Color Stories with Bárbara Aurell

Bárbara Aurell is founder and CEO of ‘Espacio en Blanco’, a creative interior design firm for residential and commercial spaces. She integrates her knowledge of interior design and her sensitivity to give color to every space. According to her vision, to apply color in a space is to give it life. She explains her creative process and the close relationship she has built with art through ‘Movimiento en Blanco’.

What does color represent to you?For me, color means life, life in general is full of colored lights. But color is life for me.

How important is color during your creative process? Since color is life, it has all the importance. Whether it is a white color or any color from the color palette. To apply color in a space is to give it life.

How can color influence spaces and people?I believe that spaces transmit the soul of people. In our office we always work from the question: 'how do you want to live'? And this 'how do you want to live' is not technically a space, it is a dream, it is a feeling, it is a desire for how you want to live things. Color helps to create those feelings that you have when you think of home, color gives soul to those spaces. Because color is life, giving color to spaces is a way of giving them life, feeling how you are going to experience that space.

Is there any color that can bore you? No, not really. Each color has its place and each color can be mixed with others so that none of them bore you, either alone or mixed. If it's well applied, there's no reason for color to get tiring.

What was the concept behind the 'white' or ‘blanco’ in Espacio en Blanco and how is it reflected in your work? Espacio en Blanco was created with the idea of whitening your mind. In fact, "close your eyes, imagine a blank space" is the next phrase. During the exercise I do with clients where I ask them how do you want to live, I always invite them to reflect, to stop and think about how they want to live. To imagine a blank canvas, a blank notebook, where I give them a pencil and ask them to write to me. A Blank Space is precisely that you can do whatever you want. It is opening a door to a world full of illusion where we are able to create and make your dreams come true.

Is there any type of color treatment or characteristic materials associated with your interior design studio?We apply color in many ways and always adapt to each client. In other words, I think that the secret of knowing how to apply color well is knowing how to listen to what the client is telling you. Sometimes we make more daring proposals because we have had the feeling that the client wanted to live with more color and then we have reduced it when we have gotten to know the client. So, it is also important to listen, to be very attentive and to know where we can apply color. So the techniques are infinite, the spaces are infinite and sometimes the color is only one.

What is your criterion behind the choice of a chromatic palette?Feeling, it's pure feeling. I apply color to myself, to the way I dress, to my spaces, to my clients, purely out of feeling.

Do you draw inspiration from other disciplines to create your proposals?I'm passionate about the art world, you could say that the art world is where I get most of my information about color. I love going to fairs, exhibitions, and artists' workshops. I have a lot of sensitivity when I enter an art space and I soak it all in. And then, I guess that is reflected in the spaces.

Can you tell us about Movimiento en Blanco?Well, Movimiento en Blanco was created. I created the interior design office Espacio en Blanco and at first we worked in my house, which is a loft in Gràcia. At that time I had a very large space, with a beautiful patio, and I knew many artists and somehow I had the feeling that there were many artists who did not have access to the big galleries, to the big fairs, to the general public or to the great public of the collecting world, for example. And I thought, why shouldn't I open my house for the love of art so that those artists could do whatever they wanted for one night? So, for 80 nights, which is quite a few, I have opened my house -for the love of art-, so that an artist can do what he/she wants. Now because of the pandemic we have changed the format a little bit and we are doing it in the studio. And the exhibitions last a month and you can visit them whenever you want. But the truth is that it's a project that I personally carry and that I love, it enriches me.

Does Espacio en Blanco have a direct relationship with Movimiento en Blanco? If so, in what way do they influence each other?In the end, like everything else, everything is contaminated, everything is mixed. It is true that I have had access to many art themes. This has also educated me on how to advise my clients, so that when I finish their houses, they ask me about what they can buy. So, I accompany them to galleries, I introduce them to artists, we go to workshops and that has really led me to the fact that the final cherry on top of the projects is always the artwork, which is something I am passionate about. Accompanying my clients with whom I have developed a friendship after all the months we have been working on their project, it is very nice to end up with a beautiful piece of art.

Do you have any project in mind that you have done that stands out for a particular color treatment? Almost all of our projects have a lot of color, actually. But look, just yesterday they sent me the photos and they are wonderful. We have done a house in Palma de Mallorca, where green was the line of union for the whole project. The client loved green and I thought of applying it somewhere. And this green line was developed in each room in some element. The kitchen has a green countertop. The bedroom has a green detail. The bathroom is also made with green marble and green is present throughout the house without it being a green house. But wherever you go, you have green. It is one of the recent projects we have just finished. This is a house that has a lot of light. This is also important to say, because sometimes color also depends a lot on the light that a space receives. And then the feeling is super cozy, because with houses that have a lot of natural light you have to work a lot, so that there is not much contrast with artificial light at night and, with natural light, to see how you sift it. The green and the color of the wood, which is a little dark on the floor, has created a very cozy atmosphere and it is very nice, it is daring because it gives class to the house, which is daring, but it is very cozy.

How is the relationship between lighting and color?Lighting and color go hand in hand. They are a couple. They go together. A color without illumination is a different color. A color with lighting is another color. You have to balance a lot in a room for that room to be pleasant, keeping in mind the amount of light that comes in with the color you are applying. I mean, many people say "no, I want an all white house." An all white house has a lot of light, but it is not pleasant because the white bounces a lot of light and it stays like a lamp inside the house. So, maybe you have to use a white that is a little stained, there are a thousand shades of white. So you have to think a lot first about light, because if not you can make a totally dark space without intending to, because you have not taken into account the light. The light actually marks almost everything.

Do you have any reference that inspires you in your handling of color?Many people. I would say artists in general, in any field. I love the way Claudia Valsells mixes color, she comes from the world of wall painting and since she was a little girl she has had it inside her and I think she uses color wonderfully, really. Also Andrea Torres, who is a photographer, takes photos of women with their backs turned and the background of the photo with the women's dresses and then traces with paint covering their eyes and those three colors are always great, with a wonderful light.

Do you have any affinity for a specific color palette or color at the moment?What happens is that every project inspires something different. So I never have an affinity for one color palette. There are always combinations that you come up with and that you can change for each personality, for each space, for each situation you want to create.

Where do you think interior design is heading in terms of color?I think people are increasingly daring to apply color. We have gone through a difficult period and now I have the feeling that everything is going to explode a little bit. In fact, the last two movements we have done in 'Movimiento en Blanco', were both related to flowering, flowering with color. So I think that interior design will continue to flourish, because we’re already seeing a lot of color in projects, not only in mine, I'm talking in general. I think people are looking forward to a bit of joy and that's very nice, because in the end if you make a cheerful space, it is absorbed by people, it contaminates, so people leave happier. I guess the intention is this, to make people happier.