Juan Carretero’s work can be described as classically modern and layered with all things interesting, cozy, and witty. Working in different countries and cultures has given him a deep appreciation for local craftsmanship and tradition.
What inspired this career path for you?
Since I was a child growing up in Mexico City, I was always surrounded by interesting design and was instinctively aware of it. My parents were both frustrated architects and we moved a few times into homes designed for them, so blueprints were part of my landscape since as long as I can remember. I was also a very visual / artsy kid. I used todraw a lot. My parents also had the travel bug, so from an early age I was fortunate to visit places that opened my mind to the concepts of beauty and function. I always knew I would become an architect.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
Traveling is by far the most provocative source for inspiration. When you travel, not only are you exposed to what’s different, but your mind is open and relaxed to take it all in. We have been very lucky to work in places like Spain, Colombia, Scotland, Germany, and of course, Mexico. It’s always wonderful and humbling to fully immerse oneself in the customs and traditions of each culture. I also love to look at old interior design magazines and to see what remains current. I tend to draw lessons everywhere I go and analyze how the media, nostalgia, cultural backgrounds, geography, or socioeconomic
factors can influence our taste. Being a designer involves having an acute sense of self and a willingness to question the status quo.
Tell us about your creative process.
It’s all about the space and the client. As an architect, the bones need to be right, or if not, at least you need to be able to trick your eye into thinking that they are. Designers use visual artifices to improve the proportions, the light, and the overall feel of a room. What is this room calling for is the first question, and the answer largely depends on the client’s needs and personality. I like getting to know them well before proposing anything. It’s easy to forget we design for them, not for ourselves.
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
Timeless, Collected, Tailored. Classically modern and layered with all things interesting, cozy, and witty.
These are quotes from people who have reviewed my work:
“Blending gentile form, finesse, fun. and surprise”
“Classically inspired mix of all things wonderful”
“Seriously handsome spaces, never too serious”
What’s a staple in your tool kit?
I like to keep the basics in neutral shades of grays or whites, and to contrast them with darker, richer tones while infusing interest with more texture than color. Art and a wall of books are everything. Good light, both natural and artificial, is incredibly important. Nothing good survives under the wrong light. The right kind of illumination can highlight, enhance, elevate, and transform. It can even heal. Never too much, always almost too little, like sugar.
Who do you look up to in the design world?
Albert Hadley, David Hicks, Billy Baldwin, Jean-Michel Frank, Arturo Pani, and Luis Barragán are at the top of my list. All different styles, but their legacy has left us with incredibly important lessons.
If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it
For Holiday House, which is an annual top-designer show house in New York, we imagined Tom Ford as our client for a very masculine, sexy, and tailored junior master suite in a townhouse on Sullivan Street in SoHo. We took some of his staple design concepts and used them as inspiration to recreate a room that felt very much like his luxury fashion brand. Rich and soft textures in dark colors, a mix of old and new furniture, and the most luxurious Italian linens and carpets completed the look.
Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
“All I have learned is not to tie my shoes in a revolving door.” Not sure who said, it but I think it’s a wonderful reminder that in design, we don’t really know anything. We must always continue to learn and experiment. There are no rules and no one is right or wrong. In other words, stay humble and always ask questions, even when you think you know the answers.
Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
The World of Interiors is the best magazine currently being published. Being an international publication allows them to publish the best of the best, and without having to necessarily stay devoted to a single style. It’s not about trends, it’s about interior design as an art form. It’s also not about top tens or PR. It’s beautifully put together, month after month.
What do you love about Viyet?
The world has become a more impatient place. We can get things ordered overnight and delivered to your door the next morning. Clients expect us designers to give them fast solutions. Viyet is wonderful in the sense that you can always find what you are looking for without having to go through too many options. It’s all curated, available immediately, and on point.