDA9C-45BE-477F-8C67-27235E02FBA4I hate wearing socks and closed toe shoes, so as soon as the weather starts to warm up I happily pull out all of my sandals.  While normally I alternate between high heels and leather flats, lately all I seem to want to wear are my Brikenstocks.  They are comfy, cute and they go with many outfits (or so that’s what I have been telling myself).  It may even be time to invest in a new pair!  While the new Birkenstock Valentino version is not in my budget, I plan to admire them from afar as I add a new pair to my shoe collection.

Thank you for stopping by Stylishly Zen today!  I would love to hear what you are currently loving this month – let me know in the comments section!

I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XXS

Big Little Lies photo credit http://www.hbo.com, Birkenstock photo credit http://www.birkenstock.com

Inspiring Interior

Hi Everyone!

I don’t know what has been going on, but these past few months have just flown right by!  A part of me still thinks that it is March, but the fact that I am currently writing this blog post while sitting on my balcony, enjoying the warm weather and sipping on an Aperol Spritz implies that we are much further into 2019 then I care to admit to myself.  This means that I have now been living in my new place for over six months and I have barely scratched the decorating surface!  It is about time that I kick things into gear and give myself a deadline.

The biggest challenge that I am currently facing in terms of decorating, is that I can’t seem to decide what I like, and when I do decide I can’t seem to find it OR it is completely out of my budget!  What is a girl to do???

Having said all of this, I think that I have narrowed it down and in my head things are finally starting to come together (or so I hope).  I finally painted my living room – I went for a pure white colour which I absolutely love, and now time for the fun part…decorating!  To find inspiration I have been doing A LOT of research and today I am sharing with you a project that I recently stumbled across from a studio who’s work I have admired for a few years now.

Bao Proyectos is a Madrid based firm who’s work is clean, fresh and absolutely gorgeous!  Their projects include the One Shot Hotel in Saville along with countless private residences and restaurants.  Today’s Inspiring Interior is a private residence in Madrid that really captured the mood that I would love to achieve within my own home.

This light filled residence has a clean aesthetic thanks to countless windows, bright white walls and minimal furnishings.  Despite the minimal aesthetic, the home still looks lived in and welcoming – this is often challenging to achieve, yet the team at Bao Proyectos has achieved it beautifully.  Built in book cases and storage along with intelligent furniture choices helps to achieve a clean, sleek yet inviting look that I absolutely love.  Playful accents such as the yellow couch against a mint green wall and the geometric designed storage in the bedroom and rugs throughout the home, help to infuse some fun into the overall clean aesthetic.  The icing on the proverbial cake of this stunning apartment is the gorgeous bathroom with marble and matte black hardware – heaven!  Bao Proyectos did a wonderful job on this project and I can’t wait to see what they achieve in the future!  Take a look:

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All images from http://www.baoproyectos.com

I hope that you have a beautiful day! XXS

Dream Design – Dexamenes, Kourouta Greece

I have always been a believer in love at first sight, and while I have yet to experience the type of happily ever after that we often see in the movies, the design projects that have stolen my  heart in an instant remain there for many many years.  Today’s Dream Design is one such design project.  The first picture that I saw of it grabbed my attention and my love continued to grow with every further picture of it that I saw, and every story that I read about it – needless to say, it is a architectural love story for the modern age.

K-studio_Dexamenes-0851Dexamenes is located on Kourouta Beach which is a beautiful stretch of coastline in the western Peloponnese.  Its history dates back to the “Era of Currents”, although it was left relatively untouched since the 1920’s.  Athen’s based K-Studio created a design that successfully respected its strong history and beauty of the site while breathing new life into the space.  The result is a modern, elegant and minimalist hotel with a raw, brutal and industrial aesthetic.  Respecting the existing buildings by leaving them relatively untouched, K-Studio updated the site using concrete, steel, timber and glass.

K-studio_Dexamenes-0529K-studio_Dexamenes-0461K-studio_Dexamenes-showerThe hotel rooms were built within two concrete blocks that are divided length wise into two rows of ten storage tanks.  The rooms are identical with the openings facing towards the beach.  Everything is connected by a raised promenade walkway that leads towards the water.  Each room has a double bed, an open wardrobe and a large double shower which adds to the sense of luxury within the minimal aesthetic.  The bathroom is separated by the rest of the room by a wall of textured glass which allows the light from the large sliding windows at the front to reach the back of the tank.

K-studio_Dexamenes-0491K-studio_Dexamenes-0145K-studio_Dexamenes-0754The entry to the hotel is from behind the tanks.  Concrete, glass partitions and a louvered plywood canopy provide a warm welcome along with the guests first view of the sea.

Phase two which will see further extensions and a garden are planned along with the addition of extra amenities such as a taverna, boutique selling local wares and a history room are planned for 2019.

K-studio_Dexamenes-0295-1The design of Dexamenes is both thoughtful and intelligent.  With a strong minimalistic design aesthetic, this hotel is a study in respecting history, restraint and brutal beauty that is often difficult to achieve.

All images via http://www.k-studi.gr

I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XXS

Stylishly Solo – An Introduction

Today I am really excited to introduce a new series here on Stylishly Zen.  As some of you may know, I love to travel but until a few years ago travelling was just a dream for me.  I had been holding myself back from going out and exploring the world because I was single and felt that I needed to have someone to travel with.  All of my friends were in serious relationships, getting married and having children while I remained single, patiently waiting (ok maybe not that patiently) to meet someone that I could explore this world with.  Finally, after a rough few years of dealing with things in my personal life I was in dire need of a vacation, but once again I was faced with the dilemma of not having a travel companion.  At my whits end, I decided that I no longer wanted to just sit on my couch dreaming about exploring far away places, I was getting on a plane and taking my first solo trip.  Having decided this, I faced another hurdle – how to plan a solo vacation.  There are a number of travel companies that cater to the solo traveller – the majority of these companies offer group trips with fellow solo travellers many of whom were in the same position as myself.  While I can see the appeal of joining a group tour, it was not the type of vacation that I had in mind.  Other solo travellers prefer to plan their own trips and stay in hostels in the hopes of bonding with other solo and like minded travellers but once again this is not what I had in mind.  I was dreaming about checking into a cool hotel in a foreign country, immersing myself in the local culture all the while enjoying a few extra luxuries along the way.  I wanted to travel on my own terms and that is exactly what I intended to do. Once I had made up my mind, the thought of being lonely never occurred to me nor did the notion that what I was doing would be viewed as strange by so many people that I met along the way.  Having spent so much time hiding out on my couch solo, I have naively failed to understand that many people still viewed being single or solo as something negative.  I thought it was just my own personal neuroses holding me back, it turns out those neuroses were deeply rooted in how society views single women.  Thankfully over the past few years things have evolved, and while there is still a stigma associated with being single in particular with solo travellers in some parts of the world, more people and businesses have become more understanding and open minded and solo travel has increased exponentially.

Here is the truth about my first solo trip – it was not perfect.  I was a nervous wreck when the time came to actually board that plane to Barcelona, but I am so happy that I did.  During that trip I made a few missteps, let my anxiety get the better of me a couple of times, had some incredible experiences and and found a new level of confidence that I never thought that I would discover within myself.  I have since taken five solo trips (and I am currently planning my sixth), each experience has made me stronger, smarter and incredibly proud of my ability to follow my explorer dreams.  I truly believe that other people can benefit from taking a solo trip, regardless of the stage of life that they are currently in.  It has nothing to do with relationship status.  The rise in solo travel is not just due to the single people wanting to get out there and explore.  People in relationships are also choosing to take a trip on their own and explore on their own terms, to challenge themselves or as a new form of self discovery.  Whatever your motivation is to take a solo adventure, I strongly encourage you to do so.IMG_0100The purpose of this series is to share my experiences and to motivate you to plan your own trip, especially if it is something that you had previously considered but had not yet taken the proverbial plunge.  I will focus on the different cities that I have travelled to, where I have stayed, places that I have eaten and the various sites that I have had the privilege to see and experience in person.  I will also give you recommendations throughout these guides for places that happily accommodated solo travellers and made my journey just a little bit more welcoming. For today though, I will leave you with what I consider the biggest benefits of solo travelling:

  • You are not obliged to stick with anyone’s itinerary but your own.  I like to have a plan and I tend to get very uncomfortable with “just winging it”, so of course on the first full day of my solo vacation I had a schedule that I felt that I absolutely had to stick to.  That is the only way to travel right? So after a couple of hours spent by the hotel pool, I dragged my exhausted self out the door and headed towards Sagrada Familia – one of Barcelona’s most famous sites.  Along the way I made a wrong turn and got completely lost.  After wandering around in the scorching heat for what felt like hours (but in reality about 30 minutes) and being too shy to ask for directions, I found myself sitting on a bench exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated.  That was the moment that I realized that I was being ridiculous – why did I feel that I needed to sightsee immediately?  I was taking this vacation to relax and explore on my own terms, to give my health both mentally and physically a much needed break and I needed to give myself just that – a break.  Shortly after this realization, I thankfully figured out where I was and headed straight back to my hotel to continue lounging by the pool. I eventually saw Sagrada Familia and it is a magnificent building, but I will never forget the lesson that I learned on my first full day of solo vacation – to get out of my own head, stop holding myself to made up obligations and to give myself what I need in that moment.  Solo travel is about travelling on your own terms and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • A common question that I am asked about solo travel is if I ever get lonely.  While there are moments when I feel that I would like to have someone with me, most of the time I am to busy enjoying the experience to feel lonely.  Another cool thing that I learned about solo travel is that it is a great way to meet amazing people – you don’t have to join a travel tour group to experience this.  I have met people from all over the world in the most random situations, from airport coffee bars to culinary experiences and food tours.  While you always need to be cautious when travelling alone, don’t let your solo status hold you back from meeting new people and engaging in great conversations with truly wonderful people whom you never would have met otherwise.
  • I touched on this earlier but I truly believe that this is the biggest benefit of solo travel – confidence.  I have never been a very confident person, aside from my own personal neuroses about my physical appearance, I frequently feel less then and unfortunately put myself down more often then anyone should.  While building my confidence is still a work in progress, I owe a lot of the confidence that I do have to travelling solo.  I learned that I am brave and capable, I am able to stand on my own two feet to figure things out.  And even though I may make mistakes that doesn’t mean that I am an idiot, it just means that I am human and that I made a mistake. To figure it out and to keep it moving.  So while I never thought that solo travel would help me with an issue that I have struggled with my entire life, it has and for that I am forever grateful. We are all capable beyond our wildest dreams, so why not show that silly little voice in your head what you are really made of?1F4723A3-EB03-4141-B4FD-15374267C8E0I look forward to sharing my adventures and experiences with you through this series and feel free to share any comments, thoughts and questions that you have about solo travelling in the comments.  I look forward to hearing from you, and until then Bon Voyage!  XXS