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Interview with Teresa Sapey, the prolific Italian-born, Spain-based architect and interior designer

Home & Decor Singapore interviews Teresa Sapey

Sexy, ironic and fun. That’s how Teresa Sapey would describe her design philosophy, one that she has cultivated over the last three decades of her prolific design career. She recently visited Singapore for the first time and Home & Decor sat down with her to talk about everything, from design trends in 2019, to the style of her own home, and balancing one’s professional life with the private one.

Home & Decor Singapore interviews Teresa Sapey london homeTeresa describes her home as a spacious white box dotted with pops of colour.

WHAT IS ONE TREND THAT NEEDS TO BE LAID TO REST IN 2019?

For a moment, minimalism is completely finished, but although a lot of designers believe that designing a should be a minimalist white house should be a thing of the past, it doesn't mean that everyone should be creating black or maximalist houses inteaad.

Perhaps it means designing a colourful space expressed through paint, in blue, green, pink, red or yellow – just not white anymore. Or it could mean creating a space that is a bit more human-centric, or what you might call "shabby chic".

Currently, designers are also very conscious and worried about sustainability, so we are on the lookout for new materials and novel ways to recycle.

Home & Decor Singapore interviews Teresa Sapey london homeTeresa’s style includes the use of bold forms and contrasting colours.

YOU SAY A WHITE HOUSE IS OUTDATED, YET WHITE STILL FEATURES IN MANY OF YOUR PROJECTS, INCLUDING YOUR HOME.

Yes, while I feel that minimalism as a trend is out of date, I believe there are other ways of using white without resulting in a minimalist look. You see, I'm a victim of my work, so I need my own personal space to not be dictated by any trend. That’s why I prefer to live in a white box. My mind needs to go flat when I'm resting, so I live in a white canvas in order for me to paint the canvas when I'm at work.

(See Teresa Sapey's home here)

YOU ARE ITALIAN, YET YOU HAVE MADE YOUR CAREER IN SPAIN. WHAT MADE YOU MOVE THERE AND HOW HAS IT BEEN LIKE WORKING THERE?

When I wanted to set up my studio in 1990, Italy was going through a big crisis; there was no work for architects. Out of everyone who went to architecture school with me, only one became an architect. Everybody else gave the profession up.

Home & Decor Singapore interviews Teresa Sapey

There was greater opportunity in Spain, and when I arrived, the industry was booming. Another quality that I admire about the Spanish is that they believe strongly in creative freedom and leave the architects free to design. That gave me a lot of space to express myself as a creative professional, and helped me to develop my style. Tourism is a big economic driver in Spain, so I was able to be involved in designing for many hotels and hospitality projects. Those were some of the reasons why I decided to move my base to Spain.

Home & Decor Singapore interviews Teresa Sapey room mate The Room Mate Bruno hotel in Rotterdam, designed by Teresa Sapey

IN A FIELD WHERE THE BIG NAMES ARE DOMINATED BY MEN, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SELF-CONSCIOUS OF BEING A WOMAN?

My field is a unisex one, so I would say that being a woman has made no difference in my work. There are a lot of women studying in architecture school, and many who go on to practice. But there are few on the front line who are managers and directors. Why? I don’t know. But it is very difficult to be a female architect and have a personal life. The starchitect Zaha Hadid was a successful career woman, but she was not married and had no children. How can you have a personal life when you are constantly flying and sleeping in hotels?

My advice to female architects is to enjoy life as a human being, and not only as a professional. Life is made of certain steps, some of which – if missed – you will never get back. One of them is getting married, and the other is becoming a mother. We’re women, we’re made for that. I am lucky to have had my children when I was young, so I don’t have to think about their school or the nanny at my age. I am now completely free again.

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