A chat with leading Chilean interior designer Jaime Beriestain

After a decade of professional practice in his homeland, Santiago de Chile, Jaime Beriestain moved to Barcelona to study for an Interior Design Postgraduate Degree at the BAU Design College. In 2002, he founded Jaime Beriestain Studio. Ever since, alongside his team of professionals, Jaime has been working on important national and international interior design projects. In 2010, he opened a showroom in the centre of Barcelona, near Gaudi’s La Pedrera building, showcasing a selection of restored mid-20th-century furniture, books, and other interiors products. With the inauguration of his Concept Store and Café in 2013, Jaime Beriestain embarked upon his activities in the hospitality industry.

Jaime’s own designs include a wide variety of objects including lamps, chairs, rugs, sunglasses and sandals. He even creates his own recipes.  He is currently renovating an apartment in Eixample, which is he will be selling through Lucas Fox. It is located close to the Lucas Fox Property Lounge in Pau Claris which Jaime also designed.

LFS: Since you opened the studio in 2001 in Barcelona, what are you most proud of? What has been your biggest challenge?

JB: I arrived as a postgraduate design student, and having won a competition I was able to renew the design of the Hilton hotel in Barcelona. At that time, 18 years ago when everything began, I had to take the opportunity to create my own studio and … it worked! Today I am very proud to be in charge of 27 architects and projects all over the world. In a way, I’m a self-made man.

LFS: How has architecture and interior design changed in Barcelona and around the world since you opened your studio?

JB: There is a clear evolution towards interest in details and quality. Today there is a wide creative offering of excellent quality.

LFS: How would you describe your style? Where does it come from?

JB: Warm, bright, cozy, timeless. My work is my life. I do not have an ‘inspiration routine’. That is the beauty of inspiration, you do not know where you’re going to find it and it catches you by surprise. Inspiration comes from discipline and constant daily work. Many of my projects have been inspired by a work of art. Another important source of inspiration is to be constantly open to the outside world. I have many sources of inspiration. I am an ‘information collector’. I have boxes of samples: paintings, photographs, smells, anecdotes, memories…

LFS: What do you look to achieve in every project to make it outstanding?

JB: There must be a striking aesthetic appearance, and also the spaces should emanate warmth and comfort. Admiring something beautiful makes one feel happier and comfort has a clear relaxing effect. It is essential to spend a lot of time in comfort: lighting, proportions, symmetry, fragrances…

LFS: How do you decide if a project is right for you and your team?

JB: I have a boutique studio where we develop a limited number of projects, and this allows me to design and dedicate the necessary time to each of my clients. Creating a close relationship with my clients is an essential part of my job. The studio bears my name, and it is important that the client can communicate directly with me. We accept assignments that represent a professional challenge, those that allow us to develop our know-how and enhance our creativity.

LFS: How do you make sure that you capture your client’s personality in your work?

JB: I organise sessions with my clients to help me understand their personality, needs and expectations. Once I have a clear idea of what they want, I then propose a customised project.

LFS: What key materials do you most enjoy working with?

JB: Materials that offer the possibility of transformation. For example, the marbles or noble woods with multiple finishes and textures (smooth, honed…).

LFS: Do you prefer to work on residential projects, restaurants or hotels?

JB: We carry out all kinds of projects. Houses are ideal spaces to work more detail into a concept, utilising micro-design and customisation. On the other hand, in a hotel or restaurant, more risky concepts are required that can’t be carried out in houses. Every place has to have a coherent concept and its own identity. Designing a restaurant or a hotel involves the same level of work, the same concern, the same search for materials and the same technical approaches. The only thing that changes is the surface.

LFS: How has your childhood in Chile influenced your designs and your way of working?

JB: Since I was young I have worked in workshops with master craftsmen and this has allowed me to develop my sensitivity and curiosity. I am fascinated by the work of artisans and I involve them a lot in my projects.

LFS: What would you say are the key trends in design and architecture for the rest of 2018 and beyond?

JB: I have noticed a return to the authentic and traditional. We are appreciating work done by hand, the concept of a “unique piece” and the use of natural materials like ceramics, rattan, linen, stone, leather and life-long materials such as terrazzo or raw metals. You can find these in hand-crafted ceramics, individually crafted wall tiles or natural textiles with traditional prints.

LFS: Which projects have made you feel the most interested or excited?

JB: My level of involvement is the same for all my projects, but if I have to highlight two private homes… I was excited by a flat I did in the Sant-Gervasi neighbourhood of Barcelona. The clients left me carte blanche to transform their apartment from the 80s into a Haussman-style home with excellent finishes and materials. The other project was in Geneva. A sixteenth century listed building that I had to partially restore. With the help of several artisans we were able to give a new life to exquisite moldings and floors. In both cases, the clients were lovers of contemporary art and, thanks to that, I was able to enjoy collecting materials in galleries and art fairs.

LFS: Barcelona has become a meeting point for all kinds of creative industries in recent years, not just design and architecture. What do you think the talent of the city can offer to the rest of the world?

JB: The people who make up Barcelona are daring entrepreneurs. It shows that they are passionate people, with high standards and a desire to elevate their ideas to masterpiece levels. In Barcelona there are many international creators who meet and enrich each other. There is no envy, but a lot of respect and desire to help each other. People are themselves and do not pretend to be anything other than who they really are.

LFS: You are currently renovating an apartment in the Eixample. Tell us a little about what you are trying to create.

JB: It is a conceptual project in which each space, covering and finish has a blank canvas to create and experiment. I have used materials and techniques in an unprecedented way. The result is a high-class residence, bright, timeless, warm and welcoming. There is sophistication in every detail. It is subtle but of high quality. I wanted to make the most of the natural light offered by the large windows and double aspect. All the materials used are highly durable and designed to be enjoyed for a long time.

LFS: How do you spend your weekends in Barcelona? For someone new to the city, what would you say are the experiences that shouldn’t be missed?

JB: I do not usually stay in Barcelona at the weekends. I am in my country house in Bages, looking after my ecological garden, my goats and chickens. I need this connection with the earth to inspire me to create.

But on the days when I am in the city I would recommend:

  • MACBA: There are always exciting exhibitions.
  • Jaime Beriestain Concept Store: My restaurant and shop at any time of the day, for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dinner. Very often I bring vegetables from my garden
  • Senda Gallery: Fascinating artists are always featured.
  • Pabellón Mies Van der Rohe: The lines and proportions are always inspiring.
  • Zuu: For dinner with a very entertaining show.

Below are some examples of Jaime Beriestain’s creations in Barcelona:

Hotel Sofia
Eixample Residence
Sant Gervasi Residence