A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win copies of the first two issues of Openhouse in a giveaway run by the lovely Lou of Littlegreenshed. It’s safe to say that I fell in love with this wonderful magazine as soon as I turned the cover: published twice a year, it features people across the world who open their homes to others for various reasons, and it’s produced by two Barcelona-based creatives who do just that. With the third issue out today, I chatted to co-founder Andrew to find out more about the magazine and the inspiration behind it…
Please can you tell us a bit about Openhouse?
“It all started three years ago, when my flatmate Mari Luz and I decided to open our home in central Barcelona as a photography gallery. Since then it’s grown very organically, and along with our other flatmate, Nobu, we now hold Japanese dinners, sushi parties, talks and concerts as well as exhibitions. The idea for the magazine followed a year or so later – we’d started to hear about many other people who, like us, were opening their private spaces to the public for different activities. We wanted to create a guide to these places, with beautiful photography and interviews to show them off to the full.”
What are your backgrounds?
“I’m an interior designer and art director, and Mari Luz is a photographer. Our backgrounds have helped us a lot… Openhouse is essentially an extension of our lives.”
What inspired you to open your home to others, and what do you want visitors to experience?
“It was a decision that came naturally, out of a feeling to do it. It’s a little strange at first, but it’s such an uplifting experience and we’ve met so many interesting people. You give a lot, but you get a whole lot more in return.
“When people come for exhibitions, we hope they can experience photography in a different way. Coming into our home obliges you to talk with us and with the artist, so you get different perspectives and can go much deeper into the work. It’s similar with the food events: if you go to a restaurant you don’t usually talk to the people on the next table, but in our house you make new friends. We have a lot of new friends!”
And what inspires you when putting together the magazine?
“The people inspire us. Openhouse isn’t an interiors magazine; of course it helps if our interviewees have nice places, but more important to us are the activities they undertake and the need they have to share things with others.”
How do you source such fascinating subject matter?
“We’re very lucky. At the beginning I knew of a few places like ours, such as the Bless shop in Berlin and my friend’s pop-up restaurant, The Pale Blue Door, in London. Now, people write to us to tell us about other amazing homes they know of.”
What do you want readers to take away from the magazine?
“To know that there are many people around the world who can give you a different experience of eating or shopping, or help you to see art in a more intimate way. We also want to provide suggestions for places that you could visit when travelling, or even in your own city.”
Out of the homes you’ve featured to date, which have been your favourites?
“There have been many! In the third issue [pictured below] we’re featuring the Mallorcan house of Jorn Utzon, the architect who designed the Sydney Opera House. His family decided that, rather than leaving it empty for most of the year, they would build a foundation and give it to architects as a residence. It’s amazing that they’re prepared to share it with people they don’t know in this way, and the feeling we had when we stayed there was one of complete gratitude.
“I also loved the home of Fem in Istanbul, which acts as a plant shop, and an old cinema in the Italian countryside that was transformed into a house and now hosts film nights for local people.”
Openhouse is unusual in that it’s multilingual, with every feature published in English and the language of the interviewee…
“Yes – it’s important for us that the people we feature can tell their story in their own tongue. We know that we need to use English if we want to reach a large audience, but why loose the language that the story was originally written in?”
Can you tell us a little about your own home?
“We now have two homes that we open up. Mari Luz lives in the original one with her boyfriend. It’s a large apartment dating from 1886, with 4m-high ceilings. The rooms are full of light and there are beautiful mosaic floors typical of that era in Catalonia. There’s also a large, glassed-in balcony full of plants, which is at the back of the building and is incredibly peaceful.
“I’ve just moved to an older house in the Gothic Quarter. It has a very large garden, which is unusual in Barcelona, and it feels like a quiet paradise in the middle of the city. Inside are pieces of furniture and objects which I’ve made and collected over the years. My favourites are a wooden seat from Mexico, and a hand drawing of a forest by Santiago Fernández de Mosteyrín, which took nine months to complete and is utterly mesmerising.”
What drew you to Barcelona?
“Mari Luz came here from Murcia 15 years ago to study photography and never left. I arrived just over four years ago, wanting a bit more sunshine in my life. We love it here: Barcelona is small but vibrant, and it has many young people creating interesting works and projects. It’s very accessible from the rest of Europe, too.”
Finally, what are your future plans?
“We’re about to start welcoming overnight guests, as we’re creating the Openhouse B&B in my new home. Apart from that, we have no specific plans other than to keep doing what we’re doing, letting the magazine and our other projects evolve naturally.”
Head over to the Openhouse website to order a copy of the third issue and find out more about events hosted by Andrew and Mari Luz.
Photography provided by Openhouse