Family Values: Laia Aguilar, founder and creative director of The Animals Observatory, at home in Pontós, Spain, with her children Adriana, 6, and Pablo, 9. Photographed by Pablo Sarabia.
- LAIA AGUILAR believes that children are never too young to be exposed to good design. The creative director recently launched The Animals Observatory, an artful label comprising beautiful fabrics and clever prints. Here, at her country home on the outskirts of Barcelona, she shares her inspiration
- YOU HAVE CREATED A CHILDREN’S LINE THAT IS SO UNIQUE AND COLLECTIBLE THANKS TO ITS ARTFUL INSPIRATION – WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND IT? We wanted to create timeless, quality clothes, with their own world and an iconographic aesthetic that gets better over time. Our ambition as a brand is to be remembered, part of the memories of the children who wear our clothes today, when they are grown up.
- CREATIVELY, ONE THEME YOU KEEP RETURNING TO IS ... In spite of fast fashion, I think the desire to create lasting, almost handcrafted clothes will win out in the fashion world. I don’t mean haute couture, but a space in between where a number of designers conceive fashion as an artistic discipline that is also practical and for day-to-day. Like when you see a piece of furniture by Charlotte Perriand, you see a beautiful object that is also for sitting on. It’s that space in between where I feel most comfortable.
- CAN YOU SHARE YOUR CURRENT INSPIRATION AND HOW YOU GO ABOUT PROCESSING THOSE IDEAS: Work is my passion. To me, work, effort and inspiration go hand in hand. I’m never without a notebook and a handful of coloured pencils. I also get inspiration from Pinterest, films, children’s stories, paintings… Although sometimes all I need is a smile from my daughter. Anything beautiful that has a story inspires me.
- WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN PONTÓS, BARCELONA'S COUNTRYSIDE Everything! I love the peace of the countryside, walks in the woods, the starry sky at night. I don’t like cities, I think, in a way, they blur people. The country gives you a clearer image of yourself, a human scale to live on. It also helps me concentrate. I lived in Barcelona for a while, but I didn’t like it. Too much input. Living in the country is a gift every day. Ultimately, I love the idea of my children opening the door and being free.
WHAT IS YOUR VIEWPOINT ON MOTHERHOOD AND YOUR SECRET TO STRIKING A WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I try to find balance between the mother I am and the girl I was. I want my children to enjoy their childhood, but also learn what responsibility and commitment are. As for a work-life balance, there’s no secret: it’s a daily struggle that takes patience, work capacity and staying cheerful.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR OWN CHILDREN TO BE CREATIVE AND HAVE AN APPRECIATION OF THE ARTS? It’s easy for me, actually. At home we’re surrounded by creativity. I’m almost ashamed to say it but at home the four of us are usually in the dining room: my daughter Adriana and I drawing or colouring and my son Pablo and my husband reading. Plus, Pablo’s being taking drama lessons since he was seven, and Adriana will start next year. I think acting helps children to know themselves better.
- WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL SUNDAY ROUTINE: Having a lie-in, reading the newspapers and all having breakfast together. Calling friends and going for a long walk in the woods. And then, after lunch, all four of us settling in to watch a film.
- LASTLY, COUNTRY LIVING IS SO CONDUCIVE TO GOOD COOKING, CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE: I make a very good gazpacho, if I do say so myself. I like it because it’s easy and plain. I get fed up with elaborate dishes. Actually, my husband does all the cooking and he’s great at it. The time we spend together at meal times is the best; it’s quality time. My husband invariably has us in stitches.
LAIA AGULAR'S GAZPACHO
- Ingredients for four people:
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 small onion
- half a red pepper
- 4 slices of wholegrain bread, soaked in water
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- Chop the tomatoes and peel if desired. Peel and chop the cucumbers, onion and red pepper. Put tomato, cucumber, onion and pepper together in a bowl and blend with a hand blender, adding the bread, a good slug of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, chill in the fridge and just before serving add cold water and ice cubes if desired.
Follow Laia Aguilar on Instagram
"I like [gazpacho] because it’s easy and plain. I get fed up with elaborate dishes."