At Arper, we think about our work in many ways: about what elements or places influence and inspire us, and how that influence grows into larger ideas. But, just as important is the consideration of our work in place – how our objects join, blend, and become part of the place they are in. So it is always a good experience to see our pieces in place, and to experience how they become part of the spaces and lives that they join.
This idea was particularly present as we made our way through Portugal and Spain on a recent photoshoot. We had the good fortune to spend time in several extraordinary places – places both simple and refined, quiet and expressive, clearly contemporary yet living with, and listening to, the past.
Photoshoots are complex outings, involving intense work sessions and ongoing technical and aesthetic decisions. But a beautiful space can inspire even admidst the chaos of the creative process. Specially in private residences.
It was a pleasure to spend an entire day in a beautiful house, to see how the light changes, how the house shifts its rhythm and mood, how it speaks about its owners in their absence. And to see how the things we make blend with these spaces.
The Lisboa house, the work of Aires Mateus, was a 17th century city house on a small, quiet street on the hills of Lisboa; its garden has a spectacular view on the river. To the original house, including the kitchen, dining room, living room and library, the owners have added a new wing for the bedrooms and bathrooms. The beautiful original stone floor and steps remain, merging peacefully with a new wooden floor. We were struck by the great sensibility apparent in this place: the grace and talent to respect the old while combining it with the new. Here was history as background to the daily life of a young family with two small boys. Light pours through spaces filled with art and books, where Arper’s furniture seemed effortlessly at home.
In Coimbra we came to the home of two doctors, who have two daughters and a passion for art and architecture. The attention to detail was evident everywhere; each element was carefully executed. The wood floor, salvaged from an old building, was redistributed piece by piece throughout the new house. The construction took 4 years – the deliberate choice of the architect, Joao Mendes Ribeiro, a friend of the owners and passionate about this, his first residential project. The lavish investment of time resonates in every clear, spare line and angle of this space.
The Pontevedra house resembles a miniature fishing village, set on a small bay in Galicia, a region in northern Spain on the border with Portugal. The house, while totally different from the surrounding structures, feels, remarkably, entirely natural and harmonic. Its zinc roofs gracefully reference the traditional buildings of the area. It is a fascinating project: three generations of a family, living together in small separated houses that share common spaces. Using a very intelligent system to join or separate, any space can become an individual area – or can combine with others to be shared.
The owner is a woman who blends warmth with passion for culture and lifestyle. The architect, Alfonso Penela, who’s projects won the Premio de Arquitectura Juana de Vega award, designed both the house and the owner’s small hotel and restaurant.
We returned home recharged and informed, with compelling images in our minds of Arper at home in all of these widely divergent spaces. There was a serene atmosphere and a slow, relaxed sense of time, both in the spaces and their owners. We found a passion for carefully executed details – not in the sense of cold perfection, but a sense of reduction to the essential and relaxed refinement; friendly, simple and warm. All characteristics and values that we work to instill in Arper furniture.
Edited by Jeannette Altherr
Photo credits: Marco Covi
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