espanyolet hand painted pink wall in kitchen

There’s nothing more gorgeous than the nuanced colors and textures of nature — the thirty shades of blue in an ocean wave, the gradient of color in a single mushroom cap or the fluid pinks and yellows of good sunset. Emulating those imperfectly perfect shades inside the home is a look we love.

Thomas Bossert and Melissa Rosenbauer are espanyolet, a textile brand and interior design firm that turns elements of the home into something near a watercolor come to life. We’re ogling all these samples of their work, including this rosé-colored plaster wall in a Berlin loft they pigmented with micro-cement in the “soft and eroded colors” they’re known for. Meet the team below in our ‘In the Studio with…’ feature now.

Meet the team: Thomas Bossert and Melissa Rosenbauer of espanyolet

Daily necessity: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Our favorite current project is: Our dear friend in Mallorca recently hired us to reimagine two of his stunning homes. This is a man with exquisite taste, who worked years in fashion and has an eye for beautiful materials and color, so we were thrilled when he asked us to design some elements for both his perfectly polished home hanging over the cliffs of Port de Soller (below) and his petit pied-à-terre in Palma’s old town (see above).

Every detail in Uli’s breathtaking sea home is an homage to the blue sea below and craggy pine trees surrounding the property. The living room’s main couch, with its clean lines and sophisticated low profile, needed a facelift so we started reimagining what it could look like with our hand-painted vintage hemp fabrics. We painted each of our vintage blankets complementary hues of blue to then be upholstered over the couch. The result is an inky blue, somewhere between a stormy Mediterranean blue and indigo, that honors the sea below. Complete with some sea-washed greens which swell up from the sea to mix with the blues, and this couch has now become a centerpiece of color which also added new depth to the entire space.

Photo credit: Victor Prieto

And since nearly every surface in both his sea home and city home is impeccably chosen for its perfection, we thought introducing some of our rustic & nubby open weave linen would provide a bit of contrast & whimsy to some of the bedrooms. Since this fabric is so different from the others with which we work, we decided to develop a whole new way to dye it, to really play up its texture & open weave. The result is a degradé pattern that fades from light to dark. In his sea house, this manifested itself as gray ombré curtains, which lent a perfect contrast to his polished microcement floors. And in his petit pied-à-terre, we made a light & airy bed scarf in undulating colors of the Mediterranean Sea. With this unique material used in different ways and our soft flowing colors, we were so excited to bring a new dimensionality to both of Uli’s spaces.

And lastly, the pièce de résistance is custom artwork Uli commissioned from us. It should come as no surprise that the Mediterranean Sea is our muse for color & texture inspiration. This, we hope, is obvious & comes to life in the beautiful piece we painted specifically for Uli, which now lovingly hangs in his sea home.

Our signature touch is… A teeny tiny bit of imperfection. We love seeing an asymmetrically arranged bed or that one pillow that’s a pop of color in an otherwise neutral room. Sure, we all aspire to be on the pages of a magazine, but not with perfectly polished spaces that lack character. Like our own personalities, we aspire to design products and spaces that have a little bit of quirk: a funny flash of color where it’s least expected, a weirdly textural pillow next to freshly pressed fine linen sheets or a one-eyed stuffed animal poking out from the corner of a room. We are big believers of wabi-sabi and admire others who embrace it too.

Favorite 3 elements in a well-designed room:

Mixed materials: as noted above, we like the idiosyncratic paired with the polished
Color: minimalism is boring; go bold
Lighting: a warm and layered lighting plan that can change with mood & occasion

Favorite design trend right now: Fabric on the walls. Last October, we traveled throughout India in search of inspiration, and one of the most charming guesthouses where we stayed was Scarlette in New Delhi, which had the most delicate hand block printed cotton voile hung on the walls as if it were wallpaper. Imagine being surrounded by yards and yards and yards of the most beautiful handmade fabric, enrobing your sleeping space. Since then, we have seen designers opting for hanging fabric like this on walls, and even from the ceilings. We love it: it’s a super unique way to add color and dimension to a room.

Design rule you love to break: We need to break the rules in the kitchen, people. Now. Nearly every single American kitchen captured on the pages of Pinterest or Instagram looks exactly the same at this moment. Why? Break the mold. Here’s an opportunity for Americans to think more like Europeans when it comes to kitchen design: do you really need to stuff every empty wall with bulky upper cabinets? Why a center island? Why does that obscenely-large refrigerator not sit flush with the rest of the space? It’s as if people in the US are designing by template, and we just can’t get on board with that.

In Europe, people are opting for eccentrically-colored cabinets, they are foregoing the bulky center island in favor of a big family farm table down the center of their kitchen. It’s inspiring and creative and really shows the personality of the homeowner. We’re particularly in love with the kitchen of German bloggers Design Tales whose kitchen looks part industrial space, part hipster coffee shop, and without knowing these two, we can imagine how cool they are as a reflection of their cool kitchen design.

Tips for creating an intentional space… Take it slow. Do not pick everything out of a catalogue. Live in the space for a little bit to see how it feels, how the light falls, where you want to keep a few corners empty. Forage and collect. Travel. Visit flea markets.

Favorite green or eco design tips: We bring plants into each of our spaces, and you’d be surprised at how instantly a space transforms once it has a bit of the outdoors in. Plants that clean the air — like English ivy or a snake plant — are particularly beautiful and functional. Plus, green spruces up any space and the texture of plants really adds dimension to a room.

Favorite natural materials: We work 80% of the time with linen, so it’s no surprise that it’s our go-to natural material. Whether it’s vintage linen which was woven on looms nearly 100 years ago with its quirky irregularity or new linen that retains some of the nubby flax fibers throughout its warp and weft…we find linen checks the boxes again and again on a material that’s beautiful, versatile, rich in texture and can be dressed up or dressed down.

Item that instantly upgrades a space… Something handmade: a centerpiece dining table made from vintage or salvaged wood, a hand-embroidered wool pillow found in the souks of Morocco, a child’s drawing framed & hung on the wall. We always advise our clients to avoid designing their spaces ‘out-of-the-box’ or bought off the pages of a catalogue. Instead, think about the one-off objects that bring you so much joy: these are generally pieces from your travels, from your family, something you made yourself. These are the pieces that upgrade a space from generic to exceptional.

Other artists/makers in the space inspiring us right now: We are in love with the textile artist, Adriana Meunié, a young woman living in the countryside of Mallorca, weaving the most eccentric textile pieces. She collects local fibers, from the sheep on her land to vintage linen and hemp dowry blankets to dried grasses of Mallorca, and creates the most spectacular wall hangings, interpretive clothing and even bags. Together with her ceramicist partner, who is also a gifted artisan, they live life off-the-grid and spend their days making, farming and foraging. We admired their lifestyle even before our lives changed in the era of coronavirus, but now more than ever, their simple lives have become more of a goal for how each of us could slow down, make life more meaningful and create beauty with our hands. And if you need a bit of a pick-me-up, tune in to her Instagram Stories where she features her baby goat Henry, complete with hand-knit sweater.

Our aesthetic in 3 words:

Imperfect. Weathered. Unexpected.

Latest inspirations: At this moment, we are super inspired by some of the British interior designers on the pages of magazines, Instagram and Pinterest. There is something so quirky about British design: the coming together of a sweet floral aesthetic next to a loud neon pattern, and gobs and gobs of STUFF layered in a room. It is the complete opposite of minimalism and pared-down greige interiors. Take for example Carlos Sánchez-García, someone we follow on Instagram: his work is maximalism to the extreme and there is something so comforting in seeing someone who doesn’t shy away from piling on color, texture and pieces from disparate design eras. His spaces are like full-orchestra conciertos and we love it.

Current mantra: Breathe. Center. Slow down. We will get through this.

Want more inspiration for the home. Explore all of this.

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