Argentina's Ambassador Talks Culture and Design


Due to the distance between Argentina and Indonesia, our readers might not be aware of the beauty of Argentine design. During our recent visit to their residence, Argentine ambassador HE Ricardo Luis Bocalandro and his wife, Maria Elena Urriste, spoke about current design trends in their homeland, as well as their own personal take on the subject .

What is the most important design element you look for in a residence?

Ricardo Luis Bocalandro (RLB): The presence of art. I feel artwork, especially paintings, are a very defining expression of a well-decorated home and the pursuit of elegance and taste. They dress the house with a special, irreplaceable touch.

What are some of your favorite pieces at the residence?

Maria Elena Urriste (MEU): I love antiques, so the furniture in the residence was something that I fell in love with at first sight. However, I always put emphasis on curtains. They provide the ambiance with the right style and grace. When I choose the fabric for a particular room, I not only look for the right design and color, but also for the texture and quality. You cannot go cheap on the material. It can change the energy and the style of any room. Although originally curtains had a practical function in decoration, whether to avoid the sunlight or–for security reasons–to impede the view from outside, nowadays they are an important element of the interior design. To me, curtains must be a statement: A special and unique touch that cannot be reproduced from one room to another.

How have you incorporated Argentine culture into the residence’s interior design?

RLB: The government of Argentina owns the most important painting in the house: a painting from Florencio Molina Campos, an Argentine master of the early 20th century that used to depict countryside (pampas) scenes, in particular of their inhabitants, the gaucho, and his best friend–his horse.

We also expose some other cultural pieces, for instance the bull’s horns that were used in the past as a receptacle to keep wine by the gauchos who used to travel long journeys around the pampas; the silver handmade antique mate, a type of cup that serves to drink the Argentine type of tea typical of the pampas; and the antique silver knife that the gauchos use to cut Argentine beef asado, as well as many silver pieces that are typical of the colonial years of Argentina. Finally, we have three paintings from Antonella Pedetti, a contemporary Argentine artist who currently lives in Jakarta, who has created a style mixing Indonesia and Argentine culture. We are lucky to have an Argentine artist of her level present in the country.

What’s currently trending in Argentine design?

RLB: Argentine design is at the forefront of Latin America, not only in interior design, but also in fashion design. There are a good number of very talented people in the design sector. Argentina has always excelled as one of the design and elegance centers of Latin America. Embedded deeply in its European roots, it has inherited a European taste, but has been able to blend it with strong local features.

What does design mean to your life?

MEU: We live surrounded by design. Once you realize and admit it, you start to enjoy it everywhere you look and in everything you do. Design is in the way you dress, in your make up, in your car, in your chair, in the room and not only in the way things look, but also in their comfort. I think design is a way of living.

What’s your definition of a perfect home?

MEU: My perfect home is a home with my family, my favorite corner and my books inside. A place where you always want to come back, disregarding where you have been.

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Erza S.T.
Erza has pursued his great passion for opera and classical music for over a decade. His brainchild, the Indonesia Opera Society, has produced many classical music concerts and operas, and recently marked its 10th anniversary with a gala production. He is also a journalism lover focusing on luxury, lifestyle and travel stories, which he files from datelines around the globe.