I’m always keen on discovering local talent in the field of design, especially interior design. Last year, I first discovered Fernanda Bourlot and her company,
Holly: Hi Fernanda. It’s a pleasure to have a chance to interview you for decor8 readers. Can you please tell us about your company, Simplemente Blanco?
Fernanda: Simplemente Blanco launched in April 2004 as a Boston-based design studio specializing in objects and textiles, and I offer interior design services, too. I really love to create new with an unusual twist that can stand alone as unique. As we say in our mission statement, we believe in balance and symmetry, pureness and calmness, the look is very simple. What I basically want to create are spaces that transmit peace and serenity (that?s what I always have been looking for). White is the base, then other accents and colors are added.
Holly: How did your business name come about? (Simply White)
Fernanda: Very easily… One day I was thinking about the words that would describe what I like and where I live and that?s when Simply White appeared. It is the perfect description — almost everything white and very very simple.
Holly: Where did you study?
Fernanda: My interior design degree is from Bs. As. Then when I came to the states I did postgraduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition, I’ve taken art and figure drawing courses for ages, as well as sewing, embroidering, knitting, china painting and so many other courses that I can?t even remember.
Holly: Sounds like you love to learn and explore. Tell us about your line…
Fernanda: My line is very consistent, everything stems from something else, everything matches because we create with that in mind. It’s the reason why I started to design the objects and then the textiles. Working as a designer in Buenos Aires I had a difficult time finding unique objects to incorporate into my design, so I started designing and decorating objects for my clients myself. Then, one client was visiting another client of mine and asked me to design something special for her too, which I did, which resulted in ten more clients asking for the same. It was then that I decided to start designing objects for the home and selling them directly to my clients. Later on, a magazine found out and asked me to design special things to sell through a section they had created and that brought me to do this more consistently by opening a showroom.
Holly: What is your design philosophy?
Fernanda: To create spaces that possess only what you need and nothing more, making people feel calm, comfortable, and relaxed and also feeling that their home is an oasis. When they arrive home, they are entering their private unique oasis. My philosophy is more than just that though, I created a name for it in fact, “Holistic Decoration”. I”ve been promoting this approach for more than ten years now. I beleive that decorating a space goes beyond the obvious, I decorate with shapes and colors but also with aromas, textures and music. My holistic decoration philosophy is design for all the senses. I have been researching a lot about this and I haven?t found anyone yet who approaches design this way. Believing I am the first in proposing this approach, I named my philosophy “Holistic Decoration” because it approaches design in a more complete way, for all the senses. I have seen people decorating for two senses, eye and ear or eye and aromas, and just a few people decorating with three elements targeting three senses eye, ear, aromas, but my approach is more complete. The goal is to decorate for the eye, ear, nose, tact and why not taste. The goal is that the senses peacefully enjoy design without over saturating them. I could expand more if anyone is interested, you can contact me directly.
Holly: Very interesting, I understand your approach. Design should go beyond a decent floor plan and quality furnishings. In my opinion, a space isn’t complete without a certain mood introduced through lighting, music, and something fresh baked is in the air. Next, let’s talk a little about how and where your products are made. Can you tell us?
Fernanda: My products are made by hand here in the States, with noble materials, we try to be environmentally friendly more and more. We are learning a lot about how to become more eco-friendly, and I becoming more and more conscious about it (we still have a long way to walk in terms of be able to say: we are eco-friendly).
Holly: Can you tell us about your design process?
Fernanda: Yes, of course. The way I work is: I usually make the very first sample and we try it. From there, we either improve it or discard it and then goes straight to the seamstress, embroiders, or carpenter, depending on how is qualified enough to create what we want. They reproduce it as many times as we need, but always in small batches because we don?t make huge quanities, we operate more like artisians. I?m a perfectionist, if something is not well done I can create it over and over again a hundred times.
Holly: Tell us about a project that you’ve worked on that you are most proud of…
Fernanda: One of the things that I?m proud of is the Bride?s Room that I designed for the Junior League of Boston Show House 2004, it was my ?opening act? in this country and many received me with open arms. I?m still receiving compliments for that room. I think the key is that my design and objects are different from what people in New England are accustomed to seeing.
Holly: What are your most popular items?
Fernanda: The lamps are one of the most popular things, especially the Cloud lamp, which is the one that I designed for the restaurant at the Junior League Show house 2005 and offered in New York for the first time in February 2006.
Holly: How does your work reflect your personality?
Fernanda: My work is who I am, how I live, how I dress… I think that it is my way to express myself, I have been always shy and probably I have chosen this as my way of expressing feelings.
Holly: Can you tell us about your showroom?
Fernanda: Sure. I have a showroom in the South End in a wonderful building, it’s a loft (not very big), white (of course) with original hardwood floors. This is where I not only display my line, but it’s also a place where I meet with clients, the media, and customers. I love it.
Holly: Being based in Boston’s South End, a community so dedicated to supporting artists and designers, what do you personally enjoy about being based there?
Fernanda: Oh yes, the South End is great, a good community of artist and designers, everyone knows and supports eachother. I have so many friends that also own stores and design firms and many good restaurants and great art galleries (it’s like a Bostonian Soho). I love it!
Holly: Can you point to any designers, friends, or mentors who have helped you or shaped your ideas along the way?
Fernanda: I like Terence Conran, he is great, an incredible designer. He knows how to reinvent himself and everything he does. He owns so many restaurants in England and France and he also has books and a magazine… Others that I love are: Catherine Memmi and Jacqueline Morabito from France, both are very minimal and their designs very simple. I also like Edith Mezard (also from France) and Anouska Hempel from England (I love her hotel). I really admire John Pawson, and then there’s Tadao Ando from Japan (I have a long list as you can see)… I think all of them have the same aesthetic. Calvin Klein is my favorite in terms on clothing. Then, I’ve had help along the way by my mentors in Argentina, Isabelle Firmin Didot and Luisa Miguens.
Holly: That’s a great list. Where do you find inspiration? Other artists? Places?
Fernanda: I think everything can inspire me, a drop on a leaf after the rain, or a orange tree full of blossoms, a museum (I love modern museums), traveling opens my mind, a song, a situation… Seeing the world in a different light sometimes, going deeper than the surface, I like to to see how things are constructed or learn about their roots.
Holly: In addition to inspiration, I find that motivation is very important. Why motivates you to keep going?
Fernanda: Everyday is a new day and a new challenge; I can?t live without future goals and if they are difficult, that’s much more interesting. Once I achieve the target, I set up another one more challenging than the first. It is inspiring to leap.
Holly: What’s next for Simplemente Blanco?
Fernanda: Make this company grow up! Put it in a good place in this industry, try to reach new markets in the States and Europe.
Holly: That’s great! I can see your line even reaching the shores of Japan, especially with your design philosophy and the neutrals that you work with. Now for a twist, a few personal questions to wrap things up. Describe the perfect Saturday… What would you do?
Fernanda: Summertime spent in Newport, Rhode Island reading design magazines at the beach and having lunch at the Castle Hill Inn (I wait the whole year for these moments).
Holly: What are some of your favorite magazines and blogs?
Fernanda: Wallpaper, Elle Decoration (France and Japan), Boston Magazine, I like the Australian Version of Vogue, Maison Madame Figaro, Cote Sud, Cote Ouest, Maison Francaise, and about blogs, I don?t have too much time, but I read decor8 every morning very early (like 6 am) and that?s when a catch up with your posts from the previous day.
Holly: Let’s talk about the good life. If money were no obstacle, where would you live and why?
Fernanda: Santorini or any of the Greek Islands (at the beach of course all year round) other great alternatives would be Costa Azul or San Sebastian in Spain. I like Marbella too. (always beach + sun + Mediterranean sea).
Holly: That sounds wonderful, now for my final question… What are the 10 things that you simply can’t live without?
Fernanda: Sun! Beach! And of course chocolate, a glass of water by my side (I have glasses everywhere at home), my sketching book, an art pen, white cut flowers, (I go to the flower market every Thursday to get fresh flowers), the smell of honeysuckle and cut grass, my brother?s paella, Martin?s barbecue, my mom?s ravioli, Christmas in Argentina, all the good things that my grandma left inside me before she passed away, a picture of my guardian angel (who is always protecting me)… Well that was more than 10! Sorry!
Thank you Fernanda for meeting up with us here at decor8.
If you plan to visit Boston, don’t miss the Simplemente Blanco showroom located in the South End at 46 Waltham Street, Loft #203. Please call in advance to schedule an appointment with Fernanda at 617 734 3669.
(images copyright simplemente blanco 2006)