Maria-Klara Gonzalez, Barcelona. Text by Jo Walker, photos by Wai Lin Tse. Maria-Klara's Barcelona flat was a "sleeping beauty" when she and her boyfriend Roger first happened upon it three years ago while biking to his parents' house for dinner. "It had a kind of dreamlike atmosphere with different wallpapers in all the rooms," the illustrator and former architect remembers. "It had been empty for years and unfortunately the last inhabitant had been a heavy smoker and the flat was extremely stuffy. So it was a hard decision, but when we tore out all the wallpaper and painted the whole flat, the air changed completely."
Maria-Klara Gonzalez: The couple both have studios at the front of the apartment — she for her illustration business, he for his theater company. The house is "quite eclectic," Maria-Klara explains. "I studied architecture in the heydey of minimalism, but at the same time I love color, little things, and textiles. I wanted the flat to be white so it could serve as a canvas for all kinds of delightful nonsense. I owe a lot to a tradition of style in my family, starting with my great-grandfather and also the fact that I grew up in Sweden. There has always been a love for beautiful things and textiles paired with lots of imagination and do-it-yourself spirit surrounding me."
Maria-Klara Gonzalez: "This home is growing organically," she says. "There is quite a lot of coincidence, and lots of love of course, behind it. One friend gave us some of the furniture, some we found in the street, and most we bought at the Els Encants flea market. It's kind of a love story told by objects." The floor tiles are original, and typical for Barcelona. "Almost every room has a different pattern."
Maria-Klara Gonzalez: Sadly, Maria-Klara and Roger's little love story of an apartment might soon be under threat. There are plans to build "a hideous five-star hotel" out back. "Somehow mentally we're already saying goodbye to this home," says Maria-Klara. But until then life, and love and creativity, continue.
Mathieu Gallois, Redfern, Australia. Text by Louise Bannister, photos by Carine Thevenau. Having made the move to Sydney from Canberra after studying art, Mat found a like-minded group of people looking to share their warehouse space in Redfern. It was run down and lacking light, so Mat told his perspective housemates that if they chose him, he'd renovate. It sealed the deal. Over the years since, the warehouse has seen many faces and interior changes. Mat, his housemates, and a variety of guests have created an idyllic space which aims to support the burgeoning arts scene. "We created a 'tree house' where people can come and stay short term and an affordable loft space where people can stay long term," he says. "Because Sydney can be so expensive, we want to help art students who are just starting out in their careers."
Mathieu Gallois: As an artist, architect, and furniture designer, Mat is interested in living in an experimental environment where he can push the idea of being green. The tree house dome, for instance, is from a previous architectural job, the logs from nearby Centennial Park, and the crates from a "street entrepreneur" — a fancy name for a guy they paid to source stuff that had been chucked out around the neighborhood.
Mathieu Gallois: The furniture, which smatters the place, is recycled too. Like a lot of conscientious people, they've signed up to receive 100 percent green energy, but more oddly, they sometimes use their bathwater to wash their clothes.
Mathieu Gallois: "The ping-pong table is usually a desk and sometimes a ping-pong table," says Mat, pictured. The wall is made from straw. "When people come here, they do not feel intimidated, or poor or alienated by rooms full of very expensive designer goods. They don't have to marvel at a view they will never be able to afford or worry about scratching a $10,000 coffee table. Our warehouse is just a big, open space that an artist, a curator, a jeweller, IT dude and an arts school student can afford collectively to rent. There is a sense of inclusion and warmth."
Pia Jane Bijkerk, Amsterdam. Text by Kate Veling, photos by Alan Jensen. As an internationally acclaimed stylist, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in interiors, still life, and food, Pia divides her time between Sydney, Paris, and her houseboat, actually a century-old barge that has been converted. Her home is her workshop, and although the space is small, Pia finds endless inspiration there. But she can't adopt too many of the lovely things she comes across in her work. "Living in the houseboat has been the ultimate test in my ability to restrain myself," she says. "I think the rule with any small space like this is one thing in, one thing out."
Pia Jane Bijkerk: As you would expect from a stylist, Pia's home is a thing of beauty. "There are two words I like together — raw and sophisticated," she says. Furnishings feature tasteful neutrals with lots of texture, while feathers, dried flowers, and collages of things that take her fancy are taped to the wall.
Pia Jane Bijkerk: Every shelf and surface is filled with a delightful jumble of books, crockery, ornaments, vases, and amber glassware. Pia's favorite piece of furniture is the 1920s oak dining table. "I bought it at a flea market in Paris and it is the most beautiful table to sit at as well as to photograph," she says.
Pia Jane Bijkerk: The piano is another favorite. "I was playing piano one day in the summer with the windows open," she recounts. "When I finished the piece, all of the sudden there was a loud clapping. I looked out the window and a small group of people in a little dinghy had turned off their motor while cruising past so they could listen to me playing. I was astounded."