Designing an Argentinian Country House

Although I know next to nothing about interior styles of the Altiplano in Argentina, I recognize great design when I see it. While particlar design styles vary widely the world over, the foundation principles are always the same. The basic rules of design, whether for a chair, or a car, an interior space or a building, are always the same. In design school we are taught about composition and balance. We practice the placement of pattern next to negative space. We study the play of light on objects. We learn about repetition of form and how pleasing that can be. We fool around with the color wheel until we dream in color, if we didn’t already. (And then, ofcourse, we break those rules when our gut tells us to do so but….not that often). Look, for example, at the way this house unfolds from room to room.



Notice how the dark ceramic floors / irregular white washed walls / red ethnic rugs spill over from space to space. A continuous theme flows everywhere and we love it. When I look closer at the elements within the rooms I am delighted and entertained by the local folk art and brilliant colors . This is the colonial home (called a finca) of architect Carlos Gronda. It was once a church set amongst tobacco and sugar fields. The sanctuary became today’s livingroom, the owner’s bedroom was the chapel, and the exterior gallery was the cemetery.

This area of the world was inhabited since at least 1200 BC by Indian people who lived and worked the land and worshipped their gods. When the Spanish conquistadors came they brought with them the culture of Europe. The designer is descended from those Spanish peoples though, it appears, derives vast inspiration from the indigenous pre-Spanish aesthetic and spiritual beliefs. The kitchen pictured above houses a whimsically hand painted italian chest which displays a collection of ekekos, Bolivian dolls believed to bring prosperity and good luck. To the right there appears to be a colorful collection of Madonnas and other Christian figures.

The “Tin-Cu” table was designed by Carlos Gronda and Arturo de Tezanos Pinto, partners in Usos, a furniture design studio which creates and “reinterprets” historical design in new and delightful ways. We are told that the table’s name refers to a Bolivian dance and that the colored spheres are a take off on pom poms that lamas wear. ?It’s fun, isn’t it?

This outdoor bedroom has a fascinating combination of fabrics. A Bolivian rug covers the floor. A 1970’s throw lays upon the bed. And a toile de jouy panel hangs on the wall. I love using all different reds together….it’s unexpected. Although I don’t know if I would have combined these particular ones. What do you think?

Turquoise shows it’s bright little face here and there throughout the house. It makes me smile.

I was surprised to see the design of this exterior dining room. It appears to be Swedish inspired, although that is not likely. By the way, if you like Swedish design, don’t miss this post on one of my favorite design blogs, Cote de Texas. Following is a photo of the exterior of this Spanish colonial church turned house. It’s always interesting to see how it all fits together.

Photos from The World of Interiors March 2009

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