In the introduction of the book that brings together some of Lorenzo Castillo’s best works (Ediciones el Viso, 2017), the specialist Michael Boodro emphasized the transatlantic quality of the Madrid decorator: “The predilection for the ingenious and the extravagant, its exuberance and humor and Lorenzo Castillo’s cheerful mixture of ostentation and moderation have always led me to consider him the most American of designers Europeans. “A statement that Boodro himself clarified by adding that, deep down, you cannot put barriers to the countryside or nationalities who are fed by all kinds of styles and cultures.
To Castillo the phrase provokes half a smile: “I think Boodro was referring to the use of color and the transgression of the norms of the history of decorative arts. The Anglo-Saxon world is always a reference and the americans created the modern decoration. There they are very accustomed to the figure of the decorator. Moreover, unlike in Europe, they flee containment, and I am not content. “
Castillo has just launched his new collection of fabrics, distributed by Gastón and Daniela, and in which the essence of his style is concentrated. After seven years together with the textile firm and through his own brand, he has worked a series of prints on silk, cotton, linen, wool or velvet of all kinds. Highly decorated fabrics that, together with art and antiques, are its main hallmark. “We do a search for old documents and update them,” he explains. “They inspire me from the archives of Gastón and Daniela himself to remnants that I find traveling in antique dealers. For example, we have found a 16th-century Florentine damask that we have turned into something much more fresh and modern.”
Although many define his aesthetic as eccentric, he clarifies: “I mix a lot but Not everything can be mixed. Neither all fabrics nor all prints. I like to be very rigorous with the styles and, for example, a Chinese print cannot go with an Indian one. There has to be coherence and harmony, and that is given to you by rigor in language. “
Trained in Art History and Decorative Arts, Castillo began his career as an antiquarian when, at the end of his studies, he opened his first store in the Las Letras neighborhood of Madrid. From there it went to design and decoration. He usually cites the influence of his godmother, Borita Casas (the creator of the character Antoñita la Fantástica), that of his mother (“he had a gift for decoration and experimented in our family home, throwing and lifting partitions or changing the colors of the room “) and that of his grandmother Pepa, with whom he went to the Madrid Trail in search of antiques.
A ritual, that of the Trail, that keeps alive. “I am no longer an antiquarian, I am not traveling to buy. That was my job before and now it would be impossible for me to do it. But it is a world that I enjoy and I maintain a network of antique dealers that offer me pieces every day. Yes I open my WhatsApp you will see a few of this morning.In Paris I like to escape to Las Pulgas, but the Trail is still the treasure and the best kept secret in Madrid, which has also become a very important center for selling antiques. On the Trail you can find an 18th-century portrait with impressive quality or a Talavera pottery worthy of a museum. After Las Pulgas, it is the best market in Europe, although for me it is much more authentic than Las Pulgas, which has many more fakes. I have my landlines on the Trail and I enjoy it very much. “Among his latest acquisitions is a pair of Chinese lacquered mirrors that he wants to use in the bathroom of a house on Alfonso XII Street or a marine jewel screen of the Forties arrived from San Juan de Luz.
He assures that his relationship with the architects has been unequal (“I have lived true declarations of war, but in other very important works, such as in the Villagonzalo Palace in Madrid, the collaboration has been perfect”) and that Spain suffers from the lack of interest in the decorative arts that other countries do have. “Here is something very minority,” he says. “My training has made me have a different approach to projects. I work thinking about all the details. For me the principle is what for many is just the end. I even think about the ashtrays of the tables. The truth is that what kind of client asks us is that, to arrive at the house with the last engraving post. That, when they premiere it, it seems already lived. “For Castillo, the neo-baroque and the high decoration have been consolidated for a long time against minimalism (” how old! “), vintage or the neoindustrial. His house-studio, set up 12 years ago in the center of Madrid, has been his main letter of introduction and a magnet for an international clientele.
But Madrid is not its only space of its own. To his house in Ribadesella, in Asturias, and his refuge in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a house is now added in Mahón (Menorca). “I am in love with all my houses, but I try not to look like each other.” In his opinion, the biggest mistake in decoration is to turn a house into a symbol of social status. “The use of power icons to show who you are and where you are is repeated throughout history. But there are people who know how to do it. Marella Agnelli’s houses had everything money can give you and yet they were not the typical representation from the house of the powerful. But I know that like Marella Agnelli there are very few. I imagine that the big mistake is not knowing each other and living in houses that don’t reflect you. In the end what matters, in my opinion, is comfort and beauty. “
His house-studio, open to workshops, dinners and social gatherings, condenses his taste but also the relationship with his city. “I am very cat,” he says of a Madrid that seems doomed to aesthetic disasters. “Madrid would not change for anything in the world but it is an aesthetically abandoned city and the fault lies with the politicians, everyone, who has always given them the same. They have not protected a single interior, they have allowed authentic jewels to be thrown. They have made barbarities There has never been a responsible defense of the heritage of the city They have never been advised to protect the wonders that were in buildings and commercial premises They protect the facades and stairs, sometimes without any historical value, but allow emptying or destroying entire buildings that should never be touched, from the Fisac Pagoda to the stables of Villagonzalo, unfortunately there are dozens of examples, a disinterest that has united all politicians, right and left. In this city we have got used to the dislikes“.