Spanish designer Isolina Mallon is a master of creativity across continents. A graduate of Arts & Design School Llotja in Barcelona, she focuses on contemporary and modern designs that craft narratives for their owners. After a decade of designing residences in Madrid, Isolina opened her US firm, Isolina Mallon Interiors, in sunny Menlo Park, California in 2012. Almost eight years later, she has been awarded Best of Houzz awards four times, been featured in the biggest design publications around, and continues to complete projects both in California and her home country, Spain.
A clean, crisp California kitchen featuring some colorful art and a conceptual light. Photo via Konstrukt Photo.
Andrew Joseph: Favorite app?
Isolina Mallon: I love Procreate for the Ipad and Apple pen. I enjoy drawing in my free time and I love experimenting with all types of artistic techniques, without having to buy any materials. I remember how expensive the painting materials were when I was in college in Barcelona. I would’ve loved to have an app like this back then.
Andrew: Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Isolina: After fifteen years working in Madrid and knowing very little English, in 2011, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and started my career over. My experience as a designer and my European portfolio has helped me to start getting projects and clients here. Since then I have been working simultaneously mixing American and European elements in my designs.
Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Isolina: I hope in the near future the design world will be more sustainable. I’d love to see negative environmental impact lessen or be eliminated through intentional, thoughtful design practices.
Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Isolina: Don’t be afraid of learning new things, be curious, and trust you can do anything you set your mind to.
Andrew: A book that everyone should read?
Isolina: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It follows the story of the Buendia family and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”
Mallon chooses a fun and funky centerpiece to hang above the table in this glossy neutral dining room. Photo via Isolina Mallon.
Andrew: What are some of the podcasts you listen to and why?
Isolina: I like The Chaise Lounge, a podcast about the interior design business. It is a good way to hear other professionals speak about everyday problems, what they like, and how they work. I also listen to “Everything is Alive”, it is a silly show that interviews inanimate objects. I also listen to “Disgraceful”, which I recommend if you love true crime and music then get ready to really love this podcast.
Andrew: What would you like to be remembered for?
Isolina: I hope to be remembered for always having worked hard and well. Knowing that I gave my clients and collaborators all of my efforts in each one of my projects.
Andrew: Favorite place to view art?
Isolina: I’m fascinated by The Prado Museum in Madrid, a tiny building compared to the Louvre in Paris or Moma in NY, but still has an excellent art collection. I can spend hours just contemplating the Goya collection. I always need to visit it with someone that will pull me out of there before it’s closing time.
Andrew: Least favorite color?
Isolina: One phrase I always say is, beige people are boring. I understand and encourage the use of neutral colors, but I think the beige is overused. A room decorated in a beige hue is not going to be noteworthy, just neutral enough that nobody hates it. This is a popular motto recently in the design industry.
Andrew: Song you can listen to on repeat?
Isolina: Common People by Pulp. I grew up listening to Britpop and this song has never gotten old. Initially, it appears to be just a wry true-life anecdote: posh girl recruits fellow art student from a humble background as a guide to how the other half lives. But as the pace quickens, the song escalates into an accusatory tirade and how stacked social odds determine life’s outcomes.
About The Designer | Inspired by Mies van der Roche’s German Pavillion at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, Mallon entered the design world. She earned her Interior Architecture and Advertising Arts Degree from Arts & Design School Llotja. Having spent ten years working in architectural and design firms in Madrid, Mallon developed a solid foundation in modern and contemporary design. With this experience, she opened her namesake studio in San Francisco in 2012. Her projects range from the Bay Area to Spain, giving her modern designs a valuable worldly perspective.
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