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Publication Date: 2014-10-15

Mediterranean Retreat

A centuries-old home in Spain was built to last. After a redecoration, it is sure to endure for a new generation.

For Eduardo Arruga, a Barcelona-born, -bred, and -based designer, the Mediterranean climate and light are constant inspirations. With evident enthusiasm, he explains how Catalonia, that region of northeastern Spain along the temperate Costa Brava, has affected his design aesthetic, especially in his work on a weekend retreat in the picturesque town of Púbol.

For a man as experienced in design as Arruga, the region’s ancient domestic history provides much to reference. The legacy there, in the province of Girona, which abuts France, begins with the ancient Romans and Arabs and their understanding of domes and vaults and stretches to the sinuous curves of art nouveau as exemplified by native-son architect Antonio Gaudí. It continues with the industrial materials and rectilinearity of modernism epitomized by Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona Pavilion from 1929.

Arruga’s embrace of both the venerable and the new is eloquently illustrated by this home. “My design is about a balanced mix of antique and contemporary styles,” he says. His contemporary ethos was honed when he worked as an art director and set designer for music videos and on ad campaigns for corporate leviathans such as BMW and Coca-Cola. In 1990, he opened his antiques shop, Lucca, in Barcelona. Ten years later, responding to client demand, he turned full time to interior design. The village of Púbol is best known for its castle, where the surrealist Salvador Dalí installed his beloved wife, Gala, at the end of her life, but where the mustachioed artist was allowed to visit only by her invitation. Fortunately, Arruga’s clients for this home, a couple from Barcelona, enjoy a more conventionally felicitous union; rather than seeking time and space apart, they desire togetherness, along with their children, away from the pressures of their professional lives in Barcelona. Just behind the town church, the three-story wood and stone structure dates from the eighteenth century and, despite its architectural presence, is relatively compact, a little more than 1,300 square feet.

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