Lorenzo Castillo

Beauty is Within

02/24/2020 · By Enrique Bueres
lorenzo castillo interior designer openning
Interior designer Lorenzo Castillo is one of the world’s 100 best interior designers according to the bible of design Architectural Digest USA. © Luisma Reyes

He is Spain’s most internationally renowned interior designer. His work is known and sought-after in many countries, including the United States, China, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Portugal. Lorenzo Castillo leads a team of eight people carrying out comprehensive projects ranging from architecture of spaces to the last decorative detail.

The creations of Lorenzo Castillo (Madrid, 1968) aim to make life more beautiful, in the broadest sense of the word. He puts his talent and sensitivity into designing mansions, homes and hotels (several Room Mate Hotels, for example) as well as restaurants in cities such as Madrid, London and Brussels (Marcos Morán’s restaurants, among others). He also designs fabric collections for Gastón y Daniela and rugs for The Rug Company. Castillo is currently developing projects abroad, so he spends much of his time on airplanes. We managed to steal a few minutes from his busy schedule to chat about inspiration, beauty today, and new challenges.

Can you explain the difference between interior designer, decorator and interior architect?

A decorator starts working when the house is finished. Sometimes, the work of an interior designer and the work of an architect overlap, since their duties, which are to design the interior of a building, get mixed. Formerly, architects were clearly artists and, therefore, they were also interior designers, like Robert Adam. Today this is a profession dealing mainly with the technical and the executive aspects of the building, but today architects have to share space with interior designers.

How do you define yourself?

I’d say I’m an interior designer. In my projects, 90 percent of the decoration is made to order for the client. It’s always a one-off, comprehensive project and I take care of everything, from the architecture to the last decorative detail, like choosing the crockery or the tablecloths.

How much did your family influence your vocation?

It was a visual influence. I’ve been lucky enough to live in very nice houses. I knew I wanted to become an interior designer since I was a child, and their respect and support for my vocation were crucial. 

What is your first memory related to the world of design?

The décor of my parents' house. I used to experiment with my mother, changing fabrics, sofas and wallpapers, or rearranging furniture around the house. It was a lot of fun.

What would you say is the mainstream global trend defining 21st century interior design?

There is a very clear return to classicism following the impersonal 90s and early 2000s, where there was no high decoration. I’m talking about Spain, of course, because abroad things are different. Interior designs used to be very measured, in white and grey, with a couple of old pieces placed rather unnaturally, like in a museum, along with some abstract contemporary paintings with little colour. That dullness has given way to a much richer decoration, with art pieces and antiques, books, rugs of different origins, more elaborate walls, plaster ceilings, natural floors made high quality wood or stone, and a much warmer light. They are more lively, natural houses.

Where does your artistic inspiration come from?

From much of the international architecture of any era, and also from 17th and 18th century Spanish art. I started off as an antiquarian, which helped me a lot when it came to gaining experience in decorative arts — it’s important for a decorator to distinguish different artistic styles.

How do you approach a new project? Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I’m especially inspired by the family that will live in that space, but also by the house’s location. I’m now working in Hong Kong, New York and Como (Italy) — places that are so different from each other that each one conveys a different inspiration.

“When I start a new project, I’m especially inspired by the family that will live in that space”

How would you define your style?

A classic style reinvented through a new colour palette and a new redistribution of the rules and criteria of old styles. True modernity also means creating new languages ​​with references to the past. It has always happened in fashion, with names such as Gaultier, Saint Laurent or Galliano. Why not in decoration?

How do you manage to give life to a project so that it becomes unique but also reflects your personal touch?

All my projects have a soul, a life. I do it by resorting to art, books and personal memories capable of creating the feeling of an inhabited house, of a home that conveys peace.

What projects you are most proud of?

All the houses I’ve lived in because I decorate them in my spare time and use them as experiments to showcase my style in different ways. Right now, I’m very excited decorating a house in an Asturian meadow looking onto Picos de Europa. The interior design is very unusual for the place where the house is located.

How would you define beauty in our time?

Beauty is the maximum harmony achieved through the fair proportion of a perfect canon, colour palette and balance of forms. It’s an almost impossible recipe, but sometimes it can be achieved. You realize when that happens because you’re overcome by a feeling of maximum happiness.

Do you think beauty should be frequented in order to be able to understand it and recreate it?

We must surround ourselves with beauty because it affects our mood. But I wish that were easier in such a complicated world.

Social networks are sources of ideas for creators and arbiters of elegance. What’s your relationship with them?

I only use Instagram to show my work, and I enjoy the comments of foreign fans. Pinterest doesn't interest me at all, I prefer to resort to books for help and inspiration.

What’s the state of interior design today?

Spanish decoration is going through a magnificent phase. It has become more democratic; it has many followers and people have fun with it, they’re not afraid to use it. 

In which cities have you developed projects?

In Santo Domingo, New York, Paris, London, Florence, Como, Brussels, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai and throughout Spain, of course.

What are you working on now?

Mmm, let me think… Coming up are projects in Monaco, Porto, and Paris ...

How many people work in your studio?

We are eight in total, all young architects. And we don't want to grow more because I like to make designs myself. I think that makes us more authentic and honest towards the client. I’m not interested in turning the studio into a machine of similar projects, or even worse, of copycats from other designers.

What are your favourite colours to work with?

It’s hard to pick one or several of them because each colour helps me achieve a goal. I’d say the blue palette — navy, turquoise, indigo, and lapis lazuli. Also, green and warm yellow, ochres, earth and sand, light brown...

Who’s been your role model in interior design?

In Spain I’ve had few roles models, but I’ve been very fond of Duarte Pinto Coelho. I like and have been more influenced by 20st century American, English and French decorators, as well as by Italian Renzo Mongiardino.

What new assignment or challenge would you like to work on?

I would like to design more. I’m running my own brand [Lorenzo Castillo] and I’m very involved in the design of fabrics, wallpapers and rugs, which are distributed in Spain by Gastón y Daniela and The Rug Company. The collection is being so successful, especially in the United States, that we want to expand the range on offer.

What do you expect from the new decade that has just begun?

Lots of inner peace to allows me to stay the same.