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Annie Deakin

Interiors insider: Fernanda Semler, Botanique


‘The most common decorating mistake is trying hard to make everything match,’ says design entrepreneur Fernanda Semler who opened the luxury hotel Botanique near Sao Paolo in Brazil last Autumn. She tells Annie Deakin about taking design risks, interior trends and what is post-luxury.

When you are decorating a home, it's all about… the energy and style of the people who are living and using the spaces. For a hotel the idea is to surprise and create interesting but intimate spaces.

I'm always searching for… items in the decor that have the right mixture of concept and innovation.

My design philosophy is… post-luxury. It’s about what comes after the brands and over-charging that has taken the world by storm.

The most unusual interior I have created is… the interior moor-cum-monastery garden inside my beach house in Alagoas in northern Brazil.

To decorate, you need to… take risks, challenge colors and texture and still keep an eye on what's real and trends that will not dissipate with time.

Every space has… it's own life, and is eager to tell you a story.

The key difference between decorating a home or hotel is… the flux of diversified clientéle.

The last hotel I stayed in was… Nuss Hotel. It is a reformed convent in the centre of Palermo Soho in Buenos Aires. It’s a very trendy and fun district. Before that, we stayed in Twin Farms in Vermont, a very sophisticated and understated retreat. There is incredible art on every wall and - what I appreciate the most - invisible and efficient service.

The most beautiful hotel in the world is… Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.

My favourite cities for buying furniture and art are… Copenhagen and Vienna.

When I start a project I… spend a lot of time in the space itself, looking at its empty voids. That's when a film begins, in my head, with the place coming to life. Intuition is king in design, more so than creativity.

For style advice, I call… my Austrian friend and great scenographer Katja Klopf in Vienna. Also - Alice Ferraz – a wise fashion professional who guides on what is just a trend and what will carry on.

For inspiration, I turn to… How To Spend It, Monocle, Portal Pitanga, Adelia Borges, Bazaar, Bamboo (Brazil) and last but not least House & Garden.

My favourite interior trend is… handcrafted pieces with a designer twist.

I hate…. the endlessly repeating minimalist scene, with marble, sunk lighting, coffee and black colouring, plate glass; it is all ad nauseam.

I am excited by… the combination of traditional organic materials and forms with contemporary ones. I like eternal colors, such as white, gold, beige, brown and black always sprinkled with strong and lively ones. Red, mauve and sienna are my favorites.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website mydeco.com.