Line of Beauty
A light-filled holiday home in the secluded village of Deià on the island of Mallorca beautifully combines elements of the area’s traditional style with a very contemporary sensibility.
The village of Deià is definitely off the beaten track — even though it’s situated on the Spanish island of Mallorca, one of Spain’s top holiday destinations. “For centuries,” say Oro del Negro and Manuel Villanueva of MORE Design, the designers of this serene vacation home, “Deià hid behind a rocky hill in the middle of a valley, protecting itself from pirates, looking toward the mountain.”
It’s precisely this secluded and protected atmosphere that has more recently led to Deià becoming a much sought-after vacation spot. Having been home to the English poet Robert Graves from 1929 until his death in 1985, it has also played host to a house owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson (and the Virgin Records owner’s crew of musical guests), and Deià’s wide range of visitors now includes, say Del Negro and Villanueva, “writers, artists, musicians and lately lots of people in the fashion business.”
Anyone with an eye for design is likely to be captivated by the sophisticated mix of simplicity and complexity that characterizes the interiors of this house. Custom-made oak front doors (complete with rustic, hand-forged hinges) open directly off the street into a light-filled living room designed for lounging, with built-in upholstered seating and a projector for TV and movie viewing. Head up the stairs to an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area: on one side, a dramatic red velvet sofa faces a boldly sculpted fireplace. In the centre of this space is the kitchen, which combines practicality with loveliness. It features natural stone countertops, rough-hewn wooden storage drawers and bold black pendant lamps. The sleek adjacent indoor dining area — perfect for laid-back, late breakfasts — completes the public space of this central level of the house.
MORE Design was asked to create an interior design for this home when it was already being built — strictly according to the building codes and regulations that govern construction in this historic and picturesque village, of course — and the schedule was tight. Having been given free rein with the design, however, they have created interiors that beautifully blend contemporary and traditional elements.
Del Negro and Villanueva describe their design ethos as a “permanent search for balance, the traditional versus the contemporary, simplicity and complexity, landscape and the interior world, Oro and Manuel, the edge and the curve,” and this philosophy is very well expressed in this house. A traditional feel is created by elements such as the sculptural staircase and the use of natural materials and textures, which is then heightened and thrown into relief by contrasting very contemporary touches such as the brass lighting fixtures and taps, the pops of red, pink and black in the colour scheme, and the use of sleek contemporary furniture and lighting designs — such as the Etch pendants by Tom Dixon in the kitchen, the Philippe Starck-designed Ghost dining chairs and the sensual wall lamps, several of which were designed by Del Negro and Villanueva themselves.
“We treat the structure of our buildings as an interactive physical experience,” say Del Negro and Villanueva, “much like installation art or sculpture. The design language we use mostly stems from a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Mallorcan vernacular.” And along with this esthetic, quite naturally, goes the commissioning of many local artisans and craftspeople to create new versions of traditional finishes and furnishings. Their first choice is always to work with local resources and available materials, although, as the duo emphasize, they are “not necessarily only recycling material, but innovating its uses.”
Among the best examples of this practice in the house are the gorgeous recycled oak doors (by local artisan Pedro Casanovas) and the recycled brass light fixtures, which MORE Design created in collaboration with Font BCN. Del Negro and Villanueva are also quick to acknowledge “all the help from our builder friends at Contratas Sóller and architect Claudio Hernández Alcover.” And stone mason Juan Camposol was instrumental in creating the floor designs that combine insets of natural stone with bone-coloured cement — a technique that has been used to especially gorgeous effect on the staircase.
Up those stairs on the top floor is a selection of sleeping and bathing spaces that include a sumptuous main bedroom, decorated in black and white with its own private lounge area, and with a subtle sense of softness provided by myriad layered textures. The simple bathrooms take pared-back minimalism to new levels of luxe with custom-made baths and natural stone vanity counters. The warming gleam provided by touches of brass continues through all these areas via the use of taps and other bathroom fittings, and the lovely recycled lights.
Of course every vacation home needs a comfortable outdoor living space, and the design of this area has also been given careful attention by MORE Design. Wander out for a swim in the spectacular pool and it’s likely you’d find yourself lingering for hours on an inviting built-in and upholstered couch. The space is also perfectly fitted out for lunches and dinners alfresco, with a beautifully rustic, recycled wooden table taking centre stage.
This home is the ideal space in which to relax and recharge: it’s serene and pared-back, yet also features subtly stimulating shapes, textures and objects. Del Negro and Villanueva suggest that interior design is perhaps the most emotional of all forms of design; the one with the strongest ability to conjure up “the ethereal feelings within, the internal sensations and emotions.” In this tranquil Deià house, those feelings seem likely to linger long after its temporary occupants have returned to the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.
Photos By Greg Cox / Styling By Sven Alberding