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Joao Botelho

An interview with interior designer Joao Botelho.

February, 2022

We take a look inside Interior Designer Joao Botelho’s East London showroom flat. Combining his love for art deco design and experience working for Donna Karan New York, Joao talks us through Casa Botelho signature style and how it developed into his first furniture collection. From bespoke beds, to coordinated dog beds, Joao connects the dots with symmetry and sophistication. A showroom that’s also your home? How inspiring.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be involved in interior design?

I was born in Belo-Horizonte, Brazil and began a 22-year-long career in global luxury working with a prestigious Brazilian company. It was in 1994 I moved to London and continued my work in fashion, for 16 years, as Managing Director for Donna Karan New York. Donna Karan loved homeware too, her houses were beautiful and I was often also involved in the visual merchandising of her stores. These experiences inspired me to explore the different side to my creativity. In 2016, I made what felt like a natural transition from fashion to interior design.

I have always had an eye for styling. Since a young age, I have loved to make my bed nice and there to be coordination in a room. I like symmetry. Whether it be through colours, materials, heights or dimensions, the pieces have to talk to one another. It is the same when you are getting dressed or choosing an outfit.

Your debut luxury furniture range launched back in 2016, tell us how this came about and why you decided to design your own products?

Whilst completely redesigning my four-storey townhouse in Hackney, I worked very closely with local contractors, architects and designers to develop bespoke elements, like the Black Wenge Kitchen and the concrete sink. or the driftwood staircase. I found there was a gap in the market for beautiful designs that lift spirits and can fit perfectly with people’s homes. The need for ‘Your world is my world’ bespokeness became the foundation for Casa Botelho.

I first made some petite tables as I couldn't find any that mirrored the design elements of my bespoke creations or were the right size for the space.. These were part of my debut Martini Collection, created for entertaining. I made six designs, each named after a martini cocktail, with their own shape, attitude and personality.

Here at Beddable, we value quality design for great sleep, we’d love to hear more about the Cupid Bed.

The Cupid Bed is grand in structure and seductive in appearance. It has a lot of contrasting elements that work to create something unique and desirable. It can come with integrated bedside tables, topped in Marble, antique mirror or jesmonite tiles , as well as a wrap-around headboard, upholstered in suede and velvet. It is this almost wing-like element that cocoons you, making the bed an inviting, sensual space.

What do you look for when choosing your bedding?

The bedroom is a sanctuary. A space where you should feel calm and comfortable. So generally, I look for soft cotton bedding that not only feels good against my skin, but is also breathable, as I hate to feel warm in bed. The colours or patterns also need to be soothing, whilst working well with my aesthetic.

How would you describe Casa Botelho style?

‘Masculine Glamour’ is Casa Botelho’s signature style. It’s a mix of industrial and art deco, that blends moody tones, rich textures and symmetrical design.

There is a lot of detail, with different embellishments and luxe materials like wood, brass, marble and suede. This idea of marrying beautiful materials and finishes together brings an attitude of sophistication. We use a hashtag #itmakesyourheartbeatfaster. It was actually from a client that wrote, I am so in love with how your furniture looks and feels, it makes my heart beat faster.

You were born in Brazil and are extensively well-travelled, why did you choose London as your home?

I initially wanted to go to New York, but in 1994 it was difficult for Brazilians to get visas to travel to the USA. After applying a few times without luck, I decided it wasn't meant to be. I really wanted to learn how to speak English, so England was my next choice. One that I am grateful for.

Are there any interiors in London you find particularly inspiring?

I love walking around London as everyday I discover something new. Sometimes I think ‘Wow, I have been here for 26 years, how have I not seen this before?’. The architecture in the city is so exceptional. It is traditional, in one sense, with so much history, but also timeless. Another one of Casa Botelho hashtags is #furnituremadetolastforever. I would like to think that my pieces will pass from generation to generation and still be admired in many years to come.

Your iconic East London townhouse was your first design project. What is it like to live in a home that’s also a showroom?

I loved every minute of it. I was surrounded by beauty, style, and timeless designs. The ground floor was my favourite; every space was unique, with different zones across one large main living space. The garden was an extension of the main living space where I used to both entertain and hold business meetings. I would run a team of 100 people at Donna Karan so working from home felt like an extended holiday and it allowed me to spend time with my dogs and enjoy a less stressful corporate lifestyle.

Deep dive into this home. Could you tell us about some of the key elements that are signature to Casa Botelho style?

I absolutely adore this space. I used to run in and around Victoria Park and see this building. I wondered what it would be like inside. From the moment after selling the townhouse, this was the first place looked for online and found. Fate! I called the agent, he gave me a viewing and I said yes, I want it. It really was meant to be.

The flat has its own industrial elements, like the brickwork, concrete floors and huge wooden pillars that give a New York loft feel. This is very signature to Casa Botelho style; the building’s own structures compliment the furnishings of the space. Considering the architecture is really important, when working with clients to design interiors, bespoke to them.

Where is it you like to shop for the touches to your interiors?

I like to work closely with artists to source artworks for the room. All of the canvases I have here are from an artist in Brazil called Manuel Berson. I also have a lot of Thomas Zanon-Larcher , a fashion photographer and friend of mine. Since I come from fashion, I do like to call upon friends I used to work with; I like incorporating their work through collaboration. It’s all about where fashion meets interiors

We know you love your beautiful dog Oscar; how do you go about making your home, his home?

It is definitely his home. Oscar is my life and he is allowed anywhere at any time, including jumping into bed and sleeping with me. Making the flat work for him is all about having space. Being an active dog, having room to play is something I had to take into consideration when designing the layout. The fluidity of the flat, where one room leads to the next, allows Oscar to have freedom of movement. Though, he often sits next to me and joins any zoom calls I have during the day.

How did you choose a dog bed? Does he have his own Casa Botelho throne?

A dog bed has to be cool and comfortable but also low maintenance, as you have to think about washing it. His bed is from Mutts & Hounds. It is a pillow bed, in a natural palette with green tassels around the edges. This element of detail I really like. Plus, I am obsessed with green! It represents hope, freedom, health and vitality. I tend to inject green into my interiors through furniture designs and plants. Lots of plants! Adding a touch of green with Oscar's throne was therefore the right fit to go with the rest of my space.

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