February 19, 2024

Melanie Rose finds it amusing that they’ve started calling her “the Mary Poppins of erotic rooms”. Her baptism comes for two reasons: the first is that, although she has lived in Los Angeles (California), for more than two decades, this Londoner has not lost a hint of her marked British accent. And the second (and main) is that Melanie Rose, like her famous babysitter, also often carries a large bag with her. The difference is that his is full of sex toys. Dildos, plugs annals, whips or feathers are intermingled with samples of fabrics or room plans. Everything fits in Melanie Rose’s bag. It is not a perversion, but pure professional deformation. Her bag, or rather, what she keeps inside it, is usually the lock that opens the door to the sexual fantasies of her clients, people who hire this interior designer when they want to build a room dedicated solely and exclusively to to sexual pleasure.

Rose started designing erotic rooms by chance, she specialized in luxury kitchens and bathrooms: “I had a client I had been working with for about five years and one day she asked me ‘Have you ever designed an erotic room? to EL PAÍS from Los Angeles. That conversation aroused her curiosity and she began to investigate: “The problem is that everything she found was sordid, disgusting, dirty or vulgar.” As she herself admits, it was what any prejudiced person imagines when they think of the erotic room concept: “Dungeons, I saw many dungeons.” The designer thought that this did not have to be the case, that perhaps there was a formula to create these spaces that did not have to stray from her decorative standards and, therefore, from those of her clients: erotic rooms could also be luxurious, elegant and classy. Her first client was satisfied.

One of the erotic rooms that appear in the program, with tantric furniture and a St. Andrew's cross.
One of the erotic rooms that appear in the program, with tantric furniture and a St. Andrew’s cross.COURTESY OF NETFLIX (COURTESY OF NETFLIX)

– How many erotic rooms would you say you have designed since then?

– Dozens, dear!

In the last 10 years, he has dedicated himself almost exclusively to the design of this type of room. Some of them are a sophisticated version of those vulgar dungeons that Rose herself discovered in her first inquiries, others have more of the appearance of the suite room of the hotel where a couple would spend their honeymoon, perhaps with the intention of recovering the spark of the first years. Others are decorated with leather, exposed brick and ropes and include the so-called tantric furniture, specially designed to open up the possibility of an infinite number of postures. Some are decorated in neutral colors and include soft cushions in cream tones and long feathers in pastel tones, massage oils and scented candles. The erotic rooms are as diverse and inexhaustible as human desire itself can be.

You wouldn't imagine this to be an erotic room, but the devil is in the details.
You wouldn’t imagine this to be an erotic room, but the devil is in the details.Courtesy of Netflix (Courtesy of Netflix)

Now some of his work can be seen on the reality show How to design an erotic room, available on Netflix, in which she herself stars and where, at times, more than a decorator, her work is more like that of a couples therapist: “The most wonderful thing I have learned in this job is that there is no one type of person specific who wants to have an erotic room”, he explains, “it could be anyone, it could be your best friend or your neighbor”. In her own words, her client is anyone who wants to explore her desires or indulge in pleasures. The list includes bankers, teachers or policemen.

“Designing a room for pleasure is not that different from designing a kitchen: in both cases, it is important to reach a level of trust between the designer and the client.” To design a kitchen, Melanie Rose would ask about the needs: if the client cooks a lot or usually orders food at home, how many people will use it, if they want a fire or hob or if they want a large table to enjoy long evenings. The same thing happens here, only the conversation is usually more intimate: “It’s like being a therapist, my job is to listen and also to try to get my clients to tell me as much as they can about their intimacies in the bedroom, because I need that information to create a proper space for them.

It’s not always easy, and that’s well reflected in the programme: hence the Mary Poppins bag and excursions to sex shop. Clients often have a hard time opening up, in other cases they haven’t even had an honest conversation with each other about what they like in bed, and in others they express broad desires rather than concrete ideas that can be realized in a room, such as one of the women of the reality, that says: “I want to feel things.” “My job is not only to educate, but to inform to open up a universe of possibilities for them,” she affirms. The bag full of sex toys helps them select what interests them and what doesn’t, and excursions to erotic toy and accessory stores finish educating their taste and arouse their interests.

Another of the erotic rooms designed by Rose, where details that favor sensations prevail.
Another of the erotic rooms designed by Rose, where details that favor sensations prevail.CALEB ALVARADO/NETFLIX (CALEB ALVARADO/NETFLIX)

Some of the elements included in the design have their history, such as the X-shaped cross of Saint Andrew, which is used for BDSM practices: “The most interesting thing for me is that when you talk about dildos, people think they are an invention of the 20th century. Dildos have been with us for centuries, we could go back to Ancient Egypt”. The same goes for other games or sex toys. In Rome there was a currency called spintria that men used when they went to brothels: the spintria It had various sexual positions recorded and, supposedly, the men would throw them into the air and try them depending on the result. In the year 1300 BC, in China there were already penis rings made with eyelids and goat hair to stimulate pleasure. In the 1600s, French sailors used to take their ships out to sea. ladies de voyage, which were nothing more than sex dolls. Vibrators were invented in England as a treatment for non-existent hysteria. To give some examples. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” says Rose, “it’s something that has been with us throughout human history, and I think it’s important to highlight it with my clients.”

Of all her clients, Melanie Rose knows who she would highly recommend making space for an erotic bedroom: young parents with children. “When you have children, they become your center and this is natural and it should be, but parents also need an intimate space in which to maintain the bond of the couple, not let sexuality pass to a second or third flat”. It’s hard to find space when the room is full of toys.

“Most apartments are completely anti-erotic,” Rose categorizes. What can those who can’t afford an erotic room but want a sexier space do? “Let them start with erotic toys, even if they are in a drawer, and try them with their partner. They can add candles, fluffy cushions, and perhaps some relaxing music. But definitely the toys.”

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