Industrial revolution

When she first saw this old, derelict textile factory in the centre of Barcelona, interior designer Cristina Rodriguez wasn’t even fazed – she knew that eventually it would be her home, and how right she was…

This was once a buzzing, thriving factory where people came to work day after day to produce fabrics and textiles. The huge space could have been daunting but, instead of feeling negative about it, Cristina plunged into a whirl of ideas and thoughts about how to make this vast area into various living zones without adding partitions or walls.

When she first designed it she was very particular that it should be a continuous space. The bedroom for example, is cleverly concealed behind the chimney and is only cut off from the living area by heavy curtains. Cristina has deliberately kept as many of the original features as possible like the brick walls and columns and where she has had to replace things she has tried to keep everything as authentic as possible. The wooden floor is made up from old railway sleepers and the windows, although brand new, are based on the old wooden ones but with an enamel covering.

Everything is based on industrial design. The sunken bath is made of polished concrete and is reminiscent of a Moorish bathhouse where Cristina and her family can relax as well as bathe. The fact that the whole house has no vivid colours and is very neutral means that you can walk from area to area and continuously feel at one. ‘I wanted to make this one large space that we could live in together, eat, sleep, bathe and work. It is very important that everything blends into one so I couldn’t have lots of colour otherwise it just would never have worked as it does. I love the tranquillity – the negative colours work here perfectly and it isn’t necessary to break it up.’

The L-shaped floor plan has two areas – the private one that is the main sitting area, bed and bathroom plus a guest room and then there is the kitchen, dining room and chill out space. Where Cristina has been particularly clever is in her design of the furniture. Often in such large spaces the furniture is totally out of proportion, but everything here is definitely on the large side and the scale of the high settees, huge lampshades and fabulous Indonesian kitchen chairs work really well.

Particularly fun are the swing and vast steel interlocking rings that are not just eye catching but are Cristina’s personal touch. ‘It’s rather like having a signature, I just wanted to make everyone smile when they walked in!’ Everything is very geometric – the straight lines of the furniture, the way the kitchen and dining room tables are aligned but Cristina likes it that way ‘It gives expression to everything and a sort of silent elegance.’

After being in the apartment for a while you do unwind – you feel that the furniture doesn’t invade your space – there is room to breathe and certainly on a stiflingly hot day in the middle of summer it must be a lifesaver to retreat back to this cool, calm scene.

Cristina Rodriguez-L’Atelier. T: +34 93 200 14 56.

Photos ©2004 Ken Sparkes Words: Lynda Clark.
First published in SPACES issue 07 ©2004 Polygon Publishing Ltd

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