Teodora Nikolova: Architecture and design are capable to engender stories, elation and inspiration
We are pleased to introduce Teodora Nikolova, the new Editor-in-Chief of Unique Estates Life Magazine starting from our next issue. In 2005 Teodora became Editor-in-Chief of the newly established Bulgarian version of Bravacasa, an Italian magazine for interior design, and in the course of 15 years made it an indisputable source of expertise in the Bulgarian media market. She contributes to image-building of impactful design studios in social media. Teodora has a wealth of media expertise developed during her seven years of hosting information and cultural programs and talk shows in the air of First Private National Radio Express. Editor in Bard and Egmont — leading publishing houses in their segments. Author of the book ‘The Vanishing City’, publ. Vessela Lyutskanova, 2011. Her second book is in the pipeline as preparations are being made together with the next publisher, Zhanet 45.
What kind of person are you, which are the most important things we should know about you?
This question provokes vanity. I know the value of graceful exaggeration, but I am most confortable sailing in the waters of discretion. I can venerate anything from a nice tree to a splendid baroque element or a minimalistic space. I love to provoke myself and others with unexpected associations between various things. What I regret is the advent of clichés — both gestures and relations. What humbles me is elegance, again in the form of gestures of elegance. I know that Devil and God are in the detail and carry both the burden and joy ensuing from this knowledge. I have dedicated many years of my professional being to the notion of luxury and have encountered both insights and misconceptions about it. But what I know for sure is that luxury is a sustainable motivator in our lives.
After 146 issues of Bravacasa, what did you learn about people and their world as reflected in interior spaces?
Harry Bertoia, one of the Masters of 20th century design, said: ‘The urge for good design is the same as the urge to go on living’. This means that interior design tells you a lot about the individual and his or her world. This is how you realize that some people are more open while others are more encapsulated. Some are daring, some are tepid. Some are trying to usher themselves in certain roles which they believe to be their real ME, while others are in a constant quest for their own elusiveness. Some are sentimental and contemplative, and others are cynical. Some collect precious moments, others spill them. Some are frugal, others are generous. These traits transpire from interior spaces. Some interiors can be very personal and honest, but even if the inhabitants ‘are not present’ apparently, they are still present with their absence.
You have explored, either live or from photographs, hundreds of interiors from Bulgarian and international designers and architects. Tell us about some of those which you will never forget.
After everything which mankind has been through in recent months, my answer will probably be influenced by what Lee Edelkoort made a theme of the exhibition she curated this month (October 2020) — New Melancholy. Many interiors have left their imprints in me. Architecture and design are capable to engender stories, elation and inspiration. Juxtaposed as they are, Tadaa Ando’s ingenious volumes sculptured from concrete and sunlight and the Parisian sweet lavishness of Gerard Faivre’s apartments have already become part of my aesthetic memory. The most memorable ones are the interiors which I have experienced physically. I was able to see the play of light in these spaces and how they interact with the motions and voices of their inhabitants. These discoveries I made in spaces which I initially saw from a (wonderful) photo session and then visited personally. One of these experiences was in the home of architects Vyara Zhelyazkova and Georgi Kutov. The first time I found myself there was on a gloomy rainy day similar to the one on which the interior had been photographed some time before. The magnetism of the space and its visual impact were incomparably stronger when experienced live. I had a similar perception in a 16th century palazzo in Prato, home of friends of mine, architects Sabrina Bignami and Alessandro Capellaro. That was one of the loveliest eclectics I have ever seen, all the more impactful when Sabrina, Alessandro and I were laughing and dipping in rosé wine our cantuccini (whose glory originates exactly from Prato). A few years ago, during the exhibition I Saloni in Milan, I was at an unforgettable party hosted by Stefano Boeri at a multistory house which the Boeri family owns in the old town. Architects and designers who write the history of contemporary design were among the guests. I will always remember this house as a collage of legendary faces and interior fragments — the parapet, the terrace facing the patio, the kitchen top, the low table in front of the TV set and the piles of books which one could see even on the floor.
What attracts you to a space, how does the moment ‘sinking in it’ come?
Various spaces hide various keys to them. In any case I would not get attracted to a space if I cannot experience harmony from its volumes and their interplays with light. Generous heights, windows rising right from the floor and the scenery behind these windows are important. Essentially, the perception of plasticity in the space, the promise that it will fit you as velvet glove. Old-time flooring of beautifully painted tiles — exotic here, but traditional heritage in Spain and Portugal — or a lovely architectural detail can make me fall in love with a place.
What is your advice to those who are now creating their new home?
Do not forget that what you are creating is your island — a homely space which is there to make you happy and inspire the best in you. As with everything else, what we look for in a home is an answer to the question what makes us happy. Which means that we should be reasonably cognizant of who we are and very honest to ourselves. Trends are important, but only if reflected in our individuality. In other words — do not enslave yourself to the colour of the year. Having a guide on your way is priceless. Good agents, architects and designers make good guides as well. Be honest with them as you discuss your ideas about your new house, or the lack of them. And never forget that the most precious trait of a home is timelessness. Year in, year out, a home should add new beauty and lovingly store the traces of our emotions and stories. This, combined with generous spaces, magnetic views and classy design, will make the soul-infused luxury of your daily life.