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Casa Olivar, a sensorial refuge in Madrid


In the heart of the bustling city of Madrid, a small building called Casa Olivar has been rescued from a ruined state and a turbulent past.

The interior design was conducted by designers Matteo Ferrari and Carlota Gallo in order to transform it into their loving home, breathing new life into this once-turbulent space.



“Adding layers, rewriting its history and thereby generating new memories.”

Matteo Ferrari and Carlota Gallo


The Concept

Casa Olivar was conceptualized as a living object in continuous transformation, where various stages and uses can be accommodated.

According to this scenario, the site was transformed into an atypical exhibition space for NoDo during the construction period; a silent event which invited a select group of Madrid designers to reflect on how we conceive light from darkness and kept behind closed doors.

The conversion to living space is spontaneous and essential, recovering those distinctive identity features of the architecture and providing a new narrative.


“A ‘non-urban’ place, a sensorial refuge to reconnect with ourselves, regulate our emotions and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.”

Matteo Ferrari and Carlota Gallo


The intervention is characterized by spatial continuity and warm minimalism; it seeks to elevate natural light and encourage the use of local craft materials, generating a close dialogue between light and materiality.

Casa Olivar is both a house and a place: an intimate space where creativity can evolve but above all, a space designed to be enjoyed and shared.

The Architecture

Located in a traditional “Madrilenian Corrala” building, this two-level apartment is bounded by a façade and an inner courtyard with a historic character.

The distribution is organic and characterized by the succession of consecutive spaces; the central partition has been altered respecting the same proportions of the façade openings and forming two lowered arches in the traditional style.

The intervention aims to generate a lighting and visual connection to provide the sensation of spatial openness and to connect with the outside world.

The natural light sources are thus visible from all points of the house, generating an atmosphere characterised by nuances of light and soft shadows

The Design

The light flows through the space, changing its intensity according to the room and in harmony with the circadian rhythm: the living room is flooded with natural light, the kitchen in a subtle shadow and the bedroom is distinguished by a relaxing atmosphere.

The kitchen is set around a sculptural central table: the main character where the daily action takes place.

The atmosphere changes its tone in the bathroom with ochre colours and a curtain inspired by the skin’s tactile sensations. Made of nylon, it brings a sense of warmth and dynamism to the space, establishing a dialogue with the artwork at the back of the room.


The Materials


“How can we stimulate the most primal senses and at the same time generate a feeling of a “non-urban” space? A rural retreat in the city centre? “

Matteo Ferrari and Carlota Gallo


This is the question the designers have set themselves prior to creating Casa Olivar

The approach is, to be honest with the materials: respect their authentic appearance and textures, and prioritise natural resources and local craftsmanship. A bold design with pure geometries generates subtle dialogue with earth tones palettes and textiles; the fabrics are the real protagonists of the space with their shades and transparencies.

The handmade terracotta tiles give continuity between the different rooms, covering the floor and embracing the bathroom’s walls. Used in various formats and sizes, they contribute to enriching spatial perception and give identity to architectural volumes.

Most of the natural stones have been recovered during the renovation work and are used alternately throughout the space to create low tables and display stands.

The antiqued limestone worktop and the tadelakt finish of the sculptural table find their breaking point in the kitchen’s aluminium, conferring a more contemporary look to the ensemble.

The Objects

The space’s soul inhabits the objects instinctively distributed in the home: dynamic artefacts that add substance and personality.

Some of these objects have been designed by Carlota Gallo, such as the textile pieces distributed throughout the house: a pure exercise of expression, both tangible and subtle.

Other products are the result of this collaboration, such as the sculptural table designed by the couple.

Within this mixture we can find arts and crafts such as the washbasin made by the artisan María Lázaro, the Colombian hammock weaved by indigenous women respecting the traditional techniques and the photographic work ” Messages for cosmic creatures” by Carlota Guerrero.

Read more on our inspiring interior design finds here








Photography: Asier Rua

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