Interviews

Sitting With…Peter Valcarcel

Some people may focus on just one area of design, but New York City based designer and artist Peter Valcarcel does it all.  Starting out in visual merchandising, Peter soon moved to interior design, home accessory design, and fine art painting.  His work has been featured in magazines, television, and museums around the world such as The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City and The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.  His passion for design led him to create hand-made, limited edition home accessories like rugs, pillows, and painted porcelain.  Peter’s also spreading his love and knowledge of design by writing interior design related articles for Bear World Magazine.  Inspired by someone who does so much, we recently reached out to Peter and he gladly sat down to answer some questions for us

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What drew you to art and design?

I see we are starting with the hard questions; well it is hard to say, honestly. When you work in the arts and design, you just have to; there is no other way to live. I have been making things since I was little boy in one way or another, I remember creating houses and whole towns with my LEGOs and cutting paper into all kinds of shapes. I find it hard to walk away from designing no matter where I am in life, your brain just creates and it never stops. So I guess I don’t really know what drew me, I just knew I had to do it.

How does visual merchandising and window display design compare to interior design?

I think of both as art installations in a way, but with very different purposes and functions. Visual merchandising is a selling tool and so its sole purpose is to sell you something, an item, an idea, a feeling. Interior design on the other hand provokes a feeling, it embraces you and tells you the story of the person that lives there or the person that created the space. I love the fact that you are going to feel something when experiencing both types of design but at a very different level.

How would you define your aesthetic?

Minimalist, modern, geometric, classic. I am all over the place when it comes to aesthetics, and that is not a bad thing. I think we like what we like and underneath all that, you see the common thread that every designer or creator has. I do not want to make the same things all the time, I want to learn new things and realize every single crazy idea I have.

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What inspires you the most?

I am extremely visual, if I see something repeatedly and very often, that can trigger something. Colors have that effect on me, if I see a color often then I might want to try to use that color in some way. I am also inspired by most of the art forms. I think the more you expose yourself to new experiences the more inspiration you will find. I recently had a conversation with a painter and we both agreed that we are inspired by our lives, always.

What is your favorite home accessory?

Rugs, love them, they are like huge canvas where you can paint whatever you want. It is art you can walk on. Many of my rug designs are very geometric like some of my paintings and in a way; they are related to each other. I love the way a rug can also be very versatile, you can hang it, sleep on it, cover a table with it or simply walk on it barefoot.

What do you think is the most versatile color palette?

Grays for sure, from the lightest to the darkest and from the coolest to the warmest. I think many time people associate gray with sadness, they think it is institutional or boring. Gray can be elegant and aloof but it can also be casual and friendly, even happy. Gray mixes well with all colors and can highlight them. I am glad to see more and more gray now days.

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What’s your favorite period of design?

I love a good Georgian country house, I think what Nancy Lancaster, John Fowler and Sibyl Colefax did was pure magic, John Fowler once said that what he wanted to achieve with his designs was humble elegance and to me that is the best elegance there is. Creating intimacy in such large spaces can only be done with many layers of design and that is their genius, to be able to do that without going too far.

What’s your favorite space to design for?

The living room, I love rooms where people gather and have interesting conversations, fun, laughs. I think to be able to create a space where people want to stay and be comfortable is a sign of good design. You need to think about scale, space, texture and most importantly, lighting. A well lit room will make you want to stay there for a long time.

What do you think is the key to timeless design?

Not following trends of course and creating your own personal style, one that is true to you and that speaks about who you are, where have you been, that will never go out of style.

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What’s your approach to design?

For me it is all about color, whether I am designing a room or an accessory, I start with color always, which in a way at times is the most difficult part of the process, there are so many choices! Once I have a color palette done everything else comes around much faster, shapes take form and all becomes one.

Does living in New York influence your aesthetic at all?

24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this city has such great influence on everything I do, and aesthetically even more. For a creative person, New York City is the center of the universe, as a designer and artist to be able to visit museums, galleries or just to see other creative people, riding the subway is the greatest gift that no other place in the world can give you, not at least in the way New York City does.

Besides doing interior design, art, and displays, you also write about interior design for Bear World Magazine.  Is there any aspect of the design world you haven’t tackled yet?

Furniture, I have always been very interested in the vessels that receive the human form. Furniture can be so beautiful and so uncomfortable so I am sure it is going to take me a little bit of time to do that right.

The other project that I have that I have wanted to do for a long time is a TV show.  I have a channel on YouTube where I post videos about style and design, they are very short and very simple and so I want to move that to the next level.

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What’s been your favorite project so far?

Designing my first line of rugs for Alfombras Framar in Peru. They asked me to design a line of rugs for them a couple of years ago. Since I was the first designer they ever asked, I wanted to look into their more iconic designs and reinterpret those with my own style. The research process was the most interesting, and of course, to learn about rug making was fascinating, at the time of my first collection, I knew very little about how rugs are made. We are now on my third collection.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your work?

A few years ago, a client bought a painting from me through another interior designer, when I met her and asked why she bought it, she simply said, “Because I like it.” I want people to like my work, plain and simple, to enjoy it and to use it. Art and design should be accessible to everyone, not only to the ones that think can understand it but also to all that just plain like it.

Any advice for aspiring creatives (interior designers, visual merchandisers, interior design writers, etc.)?

Create something big or small every day, big ideas will come together from small ones. Moreover, have many creative friends with all kinds of creativity, talk to everyone who would listen about what you are creating. One day you will meet somebody that will want to see what you are working on or collaborate with you, and that could be your big break.

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Thank you Peter for taking the time to talk with us!  We look forward to reading more of your articles, and seeing what you’ll do next.  You can see more of Peter’s work on his website, follow him on Instagram and also check out his YouTube channel.

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