Spanish Design Ethnicity

A unique blend of Renaissance and Moorish design.

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Spain’s Islamic heritage began with the Moors. Its Islamic heritage helped to shape its history, culture, and design. For 800 years, the Moors and Christians struggled for dominance. By the 15th century, Christians had conquered the most territory and drove most of the Moors out. Spain’s present borders came about in the late 15th century.

In 1588, the English defeated the Spanish Armada, and brought an end to Spanish domination. Political ties with Italy brought the renaissance to Spain in the late 15th century.


Renaissance architecture, developed mostly by local architects. Spanish Baroque was distinguished by its exuberant Churrigueresque decoration and the most sober Herrerian style, both developing separately from later international influences. The Colonial style, which has lasted for centuries, still has a strong influence in Latin America.

The Spanish are known for wrought iron window grilles, handrails, and other decoration.

Walls and openings are usually divided into bays and are symmetrical. Surfaces were plain until the classical period. Plasteresque or Classical decoration usually surround rectangular or arched windows that have one or two lights. Some windows have rejas or wrought iron grilles. Rectangular doors have carved wood panels. Roofs are flat or low pitched.

Interior ornamentation concentrates around openings. The most important rooms in private buildings are the entrance hall, main salon, dining area, and the bed chamber. Rooms had few furnishings. Colors were highly saturated. Colour appears primarily in tile work, textiles, and decorative objects. Plasterwork was usually white. Furnishings and ceilings could be a combination of natural wood, color, and gilt. Floors were made of brick, tile, or stone. Wood was used for upper floors. Woven mats and knotted pile rugs were used to cover floors. Walls were smooth white plaster. Earthenware tiles were used to highlight dadoes, door and window facings, window seats, stair risers, and interiors of wall niches.

Dining rooms often have lavabos made of copper, pewter, or pottery that hang on the wall or are in a niche faced with tiles. A lavabo is a wall fountain that consists of a washbasin with flaring sides and an upper portion to hold and distribute water. Grand stairways were elaborately decorated.

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Torcheres or torch stands, hanging lanterns, braccios, candelabra, and chandeliers were common in all room types. Designs could be plain or elaborate. They were made of either wood or iron




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