Student Spotlight: Maria Alcazar

On 7th March 2023, homes all around Ireland were treated to an inside view of the beautifully innovative and colourful design of one of the Interior Design Academy of Ireland’s (IDAI) students, Maria Alcazar.

“Home of the Year" is a television series on RTE, Ireland’s national broadcasting station, that brings viewers inside the most interesting and beautiful homes around Ireland before the esteemed judging panel finally crown a winner. Initially Maria had no intention of entering the competition, but it was the eagle eye of an RTE researcher who spotted her design on Instagram and quickly expressed their eagerness to include Maria’s home on the show. 

Maria works full-time as a Customer Experience Program Director in a large IT company. Although she says she never really thought of herself as a particularly creative person, she would find herself again and again, drawn to more artistic and creative avenues. What she did know was that deep down, something was missing. It wasn’t long, however, before that inner creative voice would become impossible to ignore and Maria would begin her pursuit of a creative outlet. It all began at home. It was only during the last few years when Maria began remodeling her kitchen and bathroom that she began to realize that she was receiving compliments and encouragement from friends and family.

Whether or not she was actively seeking a creative life, it was seeking her. 

In 2001 she bought her apartment, but it wasn’t until her daughter was old enough for the toys to permanently vacate their living space, that Maria began to really explore the design opportunities in her home.  Inspiration came from browsing Pinterest and watching Home of the Year, never thinking her own home would eventually be featured on the show. Then came lockdown and with it came working from home. With the itch to do something with her time and the restriction of being forced to stay at home, Maria began thinking of a redesign.  

It was when she first took on her bathroom and kitchen remodel that the world of interior design began to open up to her. These two rooms are the most functional and generally most central to any home. Designing a kitchen is a rite of passage for any interior designer and for Maria, it was the beginning of a new awakening. She had a thirst for design knowledge and wanted more.  She began with the Interior Design Academy of Ireland’s Certificate course and soon learned that she indeed had a flair for design and a passion to know more. Maria is currently in her second year of the IDAI Diploma course.  

Maria’s beautifully colourful home is full of personality and charm with hints of Barcelona’s Gaudi influence subtly emanating from the walls. Ireland is still relatively new to apartment living but for Maria and her Catalan background, this was nothing new.  Maria’s apartment is a double open duplex and the design that caught the eye of RTE’s Home of the Year team began with a hot pink wall. She always liked colour and although pink was possibly her least favorite choice, the wall began to take on a life of its own. It was upon that magical wall that everything else in her stunning home would follow. 

In the Academy, Maria is learning about the balance of creating something from her own heart while tending to the needs and styles of a client’s brief. She is astute enough to understand how to manage the parity of these skills, which has also helped her to expand her own personal taste and approach.

Maria is currently knee deep in personal project number 2, which is a second home in Sitges, Barcelona.  This project may be another personal endeavour, but the approach and style could not be more different to her Dublin home. The climate, lifestyle, and details such as the Spanish sunlight have a profound influence on how to view a space. On this project Maria has a very different colour palette and is gravitating towards more neutral tones and natural materials such as rattan and linen. As her learning expands, so too do her design horizons.

Having her home on a television program that is watched by a nation and judged by professionals has been a confidence booster but has also taught her the value of feedback. All these things, combined with her studies, are the building blocks of a great designer. Maria is intent on finishing the diploma. When the time is right, she will call upon her management skills before she explores new opportunities and sees where interior design will take her. The television show was a great opportunity to show the nation what she is capable of, but Maria is acutely aware that there is no fast track to professional success.  

The nation caught a glimpse of her talents but once she has graduated - watch this space!

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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