With just over 25 years of career, Rebecca Leon was driven by her parents, although without any imposition, to have architecture and interior design as her main work. With a very subtle and unique color palette, it creates spaces for those looking for tranquility to live or spend their holidays. Before, she thought of being a scenographer, but it was designing and decorating shop windows that she realized that the balance of pieces and colors would be her life goal.
Twenty-five years later, how would you characterize your work?
With the growth of the atelier, it made sense for us to start developing projects from scratch, that is, architecture, interior design, and decoration, so that the end customer would find the complete package in the same atelier. In this sense, we ended up focusing more on architecture and interior architecture, obviously maintaining interior design and decoration, which turns out to be a natural complement to the realization of a space. Our team is made up of architects and interior designers precisely to respond to all types of projects, whether from scratch or just decoration.
Did you do a lot of work with your parents?
Yes, we have done many projects together. We had a partnership that worked quite well despite the age difference. My father, Francis Leon, was an architect, my mother, Gabriela Leon, an interior designer, very bold for the time, and I, from a very early age, still a girl, accompanied them in the works they designed. However, when I turned 20, I wanted to follow a parallel path, always related to the arts, but directed towards fashion. The goal was not to become a fashion designer, but to create sets for fashion productions and model shows.
Were you taking any courses at that time?
Yes, I took several courses, Window Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Audiovisuals, but when I finished the Window Design course, I was invited by Frederico Abecassis, the master franchiser of the KA International brand in Portugal, to head up the image department of brand. There were about sixteen stores from north to south of the country and islands, and my role was not only to coordinate the entire image and decoration department of the stores, but also to develop projects for new stores, shop windows and furniture.
Later you start working with your parents?
It made sense to me to be part of my parents’ history and build something of our own, a kind of family business, my father in architecture, my mother and I in interior design and decoration. This business model worked for many years. We develop different types of projects, from private homes to restaurants, commercial spaces, and hotels, including Porto de Santa Maria and Faroleiro restaurants in Guincho, Pastelaria Garrett, in Estoril, and Loja das Meias and Farmácia de Birre, in Cascais.
At a certain point, you decide to fly solo.
Yes, in 2007, I followed a new and independent route by opening the Rebecca Leon Interiors atelier, but always maintaining our active partnership and the partnership that I still have with my mother today. We had some ongoing projects, which had to continue, and the objective, when creating my identity, was never to give up what we had already built. I realized that continuing both businesses in parallel would be an asset.
How was your interaction with your father?
He was without a doubt the best professor of architecture I could have had, so much so that I didn’t even take the course. Despite not being a “paper-backed” architect, thanks to him and the great school I always had with him, today I know what each construction or remodeling needs. We built my house together; it was my biggest challenge. My goal was to build a house designed by him and I succeeded.
How can we define the Rebecca Leon style?
I believe that my style is defined by the contemporary approach to the line combined with the materials implemented in each project. The finishes and textures with organic materials, a neutral and monochromatic color palette, with wood and natural stones in contrast reveal a lot of my identity. The natural light, low and intimate, and whenever possible the connection between the exterior and the interior. Bright colors and high contrasts are not part of our brand image. In terms of lines, this one is contemporary, however, if the project is a rehabilitation in Baixa Pombalina, where, by the way, we have a lot of work done, we make the most of the building’s lines. Buildings have their soul and their history, and this must be preserved.
What are the most relevant works that you can mention?
In addition to the partnership of many years with the André Jordan Group, the Prime Lisbon Group, Marquês Valley, and Wanted Real Estate, we are currently working on various types of private projects and beyond, which is a challenge for us. We have a guest house in São Luís that is under construction, a rural hotel in the Santiago do Cacém area, two hills in the Cercal area, a rehabilitation of an emblematic building on Calçada da Estrela in Lisbon, a townhouse in Porto, villas private among others. We are also studying the possibility of an online store with furniture designed by the studio and other imported pieces. I think it’s important because it allows you to reach a larger number of people/clients. Those who like our design, and our pieces can find them through the store without necessarily having to order a project; turns out to be a complement to our business.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration is everywhere. Just open your eyes. It can be on a trip, in a movie, in places, people, books… even a new color palette for a future project can come out of a model change.