Home is where the art is


By: Alexandra Stilwell

Photo: LUÍS DA CRUZ, ANTONELLA ANTONUCCI & ALAIN DE BRUIJN

Created by Dutch artist Eric de Bruijn, Ana Ana is a unique space where art and hospitality come together in multiple forms

Imagine a home where a creative studio, an art gallery, large entertaining spaces, and comfy guest rooms coexist in a peaceful urban setting. This is Ana Ana, Eric de Bruijn’s artistic habitat. Located close to the riverfront in Portimão, this large 500sqm building was initially set to be a family home and art studio. The vast rooms with tall ceilings were ideal for Eric’s large canvases and the bedrooms sufficient to host his family. But when COVID hit, and a lockdown was imposed, the Dutch painter decided to reinvent the space.

What was once an industrial building was lovingly transformed into a serene oasis. This fluid home, in constant change, is a remarkable resting place filled with bright natural light and unique art pieces, curated and designed by the artist, making Ana Ana one of a kind.

“The house got a lot of tender loving care,” says the soft-spoken Dutchman, who opened the doors of his multipurpose home to give art lovers the chance to stay in what can be seen as a work of art in progress. “It’s still a working studio today, but can be different tomorrow,” he explains. Eric’s assistant, Marta, knows she must expect the unexpected. “Very often, I come in after the weekend, and things have changed, again,” she remarks. “Sometimes he sells art pieces from the residence’s walls, and we need to replace them.”

Ana Ana is now a comfortable and spacious setting where guests can stay and immerse themselves in art. However, when it is not rented out, Eric lives here. It is where he comes to life, it represents who he is, and that is why he chose its name. “Ana Ana means ‘it’s me’ or ‘that’s who I am’, in Arabic,” he explains. This space truly reflects Eric’s style, which he describes as balanced, light, inviting but also comfortable, tasteful and honest. “It’s a plural space where you will find art in many forms, from exhibitions to gastronomic events, pop-up concepts or artistic residences, anything can happen.”

The Dutch artist, creative director and interior designer moved to the Algarve in 2006, thinking he would only stay for a year. Fifteen years later, he is still here and has no regrets. “What can I say, I love Portugal, and I love the people,” he exclaims. A passion that has led him to work with many local and national artisans to champion their work. On top of producing furniture in the north of Portugal, together with Marta, he is creating a line of furniture and objects to tell Ana Ana’s story.

He is currently also working on four interior design projects in the Algarve, and others in Holland, such as a beautiful restaurant that opened last June in Nijmegen. “Hospitality is very important for me,” he insists as he reveals he is also building a small Ana Ana in Lagoa for two people.

Born in The Netherlands, where his parents had a hotel, Eric has always been a keen host. After exhibitions, he loves to cook for his guests, “to share beautiful things with interesting people”. This is why the house offers spaces for big gatherings, such as a large dining room and a sitting room with lots of white sofas, Persian-style carpets and a large rustic wooden coffee table, complemented with quirky glass-front cabinets. Another sitting room, with a huge corner sofa and pieces of art lining the walls, is the perfect spot for intimate conversations over a glass of wine or two.

The fully equipped house can be rented year-round. With its five bedrooms and studio, it can sleep up to 12 guests. Designed and curated to make guests feel good, the bedrooms are almost like cocoons. The atmosphere is light and airy with wooden shutters, spacious areas, and comfy furniture with oversized cushions. Polished cement, white floorboards or traditional Algarvian terracotta tiles are the natural materials chosen for the floors.

The villa is split into two separate units — a townhouse and a studio — along with an art gallery. On the townhouse’s ground floor, guests can spread out in an open space which includes the gallery and a kitchen and Eric’s studio (which is available to rent at an extra cost). On the second floor, there are four double bedrooms and one twin bedroom, as well as a fabulous rooftop terrace with a lounge and dining area and a firepit. This ample space is ideal for yoga retreats, which Eric and Marta will soon be organising.

Ana Ana also features an exceptional patio with its own black swimming pool. Surrounded by earthy pink walls lined with cacti, this interior courtyard gives off a mix of Moroccan and Mexican vibes. This unique home is definitely made for photoshoots and has been chosen by several brands such as Zara Home, adding yet another layer of creativity to this artistic habitat.


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