Inside the head of a Sweet Inn designer
Rui Garcia been dabbing his feet in interior design for 16 years
(and he’s still going strong!)
Beyond his interior design-duties in Lisbon, Rui also overseeing the designs of the Sweet Inn apartments in Rome. Find out about his love for Lisbon and what actually goes into creating that special something in a Sweet Inn apartment.
Could you tell us a little about the process of creating a unique design for each and every apartment?
The design process is a universal thing, or at least it should be. It really doesn’t matter if you are doing a project for an apartment, a restaurant or a hotel. The process must start with some deep research on your target and the budget. Everything starts with a good sustainable concept, and after that all your choices come naturally. So with me every apartment starts with the same approach, then afterwards I just adapt the style and finishings to the concept I’m going for. Obviously the designer must have a very good understanding of aesthetics and a deep knowledge on brands and trends. They must be acquainted with the city the project is in, and know the right places to purchase every piece they need, in order to make the final product as original and authentic as it can be.
Is there a difference in designing for each Sweet Inn City?
There is no difference. But I guess it depends on the designer. My professional experience has given me the opportunity to work in several countries and locations and for me is just a matter of understanding the local culture and the local feeling. It’s easier for the designer if he knows the city well. An open mind is paramount, that and connecting to the local people. Observing, understanding, becoming a part of the city are the key concepts to developing Sweet Inn designs.
You yourself live in Lisbon. Which is your favourite neighbourhood in the city and what do you love about it?
I really like Alfama because it has that typical Lisbon vibe and look – it’s where you can get a sense of the real Lisbon life. I love the light, the smell, the sound of people’s voices and the little narrow streets. Seeing the architecture there is a must. There’s some great old buildings, ancient, stone staircases and of course the sound of music coming in from the alleyways. There is nothing better than tucking into some Portuguese food and wine in a nice, cozy little restaurant. It’ a place where you can live and breathe Lisbon culture. Being here, it’s very easy to understand why the Portuguese are one of the most ancient cultures in Europe.
Could you give us an insider’s tip for a favorite spot?
A little town called Sintra. It’s located in the mountains surrounding Lisbon. There’s a castle, stunning old buildings and a wonderful landscape filled with ancient trees. It’s a great place to go for the weekend or just for a weekend lunch. For nightlife, I suggest Pink Street in Cais do Sodré, where you’ll find many great bars and nightclubs, like the Pensao do Amor (try and catch the Burlesque Show) or the Jamaica if you like dancing. But the real deal is to just to walk along the streets and enjoy the buzz. Tagide in Chiado is the go-to place for dinner. There’s great food and above all, a terrace with an amazing view over Lisbon.
Last but not least, which is your favourite Sweet Inn apartment?
The Saudade apartment in Lisbon is my favorite, because of its fantastic location and because of the design we developed there. It’s a real Lisbon apartment.