Looking at Omar Sosa’s spacious kitchen, it’s hard not to be envious. It’s a massive, comfortable-looking area packed full of strange objects and a sizeable heap of magazines and publications. But one item in particular catches my eye – perched between his fruit bowl and the sink is an entire leg of ibérico ham, a gift from his father, that confirms one of the suspicions I’ve had about Omar since I first started reading his magazine Apartamento; he is a man who knows how to live well.
Together with Nacho Alegre, Omar set up Apartamento five years ago and has since been reinventing the way we look at people’s homes, bucking the trend in interiors publications for cold, clinical spaces that resemble shopping centres as much as dwellings. Instead he and his team are interested in the everyday aspects of living, the way people actually exist in their spaces and their development over time; not just the colour they paint their walls. As their manifesto states: “A real living space is made from living, not decorating. A bored materialist can’t understand that a house has to become a home. It happens, not through perfection but by participation.”
Apartamento is pretty unique on the newsstands for its ability to get firmly under the skin of the people they interview. It’s an incredibly open and honest gesture to invite a photographer and interviewer into your home to discuss life in your personal space, but the resulting articles are some of the most illuminating around, so it’s undoubtedly worth the effort.
Given his passion for other people’s homes it’s not surprising to discover that Omar thinks often about his own living arrangements; though he’s never before invited cameras in to scrutinise the setup. Perched up in the rooftops of a small business district in the centre of Barcelona, he’s constantly playing with the layout of his space, amassing decorations and pieces of furniture. The area surrounding him is notorious for football hooliganism, but Omar’s garret affords him a quiet, calm environment in the midst of an anarchic part of the city. “My building is great because it’s almost all offices so I don’t have neighbours to bother when I throw summer parties.” When he first arrived there was almost nowhere to eat, and he had to walk for an intimidating ten minutes to find good food; a long way for a city dweller. The street has changed quite a lot though: “There are some ok restaurants now, some little overpriced bio markets and 24 hour shops that have saved my life more than once.”
Apart from the massive ham, the rest of Omar’s apartment is relatively modest, but he doesn’t intend to keep it that way forever. “I love rugs, and I’d love to have a bigger space for them. I recently fell in love with some very beautiful rugs that Nathalie du Pasquier designed for Memphis but I don’t know where to put them!” The flat is still very much a work in progress. “The house still needs to be properly illuminated but I started feeling comfortable with the light after getting some nice lamps from the local lighting company Santa and Cole, and some great finds at flea markets. However I still need a good lamp for the eating table.”
This table is one of the most important features in Omar’s home and he’s become obsessed with the minutiae of his kitchen, opting for a large, open-plan space when he re-fitted it a few years ago. “I can’t understand closed kitchens unless someone is cooking for you. All the life always happens around the kitchen even if you’re just heating up some pizzas in the microwave.”
In contrast to the open kitchen, Omar’s ideal home consists of a more enclosed environment. “I always keep changing my mind and for a long time I loved open loft-like spaces. Now I would like to have more rooms and divisions that give more cosiness, where you can create different environments. I’m also now thinking again about a house with an office attached to it where you just have to go next door and have your studio.” And does he think he’ll find this in Barcelona? “I hope not for so long. Barcelona is very comfortable and a great city if you have to keep travelling within Europe. I love this space and I can see myself here for a while but I really want to move out from Barcelona. There’s a pessimistic climate here now, and the fact I grew up in this city means it just feels too comfortable for me.”
He may feel too comfortable in Barcelona, but Omar’s desire to move seemingly comes more from his passion for changing and developing spaces rather than inhabiting a single, static environment. “I always imagine myself living in other people’s houses and how I would arrange them. That’s something that I really love doing!” Is that because he suffers from house envy? “Yes, a lot! I guess I would like to live different lives. Imagining yourself living in other houses is like getting someone else’s life.”