BOLD and sophisticated, the Peruvian ambassador’s residence in Beijing’s Sanlitun Diplomatic Residence Compound takes a novel approach to using color.
From the moment you step in, the eyes are drawn to the lush green and impressive Cusco school of paintings in the foyer. Peruvian ambassador to China Gonzalo Gutierrez said he wanted to create the feeling of a tropical garden rather than a plain-looking room.
Gutierrez is the 14th Peruvian ambassador to live in the residence since 1972, when China established diplomatic relations with Peru. Two apartments have been joined to create a large living space where the ambassador can welcome guests in a pleasant and appropriate manner.
The 700-square-meter residence was also designed to allow official functions to be conducted without disrupting or overlapping on private life.
Gutierrez moved to the residence in 2011. Most of the furniture came with the residence, but the ambassador added his own touches to the existing space. Despite the residence’s grand proportions, he was able to establish visual order.
The secret to this warm and welcoming diplomatic home was to respect what was there while showcasing his personal taste to strike a balance.
He changed the rather neutral wall colors to red and yellow, signature hues used in many colonial homes in Lima, the capital of Peru.
In addition to being warm and welcoming, the residence must also showcase Peru design and art so guests are left with an impression of what the country’s artists and designers are capable of.
“All the paintings you see around the house belong to me and we try to display modern art from Peru, some of which has been created by very famous Peruvian artists,” Gutierrez said.
Each piece has been carefully selected from Gutierrez’s personal art collection. He loves what’s honest and real and tries as much as possible to avoid the purely decorative. Modern art pieces are interspersed with antiques and rather simple furnishings. He said he wanted to achieve harmony between the interior, the furnishings, the art and the antiques.
“It’s my mission to show Peruvian modern art as most of the artists are not well known here in China,” Gutierrez said. “What happens in Peru in art is similar to what happens here. We have new trends, new experiences and new views in different art forms and what we need now is to make them more popular around the world.
“We try every year to bring at least one or two Peruvian artists to display their works at exhibitions in China.”
In addition to making people aware of how many talented artists Peru has to offer, the rooms create an opportunity for a moment of shared enjoyment.
“I have been collecting art for a long time. Art is important in a home, but ‘less important’ pieces can have an emotional impact on me and they get an even more important place in my house,” he added.
His favorite function room is the relatively small, cozy meeting room, bathed in sunlight by day and candle or dim light by night. Prints and maps of Peru decorate the white walls while a 1920s Peruvian diplomatic uniform is placed in the corner. It’s easy for Gutierrez to create an intimate vibe here. He loves entertaining close friends and interesting guests in this room as it’s conducive to good conversations over glasses of pisco sour or nice Peruvian wine.
Gutierrez says only 700 Peruvians live in China. The backbone of relations between the countries is trade and China was Peru’s second biggest trading partner last year.
“However, we would like to increase activities between the two in culture, art and tourism,” added the ambassador.