Alejandra Alonso Rojas doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. In fact, pop in on the New York–based Spanish fashion designer one weekend and you might just find her in the kitchen, arms deep in a natural dye bath, with strips of dipped fabrics hanging to dry.
“I dyed my entire 300-piece pre-fall collection here,” says the designer of the now on-sale pieces which mix slinky, dip-dyed silk slip dresses with her signature knits. It’s an eye-popping mental image considering her two-bedroom family home in Nolita is slicked in an invigorating shade of pink she likens to the cascades of bougainvillea in her native Spain.
“I saw this space as a blank canvas—a new beginning,” the designer says of the home, which she moved into the summer of 2020, after living for a decade in the one-bedroom apartment where she started her business. She and her husband, Alejandro, had their son, Alonso, in 2019, and they were ready to scale up. In the thick of the pandemic, decorating a new home bit by bit became a much-needed creative outlet for Rojas. “I really wanted to make something bold and colorful—I think that’s what I needed,” she explains. “I had this vision of a pink space.”
She didn’t hire an interior designer but sought help in what felt like a more critical domain—color—bringing on Martin Kesselman, a color strategist, to advise on her selections. To bring architectural unity to the soaring loft space, they decided to go for it with a vibrant pink, using Farrow & Ball’s shape-shifting Lake Red in an allover treatment across walls, ceilings, cabinets, and moldings.
“Carrying the color onto the ceiling and onto the skirtings and generally using more of it actually makes it feel less bold than if you had a contrast in color or a complimentary color alongside it,” Kesselman explains. “The idea was to create something vibrant that also had a warmth to it. We didn’t want it to be so bold that it was not livable.”
Alonso Rojas’s review? “It’s very soothing,” says the designer, who set to work decorating, starting with an art collection she has slowly built over the years. A diptyque she commissioned from artist-friend Philippine de Richemont (they’re collaborating on patterns for her spring/summer 2023 collection) hangs over the couch. Lithographs by Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Spanish poet Rafael Alberti can be spotted throughout. One of her own printed jacquard fabrics featuring nude female silhouettes in pink—a scaled-up version of a watercolor—hangs like a painting in the mix.
The furniture was a combination of things she’d had—the Eero Saarinen dining table, Pierre Cardin for Roche Bobois chairs, and the curving sofa she designed and upholstered in leftover shearling from an old collection—and new finds. She scored a cult-favorite Togo sofa, which she recovered in a red bouclé to pop against the pink walls. She commissioned a nearly matching cherry red armchair from French designer Laura Gonzalez which pulls up to a small desk. Some pieces from her last place found new purposes, like the 18th-century Japanese tea table that once served as her son’s arts and crafts surface now sits in the living room, endearingly updated with traces of Alonso’s painting.
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This apartment was not only a place to play with color, but also a new canvas for something else she’d been experimenting with: wallpaper and fabric design. “I’m a fashion designer, but I’m also a textile designer—I’m a colorist,” explains Rojas, who had created a wallpaper for her son’s room in their last apartment and wanted to expand on that idea in this home. Starting with her fall/winter 2020 collection, Rojas had created floral patterns by painstakingly applying rose petals, rose leaves, and eucalyptus leaves to silk. “I loved the colors and patterns so much I had to use them in my home,” she explains of the technique which she has translated into fabrics (used on the cushions of the window bench) and wallpapers, one of which envelops the primary bedroom. Here, she and Kesselman created another color statement, using Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow on the ceiling—a compliment to the wallpaper’s rich ochre ground.
In Alonso’s room, a horse-printed paper—derived from a watercolor she created for her 2019 collection, when she was pregnant with him—covers the walls. Since she knew the door to this kid’s room would often be left open, she wanted to design it in a way that would feel on par, designwise, with the rest of the house. Framed in the doorway are Knoll chairs, a West Elm table, a Donald Judd–esque low-lying Montessori bed, and lithographs by the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti.
“I think that was the hardest room, but the one that I had the most fun with,” Alonso Rojas says. Alonso is pleased. Whenever the family escapes from the city, he has a common refrain: “When are we going back to the pink house?”