THE INTERVIEW: Laura Arana Castillo

“Being by the water is essential.”

“Being by the water is essential.”

She’s modeled the world over, but Laura Arana Castillo is an artist at heart. She talks to Life House about her sources of inspiration, from the Mediterranean Sea to Miami’s architectural gems.

As the co-founder of LAVS, a multidisciplinary design studio, Laura Arana Castillo perfectly encapsulates Miami's vibe: clean, modern lines with soothing pastel colors. The artist has created bespoke tapestries for Life House Ocean Drive that evoke the seaside local in Europe, where she was born, and Miami, where she lives today. This is her story.

The Setting: Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your design sensibilities?

I grew up by the Mediterranean Sea, and being by the water is essential for me. That’s why you'll find curves like the waves in my designs. Traditional Mediterranean architecture was always my favorite inspiration. It's simple, clean, and uses only essential materials. It’s relaxing to see.

Laura preparing a wave-like tapestry for Life House Ocean Drive.

The Plot: How do you spend a day seeking beauty in Miami?

Enjoy its Art Deco architecture. The most famous buildings are in South Beach, but you can find them all around the city. Upper Buena Vista is full of hidden Art Deco gems. Many of the houses need some love, but there are so many unique and unfamiliar designs to uncover.

The Characters: Who is one of your favorite artists in Miami?

The Pérez Art Museum Miami has stoked us up from the beginning, but I always tell people to visit the local galleries and studios, because that's where you'll connect with the real Miami. Alexander Mijares is one of my favorites. Check out his gallery in Wynwood for colorful, vibrant works that reflect his Cuban and Spanish roots.

Vertical garden at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Pérez Art Museum.

The Conflict: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a designer? How did you overcome it?

I think for any creative person, it will be the designers’ block when your creativity hides from you. My method to bring it back will always be to forget about it, wander the streets, and let people inspire me again.

The Theme: You curate an amazingly dreamy Instagram feed for LAVS. How do you describe your aesthetic?

Clean, calm, and mixed with anything that brings me joy. I like to call it Mediterranean eclectic. One of my favorite spaces that captures this aesthetic is La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) in Calpe, Spain. It's a postmodern apartment complex that Ricardo Bofill designed in 1968.

La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) in Calpe, Spain.

Point of View: A favorite story about staying in a hotel?

We stayed at the Dominican Treehouse in Samana, and it was a surprise because I didn't know where we were going. We arrived late at night, and there was no light at all. When we got to our room, there was a gigantic spider in our bed (something I'll never be ready for). I spent the entire night scared, but when I woke up in the morning, I opened the curtains (there are no walls in the hotel) and found myself surrounded by the jungle and all its beauty. My fears about the spider disappeared.

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