Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: ArchitectTeresa Sapey
Location: Downtown Madrid, Spain, across from the main entrance of Retiro Park
Size: 142 square metres
That’s interesting: Spanish speakers can hear more about this home in a video made by Houzz Spain.
Sapey considers herself a nomad – just during her 25 years in Madrid she has moved five times and says, with a laugh, that she’s “not ruling out moving a sixth.”
In Sapey’s apartment, location and setting are everything: it is on an upper floor overlooking Retiro Park, a green space in the middle of Madrid. “It’s like a nest on top of the best tree in Madrid. I live with a view of the sea: the sea of Retiro Park. The treetops change like waves. Sometimes they’re green, then orange, dark red, brown … they also vary depending on the day, the light … it’s like a magic box,” says the Italian-born architect.
We see Sapey here lying in her La chaise chair, from Vitra, which was designed by Charles and Ray Eames.
Panton chairs, a vase by Fornasetti and numerous pieces of art, some of which she even made herself, fill the space. The photograph of the building in the process of being built is by Aitor Ortiz, while the piece on the wall that reads, in neon lights, ‘It is more than a house, it is a world,’ is her own work. “The style of this homeis not that of an architect, a decorator or an interior designer. It is the style of Teresa Sapey, the person. Here I am, hence the message of this work: this is not my house, it is my world,” she says.
“I have many inherited objects: rugs, tables, paintings … Others are returns. Clients who didn’t like certain items gave them back to me, so I kept them. Others I’ve been buying over the years. This is not really a home that I designed: it’s more like one that I assembled, in which I placed all the things that I have and that I like,” says Sapey.
Here we see everything from a pair of Barcelona armchairs designed by Mies van der Rohe (seen from the back) to an Arco lamp, a classic Achille Castiglioni design. There is also video artwork by Julian Opie in a light box on the back wall as well as an inflatable snake by Niki de Saint Phalle on the couch.
“I lived in Turin until I was 25, then in France and finally in Spain, where I’ve been for 27 years. I feel Mediterranean because I am neither Spanish nor Italian, and besides that I feel very French because my family is from the French Riviera, and at least part of my education took place in Paris. Sometimes, culturally, I feel like a fish out of water – but it doesn’t really bother me,” she says.
“My creative process is the sum of all of this: my projects are refined in French style, with great attention to detail– even those details you can’t see – as a good Italian [would do], and the strength they have is completely Spanish. The energy and fearless experimentation with larger-than-life objects is something I have absorbed from living in Spain,” she says.
There is a small desk in the room, as we can see on the right, although Sapey doesn’t make much use of it. “Houses have changed; they no longer need a studio or a library. You can work from a tablet anywhere in the apartment. I often work lying on a sofa. I don’t need a desk anymore,” she says.
On the opposite side of the small sitting room, closer to the balconies overlooking Retiro Park, we see the Chemistubes vases she designed for Vondom – clear evidence that she is completely fearless when it comes to experimenting with oversize objects. In the background, we can see a work of art she created that was inspired by Bauhaus symbols.
“I am an architect, but I feel like an artist. I feel like an artist and so I create. Creativity and creation are my bread and butter: to invent, solve, create, see, go farther and – have fun. In the meantime, you get something out of it: you discover. All of this can be achieved through objects, spaces, projects or life itself,” she says.
“I’m inspired by tons of artists: Daniel Buren, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, Maurizio Cattelan, Alighiero Boetti, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons – they’re my idols, but I’m not sure how much of them there is in my home. They’re in my head for sure, so it’s possible that their work is reflected in the spaces I design, through my own interpretation,” she says.
The hallway comes to an end at this reading nook that leads to the last room of the apartment: Sapey’s bedroom. It is a very bright and welcoming space, which Sapey furnished with an Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, and an intensely orange, extra-large pendant lamp, that came out of a collaboration with Masters of Linen. In the background there are shelves full of art and design books.
Yet overall, Sapey likes sharing her designs with the world. “People know me mostly for my project in Madrid’s Puerta de America hotel parking garage. I think this was a turning point, both for me and for the design world. However, I also draft and design houses, for which I’m far less well known. There are a lot of things I cannot show due to professional confidentiality, because the owners don’t want me to. I’ve also done very small projects that people don’t know are mine, like the Christmas lights on Serrano street, for example. Very few people know and that makes me sort of sad,” Sapey says.
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