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8th April 2014


Juan Carlos Quintana is a talented London-based fashion designer who combines Latin American flare with haut couture. He learned his trade from two Spanish masters who had formerly worked for the house of Balenciaga in Spain. When he launched his fashion label Quintana in London he needed a place to work and live. He found the solution in an unlikely place – a former canning factory in Shoreditch, on the southbank of the Thames River.

Before moving into his super-sized loft he had lived in a modest one-room apartment or bedsit in Chelsy. The difference could hardly be any greater – before, a small, cramped space, now a huge, two-storey loft in an erstwhile canning factory in London’s East End. Juan Carlos and Chris, a screenwriter friend, initially had to overcome a few difficulties in adapting. “We felt as if we were sleeping in a park or football field, ” says Chris, who felt lost in the vastness of the neo-Gothic building.

Juan Carlos, who comes from Guatemala, arrived in London in 2002, working first as a freelance fashion designer for Matthew Williamson, Jenny Packham and Michiko Koshino. As he had already had more than ten years of experience as a fashion designer in South and Latin America he finally plucked up the courage to head for Europe and set up his own label Quintana, which proved very successful when he held his first show in Paris in 2008.

Creativity at work generally translates in a kind of genius on every level of life. Clever ideas come quickly to Juan Carlos and his friend in their private sphere as well. For instance the problem of feeling lost in their loft was solved simply by setting up a protective tent in which the fashion designer and the screenwriter slept for their first year in the loft. It also had the advantage of lessening the pressure they felt to turn the former factory into a home from one day to the next. They took their time converting the industrial space and it paid off.

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