Máxima, 35th anniversary special edition

MÁXIMA RETURNS TO THE NEWSSTANDS TO CELEBRATE 35 YEARS

On Wednesday 15 November, Máxima publishes a special paper edition to mark the title’s anniversary.
With the disappearance of paper titles dedicated to women’s causes – a space that Máxima occupies online today – we return to the newsstands for a special anniversary edition celebrating 35 years of the magazine.

This is what being an interior designer is all about: making the walls tell the story of who lives in that house. And when the walls are millions of years old and have their own story to tell? This is the case with Boulder House, the holiday home that Rita Andringa restored for herself, which is a true megalithic journey.

A MILLENARY HOUSE by Madalena Haderer

AS A CHILD, RITA ANDRINGA remembers going with her mum to the Máxima newsroom for a job interview. That was 35 years ago, just when the magazine was taking its first steps – which we celebrate in this issue. So this conversation had something of a strange cosmic coincidence. At that time, when she was a year old, Rita still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, but her teachers told her she had a flair for the arts and she followed that path. At one point she said she wanted to be a painter. Her father thinks it’s “nonsense” and suggests architecture. Rita turns him down. She went to IADE, where the best grades were in Interiors, and that’s what she ended up choosing. She started working in studios and, “strangely”, was invited to do more architectural projects than interiors and decoration. “I think my father was right, which is nice to say,” she confesses.

For 16 years, she worked with Vera Iachia, the designer who developed the Comporta-inspired style – which consists of a mixture of Portuguese handicrafts, such as embroidery from Viana, with abjects, colours and textures typical of exotic environments such as Bali, which the designer shaped as she restored the old fishermen’s houses on the Comporta estate. When Vera died, this legacy was passed on to Rita, who continues to be much sought after to develop projects in this style, which is, incidentally, what she enjoys doing the most and what gives her the most fun “because it’s about mixing a lot of very different things”.

She started her Andringa Studio on her own in 2019, it grew and today she has 11 people working with her, including her husband, Filipe Rocha. And that’s where she welcomes us, in Avenidas Novas, for a chat about her latest project – Boulder House, a holiday home on the banks of the Alqueva that she restored for herself, and also about what each person can do to live better in their own home.

How do you define your style, the style of Andringa Studio?
I really like using natural materials – such as straw, terracotta and textured wood – and I really like making unusual mixtures. And playing with scale. These are the three headlines, but then you have to adapt to the place and the person. For us, a sense of place is very important. And then it’s about responding to the challenge the client poses. Maybe you want to have Bali in the Algarve. Or you have a house in the Alentejo, but you were born in Trás-os-Montes and want to bring a bit of your origins there. How is this done? That’s the challenge.

What does it mean to play with scale?
It’s taking something that’s normally known for being small, and maybe small is kind of tacky, but then you increase it to a size that you don’t even realise what it is. That’s one idea. Another idea is to use large pieces. I love big sofas. That thing about sitting on 70 centimetres, what punishment is that? The invitation to lie down, to be barefoot, to be comfortable. Sofas, lamps, cushions, flowers and vases must always be large.

Do the Portuguese have a tendency to clutter up the house with things or is that something from our grandparents’ time?
It depends. I’d say the Portuguese don’t clutter. Rarely do Portuguese people like to buy art, have books in the house or plants. What upsets me most is that people don’t live comfortably. They don’t care if they have a carpet. If they have curtains. If the house echoes. They don’t care. Or they don’t realise that it could be different because they haven’t been exposed to all these things that improve people’s lives.

“An interior designer is a lover, a son, a husband, a therapist…” And a phrase of yours. What do you mean by that?
When we work with couples, how often are we couple therapists at meetings? Sometimes we’re punching bags. Sometimes there’s a delicious relationship between us and the client. We have to play so many roles. When I do a house, I find out where the client is going to put his pants. I have to ask everything. What habits he has. How he sleeps. What the pill cabinet looks like. We have to understand all the habits to be able to answer everything that needs to be done in a house. That’s why I say you have to be able to cope. I think being an interior designer is a superpower. You have to use it well, but it’s because what you do really does change people’s lives, for better or for worse.

Rita thought up Boulder House, a house designed by you for you.
We were looking for a holiday home near the sea. Some friends drew our attention to this house which, although it doesn’t have the sea, does have the Alqueva, which is beautiful. Filipe fell in love straight away. I wasn’t convinced because I’ve never had a holiday home and didn’t think I needed one, but I’ve always loved Monsaraz and I love megalithic routes. When we went to see the house, we opened the door to the storage room and saw a gigantic stone. It’s like having a tapir or a minimenir in the house! How can someone have this stone and instead of having it in plain sight, it’s hidden in the storeroom, full of rubbish around it? Today that stone is our shower.

I was going to ask precisely that.
It’s easy for others to decide. For me it’s very complicated, Filipe suffers a lot: “Choose the colour. Choose the colour! Choose the colour now! I have to! You’ve had three weeks to tell me what colour it is. We’re all late.” And I can’t, I can’t. I have to choose the best colour. Today I feel like this, tomorrow I feel like that… The worst thing – and this is a bit schizophrenic – is that I live as if I were a client. Now I’m going to spend this money and I’m going to do this, so I have to choose well. And that’s why I don’t choose. Filipe says to me: “Rita, your life is a laboratory. Please choose something and then change.” But no. No way. If I paint today, I won’t paint again next week.

What do you miss about a holiday home?
It’s funny, in our house in Lisbon we have lots of things, but in Boulder House, no, Ali, the architecture and scale speak volumes to us. The man who made the wall, who plastered it with the back of a spoon, had days when he was more drunk, days when he could see better. And the result is that we look at the wall and it’s alive. It tells a story. What’s more, when we’re on holiday, in country houses or beach houses, nature speaks to us more. We’re fuller. In Lisbon we have to fill up to get the emotions.

What’s your favourite thing about Boulder House?
For me, the most extraordinary thing is the shower with the stone. Sometimes I pinch myself. This is really mine. This is right here.

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