Visitors have long marveled at the culture and natural beauty of Spain’s northeastern region and, if you’ve had the pleasure to visit it, you know why.
Snow-capped Pyrenean peaks surround deep valleys and fruitful vineyards while its sunny Mediterranean shoreline lures tourists with its golden sandy beaches and breathtaking coves along the rocky coast. Medieval villages such as Peratallada and Besalú—with their Romanesque churches, monasteries, and ruins dating back to Roman and Greek times—offer a history lesson worth making the trip for. And of course, there is the crown jewel of the region: Barcelona. Spain’s second largest city is its most visited, and it's a fabulous example of the unique character of Catalonia. Historical landmarks give way to modern structures with a surrealistic vibe, thanks to the influence of artist Salvador Dalí and architect Antoni Gaudi.
“Barcelona is a bold, dynamic and innovative city, and this is reflected in its architecture and interior design, which is creative, imaginative, often even futuristic,” said Barcelona-based interior designer Graham Collins. “This forward-looking, contemporary spirit is underpinned by inspiration drawn from the historic city—the narrow lanes and Gothic palaces of the old quarter, and the Catalan Art Nouveau mansions of the Eixample district.”
So how do you bring Barcelona’s one-of-a-kind character into your home? By taking inspiration and design cues from the source, of course.
Collins says that many Catalan houses and apartments boast brick or stone walls, vaulted brick ceilings, and wooden beams.
“I like to work with these rustic elements, playing off their roughness and authenticity with strong contemporary lines in the furnishings, and adding softness with natural fabrics such as linen,” he said.
Collins says that historically Catalans have been masters of ironwork, tiling, and cabinetry. For proof, look no further than Barcelona’s floors paved with at least 10 kinds of original panots, or tiles, each designed by a different architect. That makes walking around the city feel like a museum experience.
Color is also an essential part of Catalan design identity. “Catalan architects such as Gaudí played marvelously with color, particularly in the vibrant mosaics you see on many Modernista buildings or the brightly patterned hydraulic floor tiles,” said Collins. “I love to include rich Mediterranean hues—blues, greens, pops of yellow and scarlet—in my interior designs.”