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Village people

Village people

A light-filled holiday home in the secluded village of Deià on the Spanish island of Majorca combines elements of the area’s traditional style with a very contemporary sensibility.

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In this secluded outdoor nook is a weathered reclaimed wooden table handmade by local artisan Mateo José Ferrer from Majorca-based furniture makers Galeria Barcelo. The planters are recycled and the hand-forged metal hooks on which they hang were made by local metalworker Toni Calafell

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These typical tiled street decorations are a reminder that Majorca is part of Catholic Spain

The village of Deià is definitely off the beaten track, even though it’s situated on Majorca, one of Spain’s top holiday destinations. ‘For centuries Deià hid behind a rocky hill in the middle of a valley, protecting itself from pirates, looking towards the mountain,’ say Oro del Negro and Manuel Villanueva of MORE Design, the designers of this serene vacation home.

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Sunset at Deià Cove, a short walk from the village

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The outdoor living area has a layered look, with plenty of textures on show. Built-in seating has been upholstered in fabric from local textile company Tapiceria Riera

It’s precisely this secluded and protected atmosphere that has more recently led Deià to becoming a much sought-after vacation spot. Home to English poet Robert Graves from 1926 until his death in 1985, it was also the location of 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 Oro and Manuel, ‘writers, artists [and] musicians and, lately, lots of people in the fashion business’.

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Deià is almost completely surrounded by protective hills. A romantic ground-floor guest bedroom leads directly out to the pool area

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Oro del Negro (left) and Manuel Villanueva of MORE Design on the staircase. The stairwell does double duty as a lightwell – and the light flooding in from above beautifully illuminates the curved banister and natural stone used on the stair treads

But anyone with an eye for design is likely to be captivated by the sophisticated mix of simplicity and complexity that characterises the interiors of this house. MORE Design was asked to create the interiors when it was being built – strictly according to the building codes and regulations that govern construction in this historic and picturesque village, of course – and the time schedule was tight. But, given free rein with the design, they quickly created interiors that beautifully blend contemporary and traditional elements.

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In the outdoor living area, light fittings are recycled Balinese chicken-pen baskets. The wooden dining table was sourced from Michael Roberts of Son Viscos in Valldemossa and the metal chairs were purchased online. The sheepskins are from Ikea

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Custom-made oak front doors complete with rustic hand-forged hinges open directly off the street onto 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.

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The hallway and stairwell feature a reclaimed brass light fixture from antique store Sa Costa in Palma, and brass switch plates are the products of a collaboration between MORE Design and FONT Bcn. Just visible through the door is an airy children’s bedroom

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Natural-stone walls line the street in which the house is situated

Oro and Manuel 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 the pair themselves.

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French doors and sky-blue shutters are a nod to a traditional vernacular

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This small bathroom window affords a charming view of the nearby rooftops

‘We treat the structure of our buildings as an interactive physical experience,’ say the designers, ‘much like installation art or sculpture. The design language we use stems mostly from a contemporary interpretation of the Majorcan vernacular.’

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A tactile stone countertop, natural-pebble floor and unlacquered brass mixer tap and spout by Vola in the guest toilet

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Oro and Manuel

Along with this aesthetic, 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 materials, although, as the duo emphasise, they’re ‘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 Boni Fuster) and the recycled brass light fixtures, which MORE Design created in collaboration with FONT Bcn. Oro and Manuel are also quick to acknowledge ‘all the help from our builder friends at Contratas Soller and architect Claudio Hernandez Alcover’. And stonemason 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.

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In the main bedroom, the pink satin quilt and tactile wooden stool and table, all of which were chosen by the homeowner, offset the elegant formality of the pared-down four-poster bed. Pale wooden panelling is a textural feature here

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Discreetly tucked away behind pale wood-panelled walls and doors is a private study area. The traditional Majorcan chair contrasts with the rough-hewn wooden slab that serves as a desk, with the room’s eclectic look completed by a vintage-style Brinn table lamp from Belgian design store Flamant

Up those stairs on the top floor is a selection of sleeping and bathing spaces that includes a sumptuous main bedroom, decorated in black and white, with its own private lounge area, and with a subtle sense of softness provided by a 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.

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Woven and wooden textures add interest to the main bedroom: the fabric used for the curtains is ‘llenguas’ by Majorcan textile company Tapiceria Riera and the table is from Sleeping Company, a furniture store in Palma

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Oro with his dog, Pearl, at the entrance to the house. The oak front doors were custom-made by local artisan Pedro Casanovas and are finished with hand-forged hinges and a brass lock

Of course, every holiday 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’ll find yourself lingering for hours on an inviting built-in upholstered couch. The space is also perfectly fitted out for lunches and dinners alfresco, with a beautiful rustic recycled wooden table taking centre stage.

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In the kitchen, the joinery is by local artisan Boni Fuster, with handles and other hardware designed by MORE Design

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In this bathroom, MORE Design customised a traditional cast-iron bathtub by having it covered with a micro-cement finish. The unlacquered brass bath spout, mixer tap and hand shower are all by special order from Vola

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 house, those feelings seem likely to linger long after its occupants have returned to the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.

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Contact Details

Text: Robyn Alexander / bureaux.co.za
Styling: Sven Alberding / bureaux.co.za  
Photographs: Greg Cox / bureaux.co.za

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