Hailing from a small village near Naples, Alfredo Cirelli moved to San Remo at the age of three, where he completed high school before finishing studies in architecture and industrial design in Genova. A degree in hotel design in Milan capped Alfredo’s academic life and he started his career hopping from one role to another between Milan, San Remo, Côte d’Azur, Nice and Monte Carlo. As he progressed in his profession, he was recruited by some of the top fashion brands in Italy to design stores, trade show booths and events while simultaneously keeping up with his private clients as an architect and interior designer. His job has taken him all over Europe. Now, he calls Ibiza home where this design polymath’s obsessions fit perfectly into the Blasktad Design Consultants ethos.
What or who inspired you to pursue architecture and design?
My uncle is an architect and I grew up around him and his tools. I was always watching him work and asking him questions. I was the kind of kid who was always drawing, pulling things apart, putting them together again and building things. Luckily, I went to a technical high school where you could study these kinds of things. It’s like a step towards your career and I was raised to think it was a very natural progression for me. I don’t remember thinking I would ever be anything else.
What brought you to Ibiza?
I went through a difficult divorce and wanted to change my life, so I came to Ibiza. I had been coming here for years on holiday and had done a little bit of work here with a few fashion stores and private homes. I wanted something new so I came here to see how things could be for me in Ibiza. And then I met Rolf.
How did you end up working at Blakstad Design Consultants?
I had been sending a few CVs across the island, but nobody answered. At that point, I had everything packed to go back to Italy because I was couldn’t find work here. But then, the Blakstad office contacted me and that such a well-known practice would take notice was amazing. I came in for an interview. And at the end of the interview, Rolf and I left together and went straight to a building site. I started work within minutes of finishing the interview! Now, I’ve been here for five years and I love it.
What is your main focus at Blakstad?
I’m mostly involved in renovations. I have always been interested in reforms, like in Italy, where there are less new builds than there are renovations and reforms. I came here and I already had a lot of this experience with that way of working. It’s always been a speciality of mine.
What is it about renovations and reforms that attracts you?
I like that there is already a structure and base from which you have to find ways to transform it or give it a new life. For me, that’s really fun. I like the challenge of it. Above all, when I’m lucky, I get to do a renovation on an original Blakstad house.
What do you find challenging?
The challenges are obviously the paperwork! Living on an island makes everything more expensive, so the hardest thing to achieve is to reach your design goal while staying mindful of the costs. You need to create what the client desires with an eye on their pockets. You want to get to the end and hear the owners say they have added value to their property. It’s not just about saying it looks beautiful but also that it was a good investment. That is part of our work as well, not just design.
What do you love about your job?
I love working here. I have a lot of autonomy. I look after my own clients. Always under Rolf’s vision of course, but I have total autonomy. The atmosphere is very friendly, we all get on very well. I’ve never had a single problem – not with a client nor a colleague. I really enjoy it. When I start to design, I’ve already got the idea and the solutions in mind because I do a lot of thinking before I put anything to paper. I love the Blakstad style and when I first started here, I put a lot of time into studying the history and understanding the design as well as the changes in the style over the years.
How do you spend your free time?
Free time is a strange concept when you live with a five-year-old. My free time is dictated by my daughter! My grown-up children in Italy come to visit a lot. My partner is an art historian, so art and design are a big feature of our lives. But honestly, I am always working, even when it looks like I am just staring into space. Of course, we enjoy Ibiza, the beaches, the restaurants and all of that. But really, I do not have free time – all my time is dedicated to my profession. I will always have things going on, always looking, always thinking. I cannot be different; this is my character since childhood. This is who I am.
What does architecture mean to you?
That’s a big question! I think it can mess you up to think about it too much. You can ask about so many things such as how do people conform to a dwelling? I think that part of design is about psychology. It’s social. I think architecture is life. Without it you can’t go anywhere, you can’t know humanity.