Updated: Aug 19
Alfonso Lacamara is a Chilean architect who fell in love with interior design by accident. Four years after graduating from university and whilst working for a prestigious architecture office in Santiago, he began a partnership with Claudia Manuschevich and established The Project, a design studio with a mission to bring new design alternatives to a thriving scene of young Chilean clientele. In 2018, Alfonso made a new move and started working independently, determined to create his own unique style of functional spaces, inspired by Scandinavian philosophy and incorporating traditional materials from all over South America.
We asked him to tell us more about his journey and how he incorporates Andean elements into a more contemporary functional space.
How did you start in interior design? What inspired you to become an interior designer?
When I finished my studies in architecture, I started working for an office doing many different kinds of projects and the ones I enjoyed the most, were those that incorporated the design of interiors and furniture. That’s why, when I started working independently, I knew exactly the area of architecture I wanted to work in and the kind of projects that motivated me to maximise my creativity and sense of design aesthetic.
I was always interested in understanding how people relate to the space in their home, from its functionality to the daily experiences that are a part of everyday life. By understanding different solutions for space, the right lightning, different materials, textures, colours, etc. you can contribute and help people to find comfort, happiness and inspiration in their own home. In the end, for me it is about being able to interpret and understand human beings and how they relate to their own intimate spaces.
How would you define your style and what materials are commonly found in your projects?
I don’t know if I have a defined style matching a “decoration style” but my inspiration has always come from Scandinavian design. The way they understand space, the use of fine materials, the design and functionality of Scandinavian furniture. Obviously, you have to bring this inspiration to reality, including what this means in your own country and how this meets each client’s needs.
I love working with materials like linen, wool, wood, marble, leather, iron, natural fibres and using indoor plants. I am always trying to achieve the best balance amongst them, including using fresh and joyful colours to create welcoming spaces, with warm and plentiful detail.
How would you define the Andean style? What would it be its main contribution to interior design?
Andean style represents the intricate and intimate details of each culture and country across The Andes; Andean style celebrates the unique and indigenous craftwork of each region.
Today it contributes to the innovative development and reinterpretation of design, incorporating natural and hand-made elements, sustainability of materials and fair trade. The colour palette is inspired by the diversity of the Andean landscape and has become a joint work between the designer with their creativity and artistry, and the craftsmen with their knowledge of traditional materials and ancestral techniques.
What are some of your favourite brands that you incorporate in your projects?
There are some great designers and artisans in Chile who are creating designs and products encompassing the Andean aesthetic, and I always try to incorporate them in my projects to create a good balance between contemporary and traditional.
Some of my favourites whom I feature in some of my projects include:
Maia Design by María Jesús Seguel who makes handmade lamps and ceramics inspired by the traditional Chilean craft.
Fazlamare by Jacinta Darraidu who created a collection of mirrors inspired by the submarine world of the Chilean pacific coast.
Casa Sur makes rugs and threads in Patagonia using traditional loom.
Cestera Home has lamps and baskets made of natural native fibres from southern region of The Lakes in Chile.
Contraluz uses copper from the north of Chile in hand-made lamps.
Another brand that I love is Prima Muebles by Ganstón Fuenzalida.
The Product Culture is also interesting. Created by Javier Henriquez and Benjamin Moreno, they have gathered Chilean designers known as “slow makers” (i.e. low-scale hand-made designers); As a collective, Product Culture is a selection of high-quality design products made in Chile.
Our studio also contributes to this return to low-scale and hand-made trade, with rugs made in La Ligua, a little town 150km away north of Santiago, famous for its wool threads work.
All of these designers, through their work and mutual collaborations with local artisans, have made it possible to reconnect to our origins and traditions that are at risk of being forgotten.
Who are your top 5 South American studios and designers?
I don’t have a top 5, but there are a couple of studios and designers that I love and are regular source of inspiration.
In Chile, I love the work of Broca, an interior design and furniture studio inspired by nature. In Perú, I like the designer-artisan work made by Puna Estudio and the interior design work of Ro de Rivero Studio. From Argentina, I like the work of designer Cristian Mohaded and the interior design office Mesopotamia which also creates furniture, textiles and ceramics. In Colombia, the well-known interior design and architecture studio, 5 Solidos, and the handmade designs of Fango Studio.
To know more about Alfonso Lacamara and his work visit www.alfonsolacamara.cl