Life & Leisure

The pandemic changed our lives and our idea of home, says Santiago Bernal

Ana Mengotti

Miami, Nov 17 (EFE).- The pandemic has changed our way of life and has forced us to see our homes as a space that needs to promote a sense of “well-being and harmony” and not only “beauty or elegance,” internationally renowned designer Santiago Bernal told Efe in an interview at his Miami studio.

“The use of space is much more important than when we were mostly at home alone at night or at certain times on some days of the week.” COVID-19 has sparked a need to “redesign and recondition spaces,” explained Bernal, whose career spans more than 20 years.

Bernal’s signature designs fashion the homes of stars, politicians and businessmen from his native Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America, the United States, Europe and Persian Gulf countries.

Bernal says movies and television have helped promote the value of interior design and he is looking forward to his next foray into the world of popular TV shows that demonstrate how a living space can be completely changed, but with a twist that includes a “duel” between designers.


On a huge property in New York State he applies his ideas about the new human habitat. Showing the “before” and “after” without any further explanation, leaving interior design cynics speechless.

In the post-pandemic world, our private “paradises,” whether they are mansions or luxury flats like those owned by Bernal’s clients — whom he cannot name due to a confidentiality — now need spaces to study, work and exercise.

Screens, partitions or sliding walls and doors, everything that makes it possible to divide temporary spaces and create corners are becoming more and more popular elements in post-pandemic interior design, Bernal explains.

So are antibacterial materials, such as brass, copper, bronze, bamboo, or oak, that satisfy the desire for “healthy spaces.”

Living in the United States for more than two decades, Bernal mentions that another of the current trends in decoration is bringing elements from the outside to the interior of the homes.

It can be done in a real way, with plants or rocks, for example, or simply by evoking the elements of nature with pictures, photographs, fabrics, papers or objects, to benefit from the “peace and well-being” that they offer us.

They are the so-called biophilic designs, a trend present before the pandemic but accentuated after a year of confinements and quarantines. Natural materials, such as wool, cotton, wood or stones, and quality lighting are rising in value.

“From now on well-being, physical and mental health and respect for nature and the environment will have more relevance in our work and a more powerful voice,” Bernal wrote in a text in which he explains the changes that the pandemic has caused in his work.


The designer is someone who has a knowledge of his clients that one could describe as “intimate,” Bernal notes.

From his work he knows if a married couple sleeps together or separately, if food is important to a family or even if the owner of the house spends time in the bathroom and how that time is spent, he said, without revealing his clients’ secrets.

Bernal adds that the designer also has to act as a “psychologist,” advise and listen a lot to those who put something as important as the design of their home in his hands and also respect their tastes and adapt to their religious beliefs.

Interior design has changed “a lot” in recent years and today the “tyrant” who “dictated rules” without worrying about understanding his client is inconceivable, he says.

“We have become much more directors of the aesthetic and functional part,” he said.

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