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Debora Aguiar

Brazilian architect and interior designer Debora Aguiar has found an ideal platform for her signature natural aesthetic in the new 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, scheduled to open as a LEED-certified “green" hotel and condo in early 2014, at Collins Avenue and 24th Street, in the popping Collins Park neighborhood. Her namesake firm in Sao Paulo has been commissioned to design its condominiums, which developers The Lefrak Organization and Starwood Capital Group envision as an organic oasis. “I’m in love with nature and rustic elements,” says Aguiar, whose abundant use of wood for the project ranges from driftwood lighting to recycled wood furniture. “I like to balance them with noble materials like leather, glass and steel.” Her design philosophy is chronicled in her first book, as yet untitled but due to publish in 2014. In the meantime, she sat with INDULGE to share a few design tips for others trying to bring a little environmentalism into their home.

Always keep the planet in mind. “As designers, it’s our duty to make sustainable solutions a priority. We must continue to seek energy or money-saving options, pollute less and be committed to the environment. I always like to use natural materials within my projects, with a clear preference for sustainable materials like bamboo, as well as textured coatings made from banana fiber, PET bottles or cardboard, among many others. The fusion of sustainability with technology is the formula for success.”

Reach for LEDs. “The advantages of LED are endless, and all demonstrate a commitment to sustainability: a longer lifetime around 50,000 hours, less heat production, not to mention any UV that harms paintings, and power usage savings up to 80 percent. Decoratively speaking, they come in a wide color range and create unique lighting effects.”    Keep things pale or monochromatic. “Off-white, beige, nude, along with mist blue, dry rose and gray—they are all colors that are on trend today. They’re great for creating a natural look that goes with a sustainable approach to design. Also, a space can look spectacular in just one color! The key is to introduce a variety of textures through the use of a rug or throw pillows, for example. You can also alternate flat and upholstered wall panels, or pressed matte and polished finishes on fixtures.”   

Create community. “Multipurpose, integrated spaces improve and encourage interaction among family members and neighbors, so I apply this philosophy whenever possible, especially in creating family rooms, home offices, home theaters and fitness centers. With our hectic modern lifestyles, people crave a return to family and community.”

Bring in the green. “Vertical gardens can highlight and humanize a space. Even if you live in a condo, you can have a garden. Something as simple as a compact potted garden on a balcony wall can work. I believe living among nature enhances our well-being.”