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When I first heard I would be interviewing designer Delia Tedin, I thought I would focus on her immense body of work. For the past 35 years, Delia has worked across South America, the United States and Europe. We decided to meet at her home, an unassuming white facade on a two block, cobble stone street in the Barrio Norte area of Buenos Aires. When the front door opened and I took a look around, I knew I had to make this interview a house tour as well. Her home was an amazing display of modern architecture and style as well as classical Argentine detailing.
35 years ago Delia arrived to Paisaje Bollini and moved into a large, turn-of-the-century home, completely remodeling each and every room. As her children grew up and moved out of the house, she decided to down size, buying the lot besides her residence and building a smaller home from the ground up nearly 14 years ago. This new home, she says, is like a little village with a plaza in the middle, something her 90-year-old mother doesn't quite understand but Delia gets great pleasure out of explaining. "When it rains, I simply cross the patio with an umbrella, it's that simple," she told me.
The front part of the house consists of the kitchen, dining room and living room, each on a separate level. She wanted an exceptionally modern, streamlined look, an aesthetic that is not commonly seen in Argentina. One thing I noticed right away, however, was that for a woman in her later years (let's just say she has ten grandchildren and we will leave it at that) her home seemed to be exuding an element of fun and whimsy. When I asked her what her ‘design signature' was, she confirmed what I assumed she would answer. "I don't have a particular style, I just believe that old people should have young homes. The goal is to enjoy being yourself and to enjoy your home. "Hay que jugar un poco con la casa (You need to play a little with your home)."
The living room is a exhibition of Delia's entire life. Art, books and knick-knacks from around the world are on display in an artistic yet orderly way. This room is not like what she referred to as a "casa de catalogos (catalogue home)," where each room is exactly like the other. The furniture is both on trend and comfortable and there is certainly enough seating for her large family when they come around for visits. She told me that she loves to study design and that she has more than 2,000 design books from around the world. In addition to design, she reads and studies a little bit of everything. This, she said, is a key to her success. "Pull from many different disciplines, learn from all avenues and use what you learn," she informs me.
Zuo Atom White Leather Right Arm Facing Bench Sofa
The dining room of her home is like a human-size jewelry box. She pointed out that with the changing position of the sun, the vines reflect off the glass and enhance the feel of nature around the property. She knew the lot didn't have enough room for a proper dining room, so she chose to build one that felt like it was as big as the patio itself with a fun table and dining room chairs. Windows from the kitchen as well as from the living room open into the dining area, unifying the entire space.
When I asked Delia about the lighting in the dining room she told me that the lack of lighting was an obvious choice. "Just moon light, indirect light from the living room and a few candles is all I wanted," she said. She boldly told me that lighting was one of the things she does best. Heeding advice her mother always used to give her, Delia utilizes lighting to work in conjunction with your face. She said, “You should never be able to tell if a hair has fallen out of place.” Delia favors floor lamps with shades for for the diffused, warm light that they give off and told me that she never uses ceiling lighting. Wall light fixtures are also preferable versus overhead lighting. "My rule is to light from below. Light coming directly from above has weight and heat that can feel oppressive and draws your eye down. You always want the viewers eyes and perspective to be out and up; think in meters cubed not simply meters squared."
The kitchen is actually larger than most kitchens you would see in Argentina, stocked to the brim with collections of mismatched antique place settings. Delia told me that Argentine design is eclectic due to the varying origins of the immigrant culture as well as the accessibility to design online. In the same breath, she stops me and says, "except for tango, that one is ours alone!"
Set of 2 Zuo Wire Chrome Finish Bar Chairs
Across the bridge that is suspended above a decades old fish pond was an old barn that Delia turned in to her bedroom and office space. Here you get the feel of typical Argentine construction with gorgeous ironwork doors. The beautiful pitched roof adds a dramatic feeling to this eclectic space and having painted it a bold shade of red, it is an homage to the previous life of this space.
Delia left me with some brilliant words of wisdom. She explained to me that in these economically difficult times, she believes that ingenuity will be celebrated, that the artisan will thrive and mass production will take a back seat. She told me too that one should travel and see as much as they possibly can; not so much for the information you will gain, but for the cultural differences you will experience. Delia told me to take all these experiences and "create a system, a formula," for your design process. She quoted Fellinni who once cautioned a curious film student, "It's absolutely impossible to improvise."
Images: Allison Rosenberg