June 2016

With its booming creative energy and rich cultural diversity, Buenos Aires is the perfect location for Alejandro Sticotti. 

Living and working in Buenos Aires for over 25 years, the architect and designer discusses with great insight the changing environment of the city, his local sources of inspiration and top picks for a visit to one of the most exciting destinations in South America.

You were based in Palermo before moving to Olivos, in what ways has the change of atmosphere affected you as an architect and designer?

My studio and shop are located in Palermo and I live in Olivos, both are beautiful locations and work for the different aspects of my life. Palermo is a growing neighbourhood filled with shops and exciting brands; it’s almost like a big shopping mall surrounded by eight blocks. I feel I’m able to work best in this environment. Olivos on the other hand, is much quieter and greener. It’s the perfect place to live and step away from work.

How does the environment of Buenos Aires and your local neighbourhood of Olivos influence your work?

I love working in my garden, my home is really a garden with an accompanying house. I actually bought the garden as a plot of land and spent the next year and a half building my home with my partner, Mercedes.

We know Argentina suffered a depression during the late 20th and early 21st century, how did the country’s process of rebuilding shape the design world of Buenos Aires that exists today?

I believe that out of any crisis one can always find and make an opportunity. It’s about seeing beyond the current situation and looking ahead.

What are your favourite materials to work with? Is there a particular place you source them?

Wood. I like the transition between indoor and outdoor living and I feel wood is the best way to express this. My home is flooded with wood; on the walls, the floor and the furniture.

Who or what inspires you?

Danish furniture and Japanese tools for living. Both share a deep attention to craftsmanship. The simplicity and clean lines of Danish furniture allows one to focus on the organic beauty of its surroundings and there is such skill and virtue in the work of Japanese woodcrafters. The materials have a life of their own, they work in harmony with their environment.

How would you describe the creative atmosphere of Buenos Aires to someone who has never been?

To me, Buenos Aires is the most exiting city in South America; there is so much to explore and visit. The city has much to offer from theatres and shows to food and design; it is culturally rich and the streets carry great history. You’ll find people from all over here and the city is constantly changing and growing as it continues to re-build and find itself. It’s inspiring to live in such a dynamic environment with such a strong sense of creative energy. There really is a reason Buenos Aires is the place to visit now.

How is the design world in Buenos Aires changing?

For a long time we were looking out to different designers all over the world, but since Buenos Aires’s economic crisis of 2001, we are now looking inward and at what we have around us to create new pieces. There was a real experimental drive in the city that emerged during a time of suffering. This passion and resilient spirit translated into creativity. We began to take advantage of the beautiful, natural materials right at our fingertips. The creative drive transformed our city into a major design destination. This is when the rest of the world began to take notice.

What are some unexpected places to visit in Buenos Aires?

Recoleta Cemetery. It’s huge! Almost like a little city. There is so much to explore from history to architecture. Some of the most important figures from Argentine history are buried there in the most elaborate tombs. The cemetery is rich with a variety of styles like Art Deco and Art Nouveau to name a few. Spending time there is a very tranquil experience. You can see the beautiful marble and black stone tomb of the Paz Family. They owned the Palacio Paz and the newspaper La Prensa.

Best place for a last minute dinner or a cold beer?

Las Pizzarras Bistro. Go there for delicious food with a stylish yet laid-back atmosphere.

Best piece of advice for an out-of-towner?

Explore as much as possible! Go around and visit a lot of places.

All photography © Alejandro Sticotti