Juan Moreno Lopéz-Calull is the founder and designer at John Brown Projects, a Barcelona-based interior design firm and art consultancy. As a 28-year-old city dweller, Juan had the luxury of creating a space catered exclusively to his own needs and vision. Upon securing the apartment, he excitedly imagined it as a canvas to showcase the artists he champions professionally, a platform to articulate his team’s mission and capabilities, and an opportunity to tell his story. The outcome is a home that exists as a living, breathing testament to Juan’s very personal aesthetic ideals, passions, and philosophies.
In order to achieve his goals for the space, Juan began by gutting the existing layout and starting from scratch. From the beginning, every decision was driven by the desire to create moments for his storied art collection to shine. “Most of my pieces have been purchased at different times, in different places, and don’t always follow a specific taste,” he says. “I think we all like to live with beautiful things. But for me, the beauty is in the concept and history.” Juan began his career in the New York art world at Christie’s. There, he became fascinated with emerging artists and made it part of his purpose to find and nurture undiscovered talent through his evolving design practice. Through this lens, he sees every surface as an occasion to express something new.
Take the back of the front door: Typically a utilitarian and unnoticed spot, Juan commissioned Sandra Modrego to paint one of her signature figures in black and white. Instantly, her addition transformed the door into a statement moment. The crown molding in the sitting room, meanwhile, is painted in a vivid palette of burnt orange, olive, and magenta, bringing life to the white walls. Juan’s unexpected ideas prove that no area is too small to cover in artistry and create unexpected beauty.
The combined kitchen and dining areas were another domain for Juan’s unique personality to be asserted. A general distaste for appliances and an obsession with meticulous details led Juan to dream up a plan to completely hide his oven inside a leg of the dining table. And the chairs around that table? Yes, all 12 are different—odes to his favorite design movements and makers. A 1960s chair by Borge Mogensen for FDB Mobler is particularly close to his heart.
The seamless flow and open floor plan are ideal for Juan’s youthful and entertaining-centric lifestyle. A frieze by Albert Riera Galceran anchors the foyer, marking Juan’s bold vision for his guests. Yet it also creates “a harmony on a subtle level. It brings everything together,” says Juan. The whole home is an exercise in juxtapositions—restraint versus generosity, quiet versus loud, experimental versus historically informed.
Ultimately, everything you would want to know about Juan and his home can be found in his off-kilter iron doorway: a centerpiece of the apartment, the gateway to the main living areas. “I didn’t want to feel that my house was in perfect balance—perfect colors, perfect lines,” says Juan. “I wanted to break with this idea that straight shapes are always what we consider perfect.” And herein lies the true power of design. In this singular doorway, an entire lifestyle dogma is discernible.
Do It Yourself
Go big. Just because you’re in a tighter urban space, doesn’t mean you have to rely on small-scale art. Don’t be afraid to put large, statement-making pieces in an apartment. Cover an entire wall in a tapestry, like Juan’s by Josep Maynou, or invest in a sizable abstract work.
Get personal. A gallery wall can include more than prized artworks—mix in personal artifacts and mementos. Above Juan’s desk sits the front page of the Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the 2015 terrorist attack. “I was living in Paris at the time,” he says. “It was important for me to keep a memory of that horrible day.” Paintings by Berta-Blanca T. Ivanow and Ignasi Monreal are presented alongside casual snapshots of family and friends.
Trust your eye, follow your joy. A home should be an amalgamation of everything you love. Here, “every piece of art, design, and book has a story behind it,” says Juan. If you start the design process by collecting items that tell your story, it won’t matter if you’re sticking to a plan or a style—your space will end up coming together organically. “It is our individual eye that sees things as decorative and leads us to fit them into projects.”