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This may not be your idea of a home but it is bold and fun, and it has certainly attracted wide media attention. The 8,500 square-foot Casa Son Vida is a cooperation between three powerhouses: Luxury residential developer Cosmopolitan Estates, eclectic Dutch designer and founder of Mooi, Marcel Wanders,, and award-winning Los Angeles, Switzerland and Hong Kong-based tecARCHITECTURE.
Casa Son Vida is located in the Balearic Islands off Spain, on the Island of Mallorca, where humans have lived since 6000–4000 BC and where more recently, tourists have over-crowded every beach. But Casa Son Vida avoids the touristy kitsch and aims much higher. It is in the exclusive Son Vida community, just 15 minutes from the capital of Palma.
Casa Son Vida is in fact a reno of a 1960s Mediterranean villa, but it has been turned into an fantastic, sprawling luxury residence, designed to attract the young, discerning and bold, who are confident and design-savvy enough to know what they are looking at.
The handiwork of Marcel Wanders is evident everywhere in the Casa that looks a bit like an unruly movie set with its dino-bone exterior staircase, and various bits and pieces that remind you of Tomorrowland, Mickey Mouse, Finding Nemo and, of course, Alice in Wonderland.
With its retro synthetic vibe, the house clashes happily with its lush surroundings, but the interior, in its white-dominant serenity is much less startling, although fun and unexpected detail is found in every space. There is absolutely nothing ordinary in this house. Everything is customized, every aspect considered a million times. It is a great example or considered chaos.
This is the first of six villas planned for the Platinum Estates development by the just less than a year-old Cosmopolitan Estates. The eclectic plans for the remaining villas reveal a series of large residences, radically different from each other. Casa Son Vida is currently not for sale but the other five are. Dream on. Tuija Seipell
We don’t often come across projects to feature in Valencia, although the ancient city is the third-largest in Spain. So, we were particularly excited to discover the new cool kids wear boutique, Piccino, that opened at Trafalgar 52 this month.
Piccino (Italian for “kids”) is the first retail shop of the family-owned company that offers reasonably priced Italian children’s fashions including Brums and Bimbus.
Valencia’s Masquespacio, also known as +Quespacio, lead by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, was in charge of both interior design and graphics for this beautiful 38 square-meter (409 square feet) gift-box-of-a-store.
This store reminds us a bit of the Candy Room in Melbourne by the Red Design Group.
But in Piccino, we especially love the bold and disciplined use of just two basic minimalist principles: white surfaces and black line drawings. This framework creates a sense of being inside a drawing, and it blurs the border between real and imagined, giving a fun 3D effect to all flat surfaces.
We are forced to really look, to see, to check out what’s what. Yet, the simplicity of the framework also lets the clothing play the main role. It pops, but in a fun, inclusive way.
The back-story and inspiration come from the owners’ kids and involve children sewing clothes for their new friends.
With the added drawings of furnishings, kids and clothes, and fun call-outs and other on-brand touches, the space is kid- and parent-friendly yet also cool enough to appeal to pre-teens.
The classic Lou Lou Ghost chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell seems to be designed for this environment. - Tuija Seipell
On first glance, The Passenger restaurant, recently opened in the trendy Malasaña neighborhood’s Triball area in Madrid, Spain, appears like any retro dining establishment with heavy-handed use of leather, brass and dark wood. Yet there is a distinct undertone of a train, of a fine passenger train of a bygone era.
The bulky and clubby arm chairs, the iron table legs, the big windows all refer to a time when heads of state and industrialists, often travelling with their wives and servants, occupied entire train cars and dined in the most lavishly appointed dining cars rivalling the best-known fine establishments of the time.
But the real fun aspect of the 150-seat The Passenger -- coffee bar by day, rock bar by night -- is the illusion of movement. The three “windows” in the main seating area are actually video screens onto which a constant, synchronized stream of video is programmed so that it flows from window to window, creating a feeling of looking out the window of a moving train.
The stylized train view, evoking an alternate state of being in the middle of busy Madrid, was created by Spanish video artist Franger. The images of both urban scenes and natural landscapes were recorded from actual trains around the world.
The restaurant’s designers at Parolio took their inspiration from the long-and-narrow space and then continued with the train travel concept throughout. Consistent with the classic rock music played at night, the main hall of the restaurant is decorated with images of the greatest stars of classic rock pictured in trains and railway stations.
The Passenger’s owners are young Spanish actors Rodrigo Taramona and Jimmy Castro with entrepreneurs Miguel Peman and Carlos Carrillo. - Tuija Seipell
Once again, we find ourselves featuring the work of Masquespacio, the Valencia, Spain, -based studio with an eye for crisp, fresh interiors.
Masquespacio’s principal, Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, has been hard at work completing the graphic design and interior design for a just-opened language school with a minimal budget.
The 183 square meter (1,969 sq.ft.) language school called 2Day Languages is located in a heritage building in central Valencia. Its target audience is a 20 to 30 year-old international student for whom the school offers flexible learning options, cool surroundings and even a cooking class!
The space is divided into three class rooms, a staff room and a lounge. The colours and components of each space stem from the speech bubble/flag logo of the school. The three brand colours – blue, yellow and pink – represent the three levels established by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Additional influence comes from the neoclassical architecture of the building, new and old architecture of Valencia, and parts of the Spanish language.
We love the use of pine wood and crude-looking stackable and light-weight furniture. We love the semi-domestic feel created by this furniture, the casual cushions, lighting and plants.
The entire space looks inviting and friendly, yet the lovely skeleton of the grand building is visible in the plaster moldings, the height of the rooms and the gorgeous windows.
Particularly intriguing are the 10 frames of crafty nails-and-wool-thread artwork, created by Masquespacio and involving 6400 nails and 2500 meters of wool. Tuija Seipell.
Photography: David Rodríguez from Cualiti
Last fall, José Miguel Herrera and Nuria Morell closed their popular SushiHome restaurant in Valencia, Spain. Fans and patrons were surprised, but they did not have to wait long for the answer.
In December, the couple opened Nozomi Sushi Bar in the funky Ruzafa neighbourhood of the city.
For interior design and branding of their new venture, they employed Valencia-based creative consultancy Masquespacio established in 2010 by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse.
The founders selected the name Nozomi, popular for restaurants and businesses, including the Japanese bullet train. It is a lovely word with dual connotations. The word itself means wish or hope in Japanese and with the bullet-train implications, it also signifies efficiency and modern lifestyle. The whole project was then envisioned around two concepts, ‘emotional classic’ and ‘rational contemporary.’
In the 233 square-metre (2508 sq.ft) space, Hernández Palacios, creative director for this project, managed to evoke the feel of a Japanese street. “We have been studying photography from the most authentic Japanese streets with the aim to create a reinterpretation on a metaphoric way of those streets,” she says. Nozomi Sushi reminds many people of a typical street in Kyoto where traditional Japanese houses are well preserved.
The best feature of the restaurant is the overall quiet balance. It does not appear to be trying too hard like so many concepts today. Instead, it feels natural and coherent with its light-weight wood slats, shelves and partitions contrasted with the strong and solid concrete features.
We love the entrance where the slanted-roof overhang creates a nice play with scale. The otherwise quite basic doorway now appears both inviting and intriguing.
Inside, the chefs ply the ancient trade of sushi – the original fast food – behind a neutral bar with a fantastic origami-inspired cherry-tree-blossom ceiling above them. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas.