Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Pedro Ayora and Ana Salinero, co-founders of INHABIT. This young studio has managed to stand out nationally and internationally with only four years of life. Their creations are of exquisite singularity combining unconventional materials while always finding the right balance between elegance and nature.
+ On your website, you say that “Great things are never done by just one person.” How is this reflected in each project?
We believe that success, and I’m not only referring to the success of a project, but the success of any initiative or idea lies in the team that stands behind it.
In our daily work, we try to make everyone participate in the creative process of each project. We invest valuable time discussing and maturing the different ideas and proposals until we reach the final result, which is going to be executed (and rarely the initial idea is the final one).
+ Another of your maxims is “think out of the box”. How do you manage to combine functionality and this differentiating plus in terms of techniques and materials?
It is not an easy task, but we believe that introspection about what surrounds us can open a new window of innovation and creativity. We find inspiration anywhere, from a painting to a color, a landscape, or a song.
We try to think about the possible duality of some materials and finishes and develop alternative applications based on their shape, color, or texture.
At the same time, we need to make each project unique. For this, it is essential to elaborate a good briefing with customers where we soak up their tastes, way of life, habits, and hobbies so that everything is noticeably felt in the project and provides an exceptional and personal character.
+ You have carried out projects in 7 countries, and you are still unstoppable. What strategy have you followed to grow steadily and successfully at an international level?
We love to travel, both for pleasure and for work (to visit exhibitions, fairs, discover new products, systems, and suppliers).
Since INHABIT was born, working in other countries was one of our main objectives. In no case did we see it as a barrier but an enriching opportunity to do what we do in different contexts and cultures.
We achieved these goals, leaving our fears behind and taking the opportunities without doubts. With effort (a project abroad sometimes requires three times as much effort) and good organization, anything is possible.
+ What kind of project do you like the most, and where do you feel most fulfilled?
The truth is that each project comes with different challenges, and we love it.
For example, commercial projects (restaurants, hotels, stores, etc.) allow us to be much more creative by using less conventional materials and combinations, designing and manufacturing unique custom-made pieces, creating very dramatic illuminations, etc. Also, we are in charge of the project’s full creative direction, and we get involved in the graphic design process, logo, and corporate image to make sure that everything follows the same line.
On the other hand, residential projects are much more personal and allow us to connect with the client. They are usually designed with more time and a higher detail level, affecting everything (construction solutions, finishes, lighting, etc.).
Anyway, we don’t feel more fulfilled with some projects compared to others. In the end, it all ends up being part of the same process and, sometimes, from an idea that we had initially developed in a more “crazy” way for a restaurant, we get another, more mature, for a residential house.
+ On what project or projects are you currently working?
We are working on several projects, each in different phases and locations.
In Marbella, we had the privilege of designing the new office of a well-known real estate agency, located in the famous Puente Romano hotel, and we are in the last phase of work so we will be able to enjoy the result in a few days.
We have also just started the works of fully renovating an apartment, also in Puente Romano. It has a the Mediterranean and very personal style.
We are finishing the project of another complete makeover of a house where we intend to review the style of traditional Andalusian architecture and contemporize it.
On the coast of Cadiz, we are working on two projects. The first one is a single-family house of almost 1,000 m2. The construction is 40% complete and will finish by the end of the year, a moment for which we cannot wait, as the clients have become friends and it is a house designed to the millimeter for this family.
The other project is undoubtedly one of our biggest challenges to date. It is the rehabilitation of a more than 200 years old building for an exclusive boutique hotel.
In Brazil, we have been working for almost a year on a unique project. It is undoubtedly the largest in terms of volume that we have designed so far. We cannot reveal what it is about, but we can say that its 65 hectares of land and more than 7,000 m2 of construction have taken us out of our comfort zone.
In Havana, Cuba, we are very close to resuming work on the most ambitious restoration project to date, halted by Covid-19. It involves the renovation of an old building in Old Havana’s heart, for a restaurant with a unique character, full of details and personality.
Finally, in Sweden, we have just started the architecture and interior design of a house for a family we adore, who can’t wait to enjoy their new home.
+ We are proud to have participated in the natural stone ceiling you have in your studio. Why installing natural stone on the ceiling? What variety of stone is it?
From the very beginning, we wanted to design the studio as a showroom of our style, which would show how we work and what we are capable of. We are obsessed with playing with materials, turning them upside down and doing something different with them; making a stone ceiling fits with this game because it means giving the stone weightlessness.
It was a considerable challenge since it was an original constructive solution, and, therefore, we had to study it in detail to ensure its correct execution.
The result could not have been better. We are fascinated with the effect. It has undoubtedly become the center of attention of the space.
The stone is Pacific Grey.
+ What attracted your attention to Stonesize, and why did you choose this solution for your jewel-ceiling-?
It seemed to us that it would be a tremendously exciting solution because of the possibilities it offers and that, at all costs, we wanted to take advantage of it and use it in our projects. It allows us to arrange natural stone cladding in a light and mobile way, so conceptually it makes a lot of sense.
From our perspective, the possibility of being able to “install and uninstall” the stone (instead of tamping it down) gives it a new meaning. It’s like a work of art because, in the future, you can “take it with you” and reposition it in another location, and it makes perfect sense investing money in unique pieces.
+ Have you clad more parts of the studio with natural stone?
Yes, we have a wall with the same Pacific Grey stone using the Stonesize system, in this case, laid vertically.
The bathroom is also wholly clad with a precious Guatemala Green marble (traditionally laid on floors and walls), and the washbasin is custom-made with the same material.
+ Why do you use natural stone in your work?
Something significant in our projects, both in architecture and interior design, is the connection with nature. Using warm materials is fundamental, not only from an aesthetic point of view but also from a sensory point of view, that is, materials that transmit beauty to the eye and the touch. When we talk about stone materials, this is something that only natural stone can give.
+ Finally, why do you trust TINO Natural Stone?
It is a combination of things: professionalism, efficiency, technical support, and advice, etc. Although, if we have to highlight one, we are left with the concern to innovate and offer original and different products and solutions in the market, something fundamental in our sector, which made us feel very identified with the brand. And that is why we believe that the INHABIT-TINO tandem has a long life ahead of it.