Interview: Lázaro Rosa-Violán
The first hotel designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán undertook in Barcelona was Banys Orientals in 2002, a 43-room property in the city’s Born neighborhood. A painter by training and avid traveler, Rosa-Violán stumbled into interior design by chance based on his appreciation for the craft in places he had visited. When he founded Contemporain Studio that same year, it was with only four people. More than a decade later, Rosa-Violán and his team, now 52 strong, have collaborated to develop the interiors of numerous hotels in Barcelona and across the globe in addition to dozens of restaurant, bar, and retail projects.

One of these properties is Artte, a bar, bistro, concert hall, and teahouse in Barcelona where Rosa-Violán was faced with creating harmony in a multipurpose space that lacked natural light—the perfect platform for his usual aesthetic of distinctive lamps, mirrors, and glass. “We created different lighting moods depending on the zone and the hour of the day,” he explains. “We always use warm indirect LED lighting to simulate daylight.”

A few blocks from Artte in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood is Hotel Praktik Bakery. Not the first Praktik in the city (there are three others, and one in Madrid), Bakery’s entranceway does not resemble a hotel lobby but instead looks like the bustling bakery it is. Guests walk past a line of customers and glass display cases filled with baked goods to get to the reception area—a small desk tucked into a busy lounge filled with new and vintage furniture from Rosa-Violán’s warehouse.

The bijou lounge, which also serves as the breakfast room for guests, the lobby, and a café, is bordered on one side by floor-to-ceiling windows separating it from the working Baluard bakery. “The hotel’s overall design was based on the bakery, which has an industrial look,” he says. It’s a theme that continues throughout, including in the numbered breadboards that direct guests to the 74 guestrooms, painted white to resemble flour.

A 10-minute walk from Praktik Bakery is Praktik Vinoteca, which shares with Bakery a foodie concept, though the theme is wine instead of bread. Unlike Bakery, Vinoteca’s entranceway opens into an ample lobby and reception area, where the front desk doubles as a wine-tasting bar. “The idea was to surprise the client, changing schemes of normal hotel distribution,” says Rosa-Violán. “The lobby is a big living room where the client can sit in an armchair or on a comfortable sofa, whether he’s having a glass of wine, reading a magazine, or waiting for someone.”

Everywhere there are reminders of wine: framed vintage posters of vineyard advertisements adorn white walls, worn French oak barrels are repurposed as tables, fat glass jars are stuffed with hundreds of corks, and numbered plaques in the shape of bottles direct guests to their rooms, where Rosa-Violán used brushed and stained beechwood to fashion unique headboards in a diamond pattern. “The relationship between wine and wood is very close. We used hardwoods like oak and walnut combined with colors like black and bordeaux,” says Rosa-Violán.

The designer is an expert at presenting a theme. At Praktik Bakery and Vinoteca, the effect is almost theatrical—a motif with a motive and a message, repeated subtly throughout. The approach also holds true at Barcelona’s 5-Star Cotton House Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

Located in the former headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation in the center of town, “we developed a contemporary, urban hotel in a historic building,” explains Rosa-Violán of converting the 19th-century mansion into an 83-room hotel. He had many of the building’s original features restored, including touched up marquetry floors and frescoed ceilings and a newly polished sweeping marble staircase. In the hotel’s Batuar restaurant, he installed tall white cabinets and stacked them full of bolts of textured cotton fabric in creamy tones. Rooms are enhanced with elegant wallpaper portraying a cluster of asymmetrical cotton flowers. Throughout, Rosa-Violán placed a mix of modern and period piece furnishings, ensuring that the past is never far from a visitor’s mind.

And Rosa-Violán isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He’s currently working on a fresh concept for Spanish clothing brand Zara, has hotel projects underway in Panama and Mexico, is creating a new StreetXO restaurant for chef David Muñoz in London, and is crafting the interiors of yet another hotel in his home city: Soho House Barcelona.