I love stumbling across people who share my passion for design and craftsmanship, and Alexandra Vasquez is one such person. Based in Berlin, she’s the brains behind newly launched website Corotos Market, which stocks a beautifully curated range of unique home accessories from around the globe.
Alexandra’s aim is to help people create a home which reflects their life and personality by offering investment pieces that will last for decades to come – some sleekly minimal, others rustic and time-worn. I chatted to her about the story behind Corotos Market and where she finds her inspiration…
Please can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
“I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and moved to Boston to study International Relations at university. I met my husband during my last year of college and after graduation we moved to London, before making our way to Munich (where he grew up) and finally to Berlin.
“When I was younger I could never have imagined that I’d end up in the world of interior design, but as I got older and started to create a home of my own I very quickly fell in love with it. Each time I found the perfect piece – and the perfect place for it – it felt like a small victory. When my husband was presented with an opportunity in Berlin, I decided to use the move as a spur to go after something that I’m truly passionate about, and that’s how Corotos Market came to be.”
What was the inspiration behind it?
“When putting together my apartment, I began to realise that the interiors market was becoming very standardised, and that ‘one size fits all’ seemed to be the mantra. Like most people, I went to the big home-furnishing stores and bought all the basics: a bed, a dining table, seating. When they were delivered, however, my home lacked personality and finesse – I liked what I had chosen but, on its own, it said nothing about me or my life. But I soon discovered that the smallest of details can make all the difference: it doesn’t matter if you have the same sofa as everyone else because you can make a cookie-cutter piece of furniture your own by adding beautiful cushions or by draping a carefully chosen blanket over it. I want to inspire people to create a home that truly represents their own tastes and stories, and I believe the products we stock enable this.”
How would you describe your own interiors style, and how is it influenced by travel?
“That’s a tough question! I wouldn’t say I stick to any particular style, but there’s definitely a strong presence of both rustic and mid-century modern in my home. For instance, I have a very large wooden farmer’s table that dates back to the late 19th century, and I’ve paired it with vintage ‘Tulip’ chairs by Knoll. I really like to mix the old with the new.
“As for travel, it’s given me the opportunity to understand different styles and cultures, and to be more adventurous when selecting pieces for my home. Every time I’ve returned from a trip I’ve brought something back with me: wooden bowls from Bangkok, blankets from Turkey, bronze trays from Dubai. Together, they represent my personality and the journeys I’ve taken.”
Do you have a favourite destination for design inspiration?
“The world is full of beautiful places, but I must say that I often look to Belgium for inspiration. I’ve met several woodworkers there who make unbelievable pieces; they also have the ability to repair and restore antiques while keeping their charm intact. And Belgium is home to incredible interior designers such as Axel Vervoordt, whose work I find breathtaking.”
What do you look for when sourcing products?
“First and foremost, I look for things that I would buy for myself. That’s my golden rule. If I can imagine something in my own home that means I truly love it; if I can live without it, then it doesn’t make the cut.
“Next comes quality. Many things look beautiful from a distance but don’t measure up when you come closer. I like to see each product in person so that I can feel the material and examine the craftsmanship before making a decision. There are lots of imitations out there, and finding authentic pieces is no easy task.
“Lastly, I try to find products that are made from natural elements rather than mass-produced materials such as plastic. When artists choose a natural material to work with – whether it’s wood, clay or any other – they really need to understand its characteristics in order to highlight its beauty. I take great comfort in knowing that the designers I work with are passionate about their craft and that I can trust them to deliver a top-quality product every time.”
Do you have any personal favourites from your range?
“I always say that the hardest part of my job is letting go of the products! I’d keep all of them if my home were large enough, so it’s really difficult to select just a few. That said, one that stands out for me is the Russian oak cutting board – it’s truly a piece of art. The designer, Denis Milovanov, creates the pattern with a chainsaw and then boils the board in oil to give it its rich, dark colour. I keep one of these in my kitchen as a decorative piece. I also love the 19th-century elmwood stools, which I use as side tables. Few products have as much character.”
Do you have any tips to share on how to add personality to a home?
“Be patient and collect pieces. People tend to furnish a home very quickly, sometimes only heading to one or two stores to buy everything. Even though this can be tempting because you’ll have a ‘completed’ home in no time, it can make your space feel like a showroom. I’ve actually been living in my apartment for a year and a half and I still have a cable coming out of my ceiling! Some people have asked if I’ve only recently moved in, but the truth is I simply haven’t found the right lamp yet. I don’t think my home (or anybody else’s) will ever truly be ‘finished’ – our experiences shape our lives and tastes, and the spaces we live in evolve with us.
“I also must encourage people to be bold. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles and colours. Too much of the same can get old very quickly.”
What’s next for Corotos Market? Do you have any new products on the horizon?
“It’s an exciting time for us, as the response we’ve received since launching has been amazing. Our main focus right now is to get across our message that it’s all in the details. We’re also heading to Morocco and California in the next month to source new products, so we expect to have more beautiful items very soon.”
Photography by Corotos Market