In October 1992, the inaugural edition of Casa Decor was held in an old convent on General Oráa Street in Madrid. It marked the first time that fifty design professionals had come together with the shared intention of carrying out a revolutionary project, the likes of which had never before been seen in Spain. From decorators and interior designers to architects, landscapers and artists, the participants were each assigned an empty room in the abandoned convent. They transformed its many spaces into a snaking “catwalk” of design, where the latest trends and innovations were displayed in a mould-breaking showcase, far from any conventional format.
The great success of the debut edition – and those that followed in its footsteps – lies in its formula. Casa Decor is unique and exclusive, and focused on three fundamentals. Firstly, it brings together in historic locations a large group of professionals with experience and prestige who, with great enthusiasm, wish to show their work and creativity beyond their projects for clients. It loops in brands from the homes and lifestyle sector, willing to make themselves known outside the circuit of the typical fairs. And finally, Casa Decor opens its doors to a non-professional public who are eager to discover new sensory and immersive experiences.
Patricia Bustos Studio unveils ‘Serene Touch’ installation for Bathco at Casa Decor 2022
For Casa Decor 2022, which is open for six weeks until May 22, the exhibition returns to the same neighbourhood that saw the birth of the first iteration 30 years ago, where 12 editions have cropped up since. On this occasion, the fair settles into the Goya 89 building in the commercial area of Goya Street, a 15-minute walk from the convent location of 1992. Built in 1920, the 4,600-square-metre residential building retains the original layout of the bourgeoisie homes that were common in this part of Madrid’s Salamanca district. In total, 54 spaces have been adapted across seven levels with many of the traditional elements retained. The succession of rooms, with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light, make magnificent vessels for the designers to do their best work, becoming a spectacular setting for Casa Decor’s 30th anniversary.
One of the spaces among this year’s presentation is the “hotel hall” – a new kind of hotel reception area by Patricia Bustos Studio, whose signature use of a dreamy pastel-coloured palette gives it a stand-out role. Created in partnership with bathroomware company Bathco, the conceptual interior, titled Serene Touch, is a tribute to the power of craftsmanship and how it can enhance experiences. It centres around the basin as a symbol of renewal and offers tactility through the diverse mix of materials put to use. “In a world in which we want to recover physical contact, the sink becomes a spring that returns us to space ready to use our most primitive and fundamental sense,” Patricia says, referencing what she believes is the first sense that humans develop at birth. “The one that produces the most pleasure – touch.”
Making use of shapely furniture and natural finishes such as hand-worked rattan, marble, ceramic and brick, Madrid-based Patricia explains that organic forms were employed in her studio’s design to reignite and encourage this sense of touch and exploration. “Feeling, in an era where everything is over-intellectualised, is presented to us as a way to explore what was always there,” she says. “Throughout all these years, craftsmanship has brought our body closer, through sight and touch, to experiences of beauty, respect and care. Now we flee to parallel universes without being aware of the loss of the corporeal and the impact it has on our lives, leading us to copied imaginaries, without soul, without meaning.”
Adding to the appeal of the interior, the washbasins selected from Bathco’s range are unique and handmade. “We want to celebrate the imperfection of the artisan process, its affection, its nuances, its character and identity, making each product original,” says Patricia, who echoed the hand-painted chequerboard pattern of the ceramic basins on the legs of a low table, flowing drapes and as a cornice detail that traces the ceiling of the space. Enhancing the idea of imperfection, dry-stacked pink brick walls ripple behind the wet area. The wavy surface of the walls is then mirrored in the shape of the nearby panelling, connecting the doorway and windows in a gentle tide of rattan that brings warmth and inspiration. For the sculptural counter and central light-fitting, a troop of Bathco artists built the ceramic profiles by hand and painted them in gradients of pastel tones.
Over its 30 years, Casa Decor claims to have “anticipated” the houses of the future, suggesting that its presentations of inspiring rooms, such as Patricia’s, are eventually incorporated into homes and other spaces all around the world. With a similar level of passion, the exhibition’s organisers maintain a “real and inalienable” commitment to sustainability, something which must be applied in all areas of the exhibition. Imbued with its own character and personality, each Casa Decor building becomes the flagship to transmit the values of the exhibition: diversity, creativity and innovation. The buildings represent new challenges for design professionals and brands that, in turn, surprise and delight hordes of curious visitors each year.
We want to celebrate the imperfection of the artisan process, its affection, its nuances, its character…
In Italy, Spanish design firm Masquespacio created the Bun burger restaurant in Milan and in Turin. Catch up on more hospitality architecture and design and retail design, plus subscribe to receive the Daily Architecture News e-letter direct to your inbox.