Stills from home — in conversation with Ana Barros
A good while ago, in the very early days of Instagram, Ana Sampaio Barros, Vienna-based architect and photographer, established her social media presence. By being creative and posting consistently, she gained a community of over 300k followers, becoming one of the first influencers in Europe.
>Today, still a keen photographer, she’s also a co-founder of a creative agency and a mother of little Alma – her proudest creation and adventure so far, as she puts it.
Take a step into Ana’s exceptional apartment where their place found noo.ma’s Bau Sideboard and Folk Pouf. Her home is a labor of love created with sensitivity to detail and passion for architecture and design. Get to know how motherhood brought colors to her rooms and what are the links between architect’s and influencer’s ways of working.
First off: big congratulations on your new apartment! After years of being on the go and living in several different countries, it must be an incredible feeling being settled in your own nest. Could you say a few words about this place? Do you already feel like home?
Thank you! I do indeed. I moved around a lot, I travelled so much between 2014 and 2018 that at one point I actually rented a 28m² apartment in Vienna that resembled a hotel room. It was all I needed – I felt home in hotels. It slowly changed when I moved together with my boyfriend. In January 2020 I got pregnant, the first COVID-19 lockdown was in March and the two things combined created a very intuitive need for nesting, both for me and my partner.
We started thinking about our apartment and began working on it on a weekly basis. Before Alma was born we had a home and it felt so good. We stayed there for two years: we loved our first apartment, and it was great for us as a couple, but we were not very happy with its location (it was very noisy), so we started searching for something better. Without much hurry or pressure, we found something that felt right: a bright, spacious apartment in a beautiful and quiet location.
What was your approach to decorating your apartment? What did inspire you?
As an architect, I always had a very minimalistic approach to interior design. I used to prefer spaces that were monochrome, and I usually used the base essentials to create simple and uncluttered spaces. Even with my closet I was very strict: I used to wear mostly black clothes and all my socks were from the same brand because I couldn’t bare searching for pairs.
This is another thing that changed drastically when I got pregnant: I didn’t feel comfortable in black anymore because I wanted my daughter Alma to see color, lots of color! The same thinking process was behind our decisions when it comes to decorating our apartment: splashes of color here and there, and instinctively we chose earthy tones such as Burgundy, Olive, Sand, or Rustorange.
In general, I still like visually calm and decluttered spaces. We tend to choose white, light beige or simple wood for elements that have a heavier presence in the apartment, like a sideboard or a couch, and use color in smaller details. When it comes to materials or shapes, I follow Sullivan’s famous axiom form follows function. It refers to architecture, but I use it for almost all my life choices, sometimes being a bit too radical, because I love brutalism.
I really appreciate noo.ma with its small but very well curated collection. It shows a lot of attention to detail which is reflected in every aspect.
Ana Barros, architect and photographer
Could you tell us if there’s a tie between your work experience and being an after-hours influencer?
Well, I myself sometimes doubted if there was any sort of connection between the two but then I realized I was very much using architectural modular and systemic approach to how I manage content production projects or how I photograph, how I think about composition and how I play with natural light in my work. It is all very much connected with my architectural background.
Recently, the style of your photography has changed — on your Instagram you started publishing beautiful visual memoirs of your motherhood and family life, stills from home: more personal content. Do you think your relationship with Instagram community has changed as well?
The relationship between my followers and what I post is not always easy. When working as a freelancer, I would publish posts on brand collaborations, and their performance was very important, sometimes of the highest priority. Because of that, not everything I posted was to my liking, but I knew it was giving the effects I was after. Such a situation made me slightly insecure and I took a break from it. For over a year I was posting only stories, expressing what I was up to as a creative director. It was an experiment and it felt very liberating.
I think the real change came when my boyfriend bought an analogue camera. We took it with us on holidays and back home we developed our first film. Those were and still are one my favorite pictures ever.
Ana Barros, architect and photographer
I think the real change came when my boyfriend bought an analogue camera. We took it with us on holidays and back home we developed our first film. Those were and still are one my favorite pictures ever: some of them are blurry, some sharp, but all are beautiful. I started posting those memories together with some snippets of my life captured with my phone and I simply stopped carrying my professional camera around. The results? Much more honest and personal visual notes of my life. They became a kind of my visual diary and they made me enjoy posting again.