We are starting a new series where we have a featured designer of the month. We were lucky enough to start this off with the wonderful and talented Irena Barene!
1.When did you know that you wanted to choose designing as a career path?
It was 25 years ago when I made a project and coordinated the construction of my own Chalet style house. Building photos and articles about the project were in all major interior and design magazines.
2.Can you remember your first design project? Describe it for us.
It was architect and design project of a 680 square meter Provence style house in in Moscow suburbs. Light sunny French interior in Gustav III style with Boho chic elements. One of my most famous projects which was named Madlen after my French grandmother. It gained wide recognition and was published in all major design magazines.
3.What inspires you the most when designing?
The family history if one exists. If not I create a Legend, trying to combine the customers' family history with some ideal dream or common values with some unique features. Another huge inspiration for me is nature and the aura of a setting.
4. What is the most important art principle you consider when designing a space? (Balance, proportion, emphasis, variety, movement, rhythm, or harmony)
Harmony, balance, proportion are important of course but in my opinion thirst for perfection in the creative process is free of conventionalism which allows to save sensuality, soul openness and perception clarity.
The main task for me while creating the interior is to make all details start "talking" in the language of the owners, to combine different details and nuances in one unique composition. To find exact and charming intonation for every single peace, so that emotions, thoughts and feelings would interact in perfect harmony.
5. What has remained unchanged in your creative approach and what has changed the most since beginning?
All my interiors are signature ones. These are all handmade projects. And I never repeated any of my interiors in other projects.
I started with Chalet style both in architecture and design. Now I do a lot of projects in French classic style. My favorite is Louis XV regional.
All my interiors are full of warmth and cosines. I call them House with soul.
6. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and what did you learn from it?
Working on design project without contacting the customer. I had to learn the tastes and style preferences of the customer by pictures and information in social networks. A big number of interior color schemes was created, one of which was accepted and successfully implemented.
7. what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
At the moment I am working on a book called "Chateau style autograph". It's 350 pages will contain a lot of pictures and be published in three languages: Russian, English and French. This book will reflect a lot of my oeuvre in Chateau style.
I am also planning to give some lectures and classes on history of French interior styles and French furniture styles of XVII-XIX centuries.
8. What sets you apart from other designers?
For years of work I've created my own style, which is recognizable, it is my artistic images that are based on my feelings and world perception. It is my view as an artist and professional on interior and architecture, and this makes it unique, unrepeatable, and as I do hope, interesting.
I create interiors that never go out of fashion. That are equally accepted no matter if they are modern elements of house design with favorite items and souvenirs brought from other countries or they are elements of luxurious high styles with unique family and antique items.
I create collections of my signature furniture under the brand name Irena Barene collection.
9. Obviously you have looked globally for styles when designing, how have different cultures affected your designing process?
Classic style would be impossible to imagine without national styles of European countries which undoubtedly form the common understanding of traditional classic style. While being at the core, it still inspires designers to create their own unique styles, new collections of furniture and decorative pieces.
I admire its beauty and elegance, equally finding inspiration in French, English, Italian and Russian classic styles, emphasizing their unlikeness and even contradiction.
Subtle perception of decorative items handmade in elegant European stylistic is a signature mark of all my interiors. Every designer's project is first of all a memorable image of a particular geographic place on Earth with art being the main instrument in creating it. Cultural traditions of different countries are very rich and variable. Ceramic and carving, splendid antique pieces of art, mosaics and stained-glass windows, tapestry, mirrors, items from amber, glass and crystal, hand weaving and rugs, porcelain and earthenware...There is a huge choice of all these items for inspiration.
All these elements and textures can be seen in my interiors. But important thing is not only to find them but to combine, and to combine them in a way that the aura of the house would protect its inhabitants from all misfortunes and give them love, peace, comfort and a joy of coming back home.
10. What do you like to do when you aren’t designing?
Traveling - it is always source of inspiration and relaxation.
Museum, theaters, art exhibitions.
Reading, mostly historic literature.
11. What is your personal motto?
What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger
12. What drew you to our pieces/ if you could describe our style in one word, what would it be and why?
This word is Legend.
As I mentioned before I have a formula I use while working on my projects. Now it is a famous formula from Irene Barene: If the house doesn't have a Legend, it needs to be created and presented to the house. It will animate it and will protect all inhabitants, making them happy and prosperous.
French Heritage furniture, which is full of inner warmth and traditions, helps me to create my Legends, my houses, with soul.