Blurring the Clean Lines of Modernism

Issue 08-07-17   |   Reviewer:   Bob Cohen, MBA


In 2004, Spain was in the middle of a building boom. There was no question that the best place to be for an aspiring architect was to be where opportunities abounded. But Fran Silvestre decided to choose a different path and never looked back. Rather than endure the obstacles and frustrations associated with big building projects, Silvestre wanted the chance to learn on the job by building small houses. Sure enough, within ten years the Spanish building industry collapsed while Silvestre’s business soared thanks to his highly regarded designs and partnership with interior designer Andrés Alfaro Hofmann.

Silvestre and Alfaro Hofmann have pioneered a holistic approach to architecture, unifying everything from the roof line to the door handles to create an almost perfect whole. The concept of an architect and interior designer working exclusively together is uncommon in Europe, but the dynamic that Silvestre has created with Hoffman over the years, or “shared creativity” as he puts it, keeps them working cooperatively together so that they “never fight, only talk.”

Silvestre and his team are at the forefront of a phenomenon that’s slowly gaining traction around the world: the integration of interior and exterior design. The concept itself is as old as architecture, as Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio often designed the interiors of his houses, and more recently, Frank Lloyd Wright crafted the complete insides of his homes down to the tables and chairs. Designers who want to bring that ultramodern look into living spaces have now embraced this holistic approach. Silvestre’s practice is experiencing explosive growth. It took more than 10 years to build his first 20 houses; now his studio is building, or in the late stages of designing, 24 more. The company is also developing furniture to be sold wholesale and has begun to expand the scale and scope of its projects.

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