Artist and Architect Ana D’Castro On The Connection Between Art And Happiness

4 min read
Ana wears a Valentino dress paired with her own shoes and jewellery

Architect and visual artist Ana D’Castro flawlessly fuses contemporary design with the natural world to create a vision of global living in the heart of Dubai

Portuguese-born Ana D’Castro’s first love was art, a path she nurtured through her design-school days at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Porto, Portugal, followed by a stint at the award-winning German firm Herzog & De Meuron, which saw her working on projects such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the São Paulo Cultural Complex. That experience instilled a deep commitment to eliminating the threshold between art and architecture in her works while working across multiple disciplines, including street-art installations, painting, interior design and architecture. Not only are her projects a celebration of the arts, she is often commissioned to create site-specific works that tie the design concept in neatly.

Art and Architecture

“ I want to keep a light and colourful spirit,” D’Castro describes her home in Dubai’s Green Community

D’Castro tells us about how she learnt to paint from her grandfather who was a painter, so an artistic setup has always been familiar to her. This, together with being exposed to nature and educated to appreciate the pure and simple beauty of what surrounds her has inherently impacted her creations. “I remember going for outdoor adventures with my father, who profoundly embedded into us the love for nature,” teaching her to see the world as a magic place, to look into details, such as the back of a leaf, the water’s movement over a stream’s stones, the sky and the unlimited shapes the clouds can turn into. “It was really this outlook that changed my perception of the world around me and allowed me to create my own repertoire of imagery.”

Now based in the UAE following stints in Switzerland, Brazil, Paris, and Singapore, home is the Green Community due to its lush surroundings and immense green park. “It plays a fundamental role in my life. At sunrise, around 5.30am, I walk for an hour and half in the park, feeding my soul and my eyes with the most beautiful light cast over the trees,” D’Castro shares. As we step inside her villa, which has been designed to resemble an art gallery with industrial finishes such as concrete walls and flooring, free of enclosing walls, the artwork truly stands out. Although minimalistic, it is bursting with light and colour and an energy that she has always been conscious to maintain, “I want to keep a light and colourful spirit.”

Ana D'Castro

Ana has turned her Dubai home into an art gallery

Commenting on the Dubai design scene, D’Castro believes that the UAE is like, “America in the early 19 century, the land of opportunity.” Encouraged by it capacity for fostering dreams and visions, she explains, “It’s a place where all the setup is done to achieve results, from the economics point of view to the resources available.” A testament to her drive as an architect and visual artist, the Covid-19 pandemic did not cause any setbacks and instead came to D’Castro as a blessing, forcing her to slow down and embrace her fears and anxieties. “It was really liberating – throughout the whole process I found happiness, reassurance and something that kept me grounded.” It is with this attitude that D’Castro has also turned to philanthropic projects, currently working on a pilot project that focuses on how children express themselves through large abstract paintings, directing their emotions through colours and textures. Ultimately, this sums up how she believes that art brings happiness, with the vibrant strokes dancing on the canvas. “The world as we see it now is filled with negativity, pain and suffering, and I deeply hope that my paintings inject energy and a refreshed sense of hope that the world we live in is still beautiful and life is a gift.”

The Style

Working style…

It´s a messy area, so I wear clothes like an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Weekend style…

Relaxed, so it often comprises of denim shorts, boots and a shirt.

Go-to brands…

Sandro, Maje, Dior, Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana.

Most treasured piece…

My grandmother’s wedding dress.

Favourite place to shop…

Brazil. The colours, patterns and flow of the pieces are incredible.

Favourite regional designers…

Ashi Studio for the architectural pieces and stunning colours.

Style motto…

I dress according to my mood, so it can really vary from super colourful to more monochromatic tones. Elegance above all is key, and I never reveal too much skin.

Photography: Ausra Osipaviciute | Styling: Jade Chilton

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  • Words by Eliza Scarborough