Astet, founded by Óscar Engroba and Ala Zreigat is a multidisciplinary design studio located in Barcelona. It unites architecture, interior design, industrial design and branding to create spaces and products that are honest and true to the studio’s values. The essence of Astet’s work is found in balance, between the organic and technical, simple and rich.
Tell us a little bit about the interior design concept of the hotel.
Óscar: Designing this hotel was a fun challenge for us on so many levels. As you know, the weather can be great and sunny. But there are a few months where it’s windy and rainy and gloomy. So the number one goal was that the common spaces and rooms had to function in the summer, but they also needed to be cozy during the winter time.
And how did you solve this challenge?
Óscar: By proposing a dialogue between cold and warm materials. You see a duality between warm wood and leather and velvet and fabrics, carpets. But then also you see a lot of noble materials like stone and marble and colors that remind you of the context of the surroundings. For example, the blues, the greens, the color of sand when it’s wet, and when it’s dry. So, our color and materials palette were inspired by nature and the location. Yet we didn’t want to be too literal and use Portuguese tiles because I think that’s the first thing that everyone associates with Portugal. We wanted to achieve a more sophisticated twist to what Portuguese materials and interiors and architecture looks like. With the result that anyone coming from anywhere would feel happy and relaxed and a sense of belonging. So, this was obviously very important for us as well.
How did the preexisting farmhouse affect the design process?
Óscar: So the preexisting building on the property was a relatively new structure but pretty dated as far as the architecture and design elements were concerned. Despite it being relatively new we were not allowed to alter the exterior of the building. There were basically no common spaces so we had to play a bit with the configuration. We opened up the entrance and achieved a more monumental lobby experience not only because of the improved space but primarily because of the views. When you enter, all you see is the ocean so we wanted to focus on that as the only important thing that guests see when they enter the hotel. we love working with natural materials. So, you see a lot of natural oak wood, natural fibers, marble. We avoid to work with any material that is an imitation of a material or that is a fake. Because we feel that the honesty of the brand and the honesty of the offer – whether it’s the restaurant, bar, lobby, or rooms – should be reflected by the honesty of the materials.
What was the design proposal for the rooms?
Óscar: Visually the goal was to open the room as much as possible and not have typical boxy partitions where you have the bathroom closed up. To achieve this look we added a complete glass partition between the shower and the room that can be closed with a wood and whicker panel so guests can still maintain their privacy. The actual door of the room is clouded by a full-size mirror. So, wherever you are, you always have a view, whether you’re in the bathroom, whether you’re looking at the door from the room or whether you’re looking outside.
What was your design process around the restaurant?
Óscar: Yes, so the initial proposal for the restaurant was to have a refined and elevated gastronomical experience. But to be honest, when we proposed the idea for the restaurant, the gastronomic offer wasn’t completely defined. We knew, however, that we needed to find a balance between a casual space that appeals to hotel guests and local community alike. So the indoors has a fantastic show kitchen where there’s the theatrics preparing the food. Creating that focal point invites guests to have an audio-visual experience that goes beyond just enjoying tasty food. It’s entertaining and always interesting for people to whiteness. The space also has a seamless connection to a deck with an outdoor seating area all open with spectacular views of the ocean. Again, we needed to make this space multi-functional, so it works year-round. The terrace is semi-covered so in cooler temperatures, the outdoor space can be completely enclosed. It becomes almost an indoor space but is protected from the wind. Aethos is all about wellbeing – mental health, body health, general health. So, another key element and fun part of the F&B offering to design was a juice bar.
You made your name designing restaurants and won Best Restaurant design worldwide by Restaurant & Bar Design Awards for Lena in Marbella. How did it feel to expand your expertise with this project?
Óscar: Aethos Ericeira, which initially was called Surf House, was our first project as a studio and therefore very special because Jeff and Benjamin totally trusted us and gave us a leap of faith. The teams that worked on this endeavor were incredible, from the owners to the construction company suppliers and architects. We’re proud of the result and look forward to future projects that we have on the horizon with you.