Interior design and culture

The interior design inspired on different parts of the world is gaining more popularity in interior design.

Decorating with culture in mind is a way to express beliefs and lifestyle factors that make you who you are. The statement that culture makes in your home has the ability to create a sort of ‘domino effect’ that can be positive not only for yourself but also for all your family members and friends who visit your home.

It is important that space where you live has a reflection of your personality and taste. It should somehow reflect who you are and where you came from.

One of the best ways to do this is to use culture as an inspiration for your interior design. As culture is an integral part of your background, it can be really useful to help you feel good in your home when it’s incorporated into the interior design.

Bringing culture into your home’s interior is a personal step that should reflect your deepest cultural roots.

But let’s analyze few popular interior design tendencies from close.

What they express? And where they come from?

Nordic parquet

Northern countries, such as Canada, Germany and Scandinavian countries are associated with efficiency and orderliness, but also with cold weather.

pexels-photo-259962These features are best expressed with a typical parquet floor and a minimalistic design. The parquet helps to keep the home warm, preferred colors are light brown, beige or fair gray. Walls are mostly painted in white and furniture is quite essential which tend to express functionality and a certain mental rigor.

Persian living room

Middle Eastern countries are best known for their community-style living and their huge families. Ancient Persian culture provided a basis which spread across the region and mixed with others through the centuries.

WhatsApp Image 2018-02-21 at 16.40.09A very big L-shaped couch and a typical Persian-style carpet surmounted by a chandelier are very iconic as they perfectly represent a welcoming and relationship-oriented culture, where convivial and social meetings are pivotal in order to maintain a good living standard.


Asian quietness


And how about Asia, especially the Far East?

Harmony, peace, and tranquillity are rooted in some of the oldest philosophies, such as Buddhism and Zen.

A minimalistic design, almost bare, with light colors and tones of brown that helps relaxing or even meditating.

The Asian interior has been very popular in Western countries as well because it is based on the fundamentals of Feng Shui. Designing one of your room with this theme is a way to inspire tranquility as it creates a harmony between the elements integrated into every space.

Mediterranean patio

yard-2763265_1280Mediterranean people in Southern Europe, North Africa, and Near East are used to spend most of their time outside, especially because of the warm and humid weather.

Furthermore, their culture is mostly relationship and community based, which makes them favor sitting in colorful patios, backyards or gardens, decorated with trees and flowers in a friendly and energetic outside environment, with powerful colors such as bright pink, blue and wooden elements.

How do you reflect your culture into your home?


Spanish style home decor


Spanish culture has influenced architecture and home design across South of Europe, Southeastern United States and, obviously South America.

Exposed wooden ceiling beams, stucco-like wall paint, dark wood features with iron elements, patios and colorful tiles are some of the most prominent characteristics of a Spanish-style interior design.

However, whether you’re living in Madrid, Barcelona or anywhere in the world, it’s quite easy to add a touch of Spain to your home décor.

Let’s analyze some of the main characteristics.




Fireplaces are both functional and decorative elements and this style often features them with decorative mantels and frames. Ornate patterns and lines are used to make the fireplace stand out and sometimes contrast with the rest of the room.


Catalan ceiling


The Catalan vault, is a type of low arch made of plain bricks often used to make a structural floor surface. It is built by laying bricks lengthwise over a wood form or “centering”, making it a gentler curve than has generally been produced by other methods of construction.

Of Roman origin, it is a traditional form in Catalonia (where it is widely used), and has spread around the Mediterranean area and the world through the work of Catalan architects such as Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.


patio-1192247_1920In Spanish-style homes, the patio is usually a covered space that traditionally serves to protect from the heat during the ‘siesta’ hours.

In particular, the Andalusian patio, typical of the Southern region of Andalucia, is a stone patio typically decorated with flowers and plants. It is an architectural fusion of the Roman and Andalusian world.




Colorful tiles


Spanish homes are often decorated with tiles that usually cover just the bottom half of the walls and there’s a clear line that separates the surfaces.

The tiles are very colorful, especially in the South, most frequently displaying earthy tones and shades of brown, red and blue sometimes combined and used to create strong contrasting effects.




Wooden window shutter

StockSnap_JBA0TU6048The so-called ‘persiana’ is made of wood and is usually painted in green or brown.

It helps to keep the heat away and to keep quiet during the traditional ‘siesta’, the after-lunch pause that lasts between 2 and 4 hours..


Which Spanish-style element would you choose for your home?

Festivities around the world: a relocation know-how

With a global-mindset increasingly important in contemporary society, it is appropriate to look at some of the major cultural, religious and national holidays that affect different parts of the world.

Nowadays, Christmas is probably the most commercialized and widely known celebration in most Christian cultures and many Western countries. Together with the New Year, which is actually based on a pagan celebration, most countries enjoy a ten-day period of celebration with their families or take this opportunity to travel.

But there are other major celebrations occurring around the world, religious and not.

Let’s look at some of them:


Golden Weeks (China & Japan)

China National Day is celebrated on 1 October, but many companies and government agencies stay close for the whole week to allow families to get together. Given the huge geographical size of the country, many people need to travel for several hours, or even days, to reach their families on the other side of China and some of the worst traffic jams in the world are to be seen on China’s roads during the Golden Week.

A second holiday week surrounds the Chines New Year festivities which coincides with the new moon between 21 Jan and 20 February.

Also, Japan enjoys a similar Golden Week in late April early May. The country celebrates a number of remarkable and important dates: Showa Day on 29 April (commemorating Emperor Showa Hirohito 1926-1988), Constitution Memorial Day on 3 May, Greenery Day on 4 May and Children’s Day on May 5.


Persian Nowruz ( Iran and central Asia)

Nowruz literally “new day” in Persian, is the name of the Persian New Year, which is celebrated worldwide by the Iranians and other ethno-linguistic groups, as the beginning of the New Year.

Although having  Zoroastrian origins, Nowruz has been celebrated by people from diverse ethno-linguistic communities for over 3,000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, and the Balkans.

Scientifically, Nowruz is the day of the vernal equinox and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the first day of the first month (Farvardin) in the Iranian calendar. It usually occurs on March 21 or the previous or following day, depending on where it is observed. The exact moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated every year. Families gather together, usually at the eldest family’s member home to eat traditional food and observe the rituals.


Semana Santa (Spain & Hispanic countries)

The Semana Santa, Holy Week in Spanish, is celebrated the week before Easter in many Catholic and Spanish-speaking countries. Festivities are characterized by street parades and processions in the streets and usually, many businesses close down for the whole week.

The Spanish southern region of Andalucia is quite famous for its religious celebrations which are very accurate and almost lavish.


Dia de los Muertos (Mexico)

During the Dia de Los Muertos Mexicans honor loved ones that have passed. Homes are decorated with altars, flowers, and pictures of the deceased ones.  Prior to the Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1, and November 2 to coincide with the Christian celebration of Allhallowtide: All Saints All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, most know as Halloween.

Traditions connected with this celebration include building private altars called ofrendas, preparing the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. 



The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. The Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and it lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

During this period, all adult Muslims are expected to fast during daylight hours from dawn until sunset and refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids and smoking as an act of purification and cleaning the soul.



Five interior design ideas from around the world

If you are thinking about decorating your home or just giving it a new outlook, you can get inspiration from other cultures and how they use few distinctive elements in their home interior design.

Here is our top-5 inspiration source, which is, of course, just a start…there is much more to discover.


The classic Japanese home design is minimalist and essential, concepts which are believed to have a deep connection to ancient Zen philosophy.

Houseplants, large windows and a low table surrounded by pillows can inspire a feeling of tranquillity and connection to nature.



Indian interior design often displays a mixture of warm-colored fabrics to create a sense of welcome in the home.

Together with intricate patterns, a mix of warm colors, such as deep red, purple and mustard yellow, reminds of the colorful spices that are used to prepare food.

Moreover, the home design is never complete without an incense burner and the use of a selection of Hindu idols or elephant statues.



The typical design of an Italian home includes most probably a fireplace and a comfortable colorful couch in front of it.

This cozy setting easily allows people to feel at ease while talking after a long lunch.

Italian style is famous for its elegance and the high-quality furnishings, such as wood or paintings that remind of Renaissance design and architecture.


South Africa

Wooden tribal masks, animalistic designs, and colorful fabrics are common elements of South African interior design.

Minimalistic details, such as print rugs help to display not only the unique side of the nation’s indigenous culture but also emphasize the rich splendor of the African continent.




With just a few objects placed in a room, such as Chinese calligraphy and a landscape or cherry-blossom painting, the indoor space strikes a fine balance by integrating nature into traditional designs.

One of the fundamental rules in Chinese interior design is simplicity, which helps to create a feeling of harmony and inner balance.


Chinese interior design ideas

What do you associate with a Chinese home design?

Most probably is an image of calm and harmonious outlook with colorful details.

Using them in the right way and in right places is should be thought carefully to avoid an opposite effect.

Nevertheless, our recommendation is to follow your own vision and don’t be afraid to combine different elements. Surprisingly, some Chinese home design can easily be mixed with other styles and give a personal touch to your home.

Let’s see two of the main features.


The richness of colors is one of the main features of the Chinese design, and they are used especially in combination with wood.

Usually, red is prevailing, but also gold and black are quite dominant.



Simplicity in the combination of natural elements has always been appreciated in Chinese traditional design.

In fact, in the traditional culture, the presence of nature in everyday life has good effects on people’s mind and attitude.

In today’s busy life, often we feel that link with nature is missing.

Feng shui is the art of organizing spaces to increase positive energy or Chi in our environment. Originated in China, it literally means wind and water in Chinese and has had deep spiritual contents in classic philosophy and doctrines.


Elements of animate and inanimate nature, like stones, wood and plants can have a beneficial influence in our home. Bamboo and bonsai trees suite the best in the concept of creating a spectacular effect.



What is your favorite Chinese-style decorating element?





8 curiosities about Barcelona

Famous for its cultural background and architectural wonders, Barcelona is also full of stories and anecdotes that must be taken into account to understand it better.

1. The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, recognized internationally as one of the greatest artists, with works such as the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà and Park Güell, among many others, was killed by a tram in the city of BarcelonaDue to his careless appearance, those who witnessed the accident thought he was just a vagabond.
2. In the square of Sant Felip Neri, you can see the marks of the from bombs dropped in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, causing 42 deaths, most of them children from the school next to the church.
In that same square the video clip of the song “My Immortal” of the group Evanescence was filmed, and a scene of the movie “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona” with Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson.
3. The Teatro del Liceu has suffered two fires and an anarchist attack. The first fire took place in 1861, and the theatre was completely destroyed. In 1893 the attack perpetrated by the anarchist Santiago Salvador caused 20 deaths. The second fire was in 1994 when the entire theater was also burned down. It is said that during the Middle Ages in that same place many executions were carried out and that since then it is a cursed place.
4. In the Sagrada Família there are two magical paintings like a sudoku, one on the door and the other on the facade. They are formed by a series of figures placed so that the sum of them in horizontal or vertical always adds 33, the age that Jesus Christ was supposed to have at the time of his death. The Sagrada Família is the most visited monument in Spain, followed by the Alhambra in Granada.
5. Park Güell was originally designed to be a garden that would house 60 residential homes for the Catalan upper class. Only two of them were sold (in one of them Gaudí lived for several years). After this real estate failure, the heirs of Count Güell decided to transfer the garden to the City of Barcelona in exchange for a sum of money.
Nowadays, Park Güell is one of the main tourist attractions of the city, and one of the best viewpoints.
6. The shape of the Torre Agbar was inspired by the architecture of Gaudí and the pinnacles of the Montserrat mountains, although it is often associated with a phallic form. The tower has been climbed by Frenchman Alain Robert twice.
7. George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga, visited Barcelona and is said to have been inspired by Casa Mila’s chimneys to create the helmets of Darth Vader and the Imperial soldiers.
8. There are many songs that speak of Barcelona, but undoubtedly, the most famous one was played by Freddie Mercury, leader of the British band Queen, and the Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé. It was recorded between 1987 and 1988 and was the song chosen by the Spanish Olympic Committee as the anthem of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Adapted from:

Destination Spain: a cultural profile

A short guide to the most important factors to bear in mind when you decide to relocate to Spain, for a short time or for good.

First of all, remember that Spain is one of Europe’s oldest countries and it has been dominated by European politics and Catholicism for many centuries. This affects society and everyday life communications at different levels.

Also, there are several Spains (Castile, Andalucia, Galicia, Catalonia, the Basques): make sure you have an idea of where people’s allegiances are.

Body language: Spanish body language is among the most open of all cultures. Eye contact, exaggerated facial expressions, extensive use of hands, arms and shoulders are quite typical here.

Spaniards tend to observe you carefully and sum you up by watching your physical characteristics, your mannerisms and your willingness to participate in the socializing.  In contrast, they read on average less than any other Europea and pay little attention to the content of presentations.


Typical habits: The globalization, the European Union and the following obligation to align their business hours to the rest of the world are causing the typical ‘siesta’ to decline, at least in multinational companies.

However, local businesses still follow this after-lunch two hours rest, although is becoming less popular in big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

Relationship building in Spain is nearly always blended with eating and drinking.

There is very typic Spanish word which describes this feature: “sobremesa” literally means “on the table¨and refers to all the informal chitchatting that happens after dining.


Work&time: Normally, the working day is not an unbroken period of concentrated effort, like it is in northern European or North American countries.

Coffee breaks, non-work conversations with colleagues and long meetings that stray into social affairs are all seen by the Spanish as valid parts of the working culture.

Spaniards are generally multi-active, not linear-active, again in contrast with northern Europeans and North Americans.

In short, this means that the more things they can do or handle at the same time, the happier and more fulfilled they feel.


Next Door BCN is a typical Spain-born company but with a strong international orientation. We find all these observations quite accurate, but, obviously, things are changing quite fast.

What do you think? Have you lived or worked in Spain?



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