Tailor-made and timeless interiors in Washington DC & worldwide, Caribe Casual Interiors is a luxury design house devoted to honoring the past to shape the future of our spaces
I am a Puerto Rican interior designer and owner of Caribe Casual Shop on Etsy, currently living in the Washington DC area. I design and furnish interiors using mid-century modern or otherwise vintage items that I also sell in the shop. I feature items and designs from across the world, including immigrant and minority small business owners. Being from PR, that can often feel like an immigrant lifestyle. So I support them. Locate small immigrant owned businesses to shop at.
I studied interior design in Puerto Rico and then started designing residential and retail interiors, like Café Cuatro Sombras in Old San Juan, and La Doña Mexican Kitchen in Guaynabo. My primary residence is in the DC area but I travel to design spaces throughout the US and Puerto Rico.
Caribe Casual’s practice is inspired by the history of design; referencing what has been while looking toward what will be. We respect the style of yesterday by expertly weaving it into the spaces of tomorrow. We are passionate collectors of vintage, with a commitment to the quality, forms, and materials of the past. For our design projects, we are actively engaged in supporting sustainable brands, small businesses and shopping local. We have worked with clients from across the USA, from Vermont to Puerto Rico.
I grew up in midcentury Puerto Rico and some of my earliest, fondest memories are of my mother decorating our home with intentionally selected items. (Picture a suburban middle-class terrazzo floored house, rattan furniture, grasscloth-covered walls). We were not wealthy, but mother set a budget to make sure our spaces were well designed, tidy, and stylish. Surely, being surrounded by designed spaces influenced my career choice of Interior Design and my interest in modernism, furniture, and pottery.
While scavenging thrift stores in Puerto Rico I discovered the work of Isla del Sol, a pottery workshop that existed in the town of Carolina (1962-1975). The obscure shop created pottery in neutral tones and modern patterns that remind me of the modern California pottery movement (David Cressey, Robert Maxwell).
I was drawn to the pieces, so I researched the history of the workshop, surprisingly unknown in Puerto Rico and abroad.
The workshop was part of a government-led initiative to train skilled workers and create jobs through Governor Luis Muñoz Marin’s Operación Serenidad. Then, as luck and Puerto Ricans would have it, the young trained potters turned out to be especially talented, and Isla del Sol pieces were exhibited and sold worldwide.
I and my partner have collected a large number of planters, vases, plates, and lamps. I have also put together a catalog with the pieces’ history and an inventory of the designs produced. I want to share the collection with other Puerto Ricans by bringing it to the Island and exhibiting it in a venue. Spreading the knowledge about this important workshop and paying tribute to the hands that worked there will inspire other Puerto Ricans to set forth local productions, and serve as a source of well-merited pride for all of us on the Island and abroad.