The quiet strength of interior designer Inés Benavides
Decorating your house, your apartment can be a source of pleasure ... or not. Many people have neither the time nor the desire to spend hours choosing furniture, fabrics or the colour of the rooms' paintings. The solution is relatively simple; use the know-how of an interior designer and decorator like the talented Inés Benavides, whom I met for All-I-C. – Valérie Dana, Madrid.
Inés Benavides is a smiling, cultivated woman who may seem fragile at first glance, but talking with her I quickly realise the obvious; I have in front of me a person who knows perfectly what she wants. It's furniture with very clean lines that transmit both strength and lightness. The decoration lets the breathe into the spaces it embellishes. She works as much for private projects as for public places, which she dresses with sensitivity and elegance.
Her journey is not common - she was a mining engineer in the first part of her life - but she talks about this turnaround with so much naturalness that it seems self-evident. She transmits a real passion for a job that she lives it. Let's enter the world of Spanish decorator and interior designer Inés Benavides.
VD How did you go from being a mining engineer to decorating and architecture? And how does this past affect your present?
Inés Benavides: This is an unusual career change, but for me it was quite natural because decoration, design and architecture were my hobbies since I was very young. When my engineering job became too difficult to reconcile with my family life, I decided to abandon it and create my own design and interior design studio. My engineering training in strategy consulting was very useful because it gave me the basics to become an entrepreneur. My technical training is also for architectural projects.
Since very young, you have travelled a lot, you are multilingual: does this knowledge of different cultures have an impact on your work?
Openness to the outside world is extremely important in my work. It is while traveling that I find my inspiration. In addition, getting to know many cultures helps me with my clients, most of who are foreign.
How are your ideas born?
I am inspired by all kinds of things, some very banal like for example the leaf of a tree or a can of Coca Cola, or others, that are much more sophisticated. For me, it is very important to travel, to visit exhibitions, to go to the cinema, to read, ... In summary, having an active life allows me to be confronted with many different situations and this is important because at any moment, an idea can arise.
You create - I insist on the word "create" beautiful objects. Is this form of craftsmanship important to you?
Indeed, we create, we do not produce. In this way, our pieces are unique and timeless; the finishes are impeccable and we watch, almost obsessively, all the details. The result of this work gives its value to the object. My way of doing design is special because my pieces exist only in five copies at most. I am very demanding and it requires a lot more work, but it also gives me a lot of satisfaction.
What relationship do you have with the craftsmen?
We have been working together for a long time and they know me well. I know what I can expect from them and they understand my philosophy and requirements very well. I learned a lot from craftsmen and I owe them an important part of my practical training.
How do you choose the subjects you will work with?
Working with materials is very important for a designer and it's one of my favourite tasks. I study materials to better understand the possibilities they offer. Since moving into the world of design, I have incorporated new materials. Added to this are new techniques, particularly in the world of varnishes and paints.
Despite your taste for almost unique pieces, you have nevertheless created the CUBB object, which is distributed in series. Why did you choose to do this?
CUBB is a piece of furniture that is very versatile and useful in any space, as it can be used as a stool or as a small table. Its bright colors make it very attractive. From its inception we felt it would be a success and we thought it would be a shame to limit it in number. But this is an exceptional case in our studio.
You like to mix the pieces and an object designed by Inés Benavides posed next to a piece of furniture from say Ikea.. this does not bother you?
I love to mix and, in principle, there is no limit when it comes to marrying together furniture of different styles. It is not easy to achieve, but when it is successful, I find that a heterogeneous space is much more interesting.
What is the key to a successful decoration?
That the customer feels good at home. My job is to be at the service of my clients, and, without losing the essence of my identity, I must be able to make spaces that are 100% tailored to their size.
Curiosity is an inherent part of your job. Do you feel that you have evolved over time or do you think it is important to follow a certain line?
Over time, I feel especially that I learned a lot, and it is indeed thanks to my curiosity that I have evolved. The essence of my style has not changed but I think I am now more purist than when I started in the world of decoration. On the other hand, as far as the design is concerned, I like the pieces I created at the beginning of my career, as well as the latest creations.
There are many decorators in the world. Is public recognition important or is satisfaction of your customers enough for you?
The most rewarding is the happiness of my clients when they come home for the first time. We work on large-scale projects and when our clientele show their gratitude, it is very moving. Public recognition is certainly important to publicise my work and to have access to interesting projects, but nothing more.
Society is changing, social networks play a role perhaps too preponderant in our lives because in addition to creating, we must now learn to communicate. Is it difficult to adapt?
It is very difficult for me because it is not at all natural to me. My job is to manage decorating projects and to create objects and design. My job is not to communicate. However, I have to adapt to this new way of making oneself known.
If you could start again, would you follow the same path?
If I had to make a change in my career, I think I would study architecture instead of becoming a mining engineer. I do not regret doing it, but I would have loved studying architecture at the University.