Home Inspiration “We have a long way to go in professionalising interior design” Rosa Urbano

“We have a long way to go in professionalising interior design” Rosa Urbano

by Elena Abascal
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Head of the design studio “Urbano by U” since 2015, the firm has executed numerous residential, retail and office space projects. Each project combines thought, aesthetics and functionality along with a personal, innovative touch. The hallmark of her work is the passion she brings to each project and her versatility. She like both simple projects and complex projects, those that are more extravagant those that are less. As a reference in the sector and Director of the Diploma and Master courses of the UCM-Revista Nuevo Estilo -Mindway, Urbano advocates the professionalisation of interior design to prevent unfair competition and amateurism.

Art is one of your great passions. How has this influenced your career as a designer? 

Art is one of the foundations of the interior designer. We have to know about art and stay current. I consider it a plus that adds value to our work.

Do you approach each project as a blank canvas where you can imagine, combine and create?

I approach each project first as a volume and as a layout, always with a prior concept of what the space will be. It is not so much a blank canvas as letting the needs form “a whole” with the concept and the vision. These elements fuse together and the project appears.

You have been a professional interior designer for 20 years. What was the project that started it all?  

I began with a small project in a home in Arturo Soria. It was to give it a new distribution, furnishings and lighting. It was a good project to start and a good client. I subsequently did several houses for them.  

And the project that marked a before and after?

All projects in my career have made their mark. No project is better or worse than another, not for the size, the project or the budget. However, I do remember the offices at Paramount España were a challenge at a moment when I had never considered doing such ambitious projects.

Floor designed by Rosa with the Radial model from Hisbalit’s Art Factory collection

How has interior design changed over these two decades?

It has changed a lot: two decades ago people hardly knew what an interior designer was. Now, however, you don’t have to explain when you mention your profession. But, I think we have a long way to go in truly professionalising interior design, considering the importance of the industry in terms of new homes or renovations.

It’s true that clients call studios commissioning us to take charge of everything but it is also the case that there is a lot of “amateurism”. For example, people with taste who dedicate themselves to this, decorators who have no experience but have a certain style, or people who merely copy what they see in social media. We must professionalise interior design, establishing the basis for quality work, fees, etc.

What has been your main source of inspiration?  

The source of my inspiration is the client, the life I see and feel around me and the passion I put into each project. All that together with my experience, travels or curiosity.

What words define the philosophy of URBANO by U?

We are open, flexible, passionate about our work, planning each project down to the last detail. We like simple projects and complex projects, those that are more extravagant those that are less. This versatility allows us to know different needs and different clients. We do very different projects that bring a great deal of know-how to the studio.

Blue Bar Palace, the summer terrace of the Hotel Westin Palace Madrid, created by Rosa Urbano with an original floor from Hisbalit’s Art Factory that glows in the dark. DecorAcción 2018.

What is the most attractive trend at the moment?

I am not attracted so much to trends, which of course I take into account, as to the formalism of the project. That is, the needs, the psychology of the client and what they need.  

What elements repeat in your projects?

As colours: black and white, as the basis for everything. Blue has been in all my projects this year and the last. For my 2020 projects I will incorporate a big change.

I try to leave the mark of my work in all my projects: something different, something artistic, something intangible but that adds value.

Three materials you couldn’t live without?

Wood, marble and glass.

A perfect chromatic combination?

I have two: night blue with black and white or green with yellow and black.

In addition to running your own studio, teaching has also been a big part of your career. You are currently coordinating two courses specialised in Interior Design at the Complutense University in Madrid. What advice do you give to the new generations who want to pursue a career in interior design?

Since 2013 and as Director of the Diploma and Master of the UCM-REVISTA NUEVO ESTILO- MINDWAY, I discovered a facet of myself I didn’t know existed. Hundreds and hundreds of students have passed through the Diplomas and Masters in Interior Design. They all know me and know my advice is always that “the interior designer must have a very open attitude, since they have to know how to interact and deal with clients”. I also try to transmit to the next generation the need to professionalise interior design. From the first day we must transmit that our VALUE is not in the building work but the creativity we give in the PROJECT, the familiarity with all of the materials, knowing the costs, etc.

What would be your greatest professional challenge?

A hotel in Asia.

Rosa Urbano with an original floor from Hisbalit’s Art Factory

Last summer the colour blue was your source of inspiration to evoke tranquillity and transport the visitor to a paradise on the terrace of the Hotel Westin Palace Madrid.  What do you see as the indispensable colours of summer 2019?

In the summer of 2019 blue will continue to be a must, but green in almost all its tones is also a strong contender.

The terrace of the Blue Bar Palace was surfaced with a personalised design from Hisbalit. It seems a true work of art with arches drawn in mosaic tile, some glowing in the dark. Did our personalisation service help you to make the original idea a reality?

I was inspired by a pool and the sea that Madrid lacks. Hisbalit helped me, advised me, we did some tests and they were more than equal to the challenge of the project and we managed to achieve what we wanted!

Restaurant of the Mindway with a curved wall surfaced in DOPPEL mosaic tile

In one of your latest projects you chose our new DOPPEL collection, inspired by the centenary of the Bauhaus. Why rectangular tiles? What was the project and what was the style?

This was the Mindway project. I installed it in a giant curve and the result was explosive. I like this material because of its simplicity (inspired in the Bauhaus), joints, and while understated it is a great product that offers lots of versatility, both in itself and in its installation.

I was fascinated from first sight. I chose the white model with the grey joint… Marvellous!

If you had to choose one of our collections what would it be?

I want to say that all the pieces are marvellous but I suppose I would take the original ones, the most simple, the ones that allow you to play with both the colour and the sizes. I would choose UNICOLOR, and of course DOPPEL that is practically made for the philosophy of URBANO by U.

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