Apartamento Magazine takes the cold, manicured hedges and immaculately styled homes of most interior design magazines and flips it on its head; the idea for the magazine was born out of Apartamento’s Founder and Director Omar Sosa’s desire to depart from a magazine market that traditionally favors over designed editorials that focuses more on inanimate objects than on the people that uses them. Instead, each issue of Apartamento is an intimate invitation to the homes of some renown creatives and savants—people who both clearly know how to live beautifully and make a living by doing what they love—and it’s in this ability to construct this personal narrative that has captivated readers all around the world. Sosa’s vision for the magazine speaks life into these interiors by focusing on genuine stories on the art of living, wholly embracing the humanity of these spaces. Here, he speaks with us about the events that lead up to the inception of Apartamento, his thoughts on its enduring qualities, and what impact he hopes to achieve with this platform.
Tell us about your childhood. What memories do you have from that time that you feel were especially formative for you, that are still relevant in the present day?
I was always making tents at home, building little fortresses with pillows, boxes, and any available material. I honestly never really played video games and any sports, but preferred to build things. I remember this one time when my parents bought a big TV, I didn’t care about the TV at all, but instead I loved the box that came with it. I made myself a little house, complete with a tiny color TV my grandmother gave me. I remember spending a long time drawing the inside of it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been always obsessed about having and creating my own space.
When you were younger, what did you imagine that you would be doing for a living?
I remember that I was extremely serious about being an inventor. I didn’t fully understand what it meant, but if i think about it nowadays, I guess the definition of ‘designer’ fits pretty well.
What were you doing before Apartamento?
I studied Graphic Design because I love it, but also because it’s one of the design disciplines where you can see the results much faster and you need less infrastructure to complete it. After that, I worked in a studio in Barcelona for 3 years before I founded the magazine with Nacho Alegre and Marco Velardi.
Why was Apartamento created? What inspired it?
It was a series of events, but I remember that during the time I was looking for an apartment—it was right before the economic crisis and my dad wanted to help me buy one. After seeing so many places I couldn’t make up my mind and picture myself in any of them. That’s how I got into interior magazines and eventually realized how uninspiring and cookie-cutter most of them were. During that period I was designing magazines and met with my future business partner, Nacho Alegre, who is a photographer. Nacho and I had similar interests, so we put our minds together and decided that we should start a publication that we would personally like to see on the shelves and buy. The irony is that the economic crisis hit hard in 2008 and I never ended up buying an apartment, but the idea for Apartamento was born.
How did that journey to creating the magazine begin?
After looking obsessively at so many magazines and realizing there was almost nothing that fulfilled my interests or tastes, I started looking at pictures of spaces inhabited by friends living abroad as well as other publications. In some of those publications you could see some pictures of these spaces that looked genuinely ‘lived in’ and were untouched by any stylist, which I felt was more real and inspiring than something really formulaic.
Since I was designing magazines already and Nacho was shooting for them, it was pretty natural to just try and make one. Then Marco Velardi, who lived in Milan at the time as a journalist, joined us and helped us to get outside the Barcelona bubble. We worked for a year on putting together some stories, experimenting with the format, finding cheap printer deals and finally launched the first issue in April 2008.
Did you have any experience in the publishing world before starting the magazine?
I knew how to design a magazine for sure and heard bits and pieces from the directors of the magazines I was designing, but the truth is that I knew very little. But the little that I knew about the publication industry worked in my favor, since I wasn’t struck with enough fear or self-doubt to stop myself from dedicating my life to magazines. So let’s just say that it was accidental.
You began the magazine in 2008, and just two years later Apartamento would go on to win the prestigious Yellow Pencil Award, and was then awarded the best complete magazine of 2010 by the Designers and Art Directors Association (UK). What was that experience like? Did you imagine that you would find so much critical acclaim only two years into it?
Not at all. One piece of proof that will explain how little success I thought the magazine would have is that we didn’t actually run subscriptions until issue three because we were afraid of having to close the magazine and return the money to the subscribers. Winning these awards allowed us to understand that we must have been on the right path. It definitely encouraged us to continue.
What are the three most valuable lessons that you’ve learned throughout the process being at the helm of such a creative enterprise?
Believe in what you do. Trust your intuition. Don’t be short on recognition with the people that you collaborate with.
What is it about your magazine that you personally believe to be some of its most enduring qualities and legacies thus far?
Although we argue a lot between the 3 of us, we always respected each other’s decisions and vision for the different contents of the magazine. It makes for a very eclectic magazine that doesn’t allow one vision but the collaboration of many—I think that this is increasingly more and more important in the world we live today.
What do you believe the relationship is right now between the publishing world and the internet?
How do you think that relationship will evolve?
I think it just started taking shape into something very interesting. Magazines have better quality and more dedicated readers while the digital publishing world is finally investing in making good quality content, specifically thought out and designed for digital consumption and not a weird paper/screen hybrid.
Ultimately, what do you hope to achieve with this platform that you’ve created? Where do you hope it will take you, and what kind of impact do you wish to create with it?
Apartamento has shaped our lives the same way we shaped the magazine and that’s already a big achievement for me. What I mean is that it is so intrinsically ingrained in our lives that even if we all do other things, much of it revolves around the magazine, the printing schedule or the people we met through it.
I personally wish to keep myself enthusiastic about what I do within the magazine, never lose the energy and excitement with each new story we commission and each new issue we send to print.
As a group, even if this sounds very typical, I hope to continue inspiring people and continue expanding the concept and brand of Apartamento to other platforms—like video, design consulting, hospitality, publishing and product design. I wish we could keep collaborating with so many interesting people for so many years in as many areas as possible.
Lastly, talk us through your favorite Apartamento issue.
I love issue number four. This is when I felt the magazine was mature both in design and content. I remember I felt a satisfying feeling of uneasiness when I saw the first dummy printed, that weird illustrated cover of a bourgeois bedroom together with the patterned spine, the small format... I thought it looked so weird, especially for an interior magazine!
Photography by Matthew Priestley
Omar Sosa was photographed in New York.