Maria Branco: Rigor and Spontaneity

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Quick witted and curious, we go behind the scenes of Branco’s design empire

Maria Branco, trained in architecture and interior design, has her hands in many aesthetically-pleasing pots. She works on homes and commercial spaces, does botanic decor for homes, stores, and advertising campaigns, and occasionally practices interventionist architecture, teaching and working in impoverished communities around the globe. Oh, and we forgot to mention her jewelry line. All in a day’s work, right? Luckily for us and for you, though, she took some time out of her whirlwind of a life to talk to us about her world and her work.

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What two words best describe you?

Curious and restless. I’m creative because I’m constantly curious… I continuously seek new aesthetics, I love experimenting and I’m not scared of taking risks. I’m passionate about what I do so I’m never not working.

As ironic as it might seem, it’s when I’m swimming or sailing that I feel most inspired. The infinity of the sea reminds me of my endless possibilities and the horizon makes me feel brave.

What was your path to becoming a designer?

My curiosity for interior design did not blossom at an early age. I am the youngest of three siblings and both my parents were doctors, so as a consequence I was brought up in a very much science‐oriented family. Although I was born in the United States, I was mostly raised in Europe where I attended a British School in Portugal, highly reputed for their emphasis in arts. During the last years of my secondary education, I realized architecture was the perfect medium to combine artistic expression with the rigor demanded by the exact sciences. My interest in architecture stemmed during my adolescence and this growing interest prompted me to pursue architectural studies. I fell in love with interiors and their potential to make or break a routine. By virtue of my keen  interest and diligence in acquiring knowledge, I moved to New York to launch my career as an interior architect and designer.

Tell us about your work.

My work is as eclectic and bold as my lifestyle. I’m convinced decorating is like getting dressed; it’s the spontaneous yet rational act of adorning oneself according to personality and needs. Everyone’s different, so be unique, be authentic. If a room doesn’t reflect this, it’s just space. I try to apply this principle to every room I design, and to every piece of jewelry I create. I’m sensitive about my client’s necessities and likes, and I don’t believe in rules when it comes to residential projects. If I’m designing someone’s house, what truly matters is that I make it their welcoming home.

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What is your favorite part of your day?

Late evening – beginning of night. I’ve been trying to be an early bird for at least a decade, but truth be told I’m a total night owl. It’s the time of my day I feel more creative and I find a relaxed evening after a long productive day ultra-satisfactory.

Where and when are you most inspired?

Traveling is what inspires me the most. As ironic as it might seem, it’s when I’m swimming or sailing out in the ocean, surrounded by nothing but water, that I feel most inspired. The infinity of the sea reminds me of my endless possibilities and the horizon makes me feel brave.

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How has your design philosophy changed since you began your practice?

I think it’s matured a lot. I’ve learnt to see issues as opportunities and frustrations as challenges.

What, in your opinion, makes a space feel homey?

Plants. A healthy plant means a happy home.

What is one element that can draw a room together when it feels like nothing goes together?

White walls. A white room is a canvas awaiting… Add art, color, texture, nature, furniture, and magic happens! This works both ways. If a room feels cluttered and unorganized, you’ll be surprised with the neatness once you paint walls white – elements pop out and interesting details become noticeable.

Thanks so much for sharing your stories and your expertise with us, Maria! We can’t wait to see what you do in the future.
To get more hints and ideas like these from an interior designer, upload a photo of your room to the Roomhints App.

 

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