As the lead designer at Mashamba Design, a real sense of wonder is felt with the prospect of creating an outdoor living space for a young family to enjoy. In this design project, I was tasked with transforming a spacious area of a recently renovated home in Mallorca’s sought after neighbourhood of El Terreno for a Bermuda-based couple and their two children.
Set by the bay of Palma, in recent years, the district has become prime real estate in the Balearic Islands and the preferred choice for many expats. Rich in history, El Terreno is known for its hillside streets lined with an assortment of modern apartment buildings and stately villas.
Using the house as a holiday home, our clients had initially contacted the studio to source a timeless clay pot from one of my most beloved and trusted brands, Atelier Vierkant. Specialising in the production of handmade ceramics, this Belgian family-run design house has become intertwined in the Mashamba identity. Although with a six month waiting list, the brand refuses to mass produce any of their pieces to maintain their integrity, which for myself is an undeniable positive aspect.
As so commonly happens in life, one discussion led to another and this enquiry became the stepping stone into our design journey together as I was asked to add a much desired ‘wow factor’ to the outdoor living area.
With all of the property’s carefully considered renovations being already complete, there was a need for the exterior space to connect harmoniously with the interiors which remained modern but maintained their respect for the original architecture. With this notion at the forefront of my mind, I envisioned an area that not only my clients would treat as their own private oasis but perfectly balanced the indoors.
As quoted by John Ruskin, ‘fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of a man go together’ and as a landscape designer, the principles of a composition are the same as of those in my work. Each element has an intention where a series of shapes, forms, colours and textures come into play. After all, garden and terrace design is an art form where a space is taken and made to be more attractive and functional.
Take the pool area of this property for example where I intentionally added greenery that would evoke the tropical qualities of a Mediterranean through the selection of burgeoning strelitzia augusta. These I particularly adore for their enormous leaves which wave seamlessly in the breeze during Mallorca’s idyllic summers.
Alongside the objective of creating a beautiful space also comes practicality. With the clients only intending to spend a few months on the island, it is fundamental to consider how regularly the plants will be watered and if this is far and few between, to incorporate low maintenance options. Although automatic irrigation is a preferred choice for many landscape gardeners in Mallorca, I personally find they lack much aesthetic appeal.
With every project comes a challenge and this is where I really work my Mashamba magic to solve logistical and ‘real-life’ practical issues that arise behind the scenes. As El Terreno consists of a treasure trove of narrow streets, navigating the gigantic but delicate Atelier Vierkant pots, one which weighed an astonishing 150 kilos, into the property needed meticulous planning – an objective that we achieved.
Another challenge was to turn my head to a rather unappealing wall that had no connection to the outdoor living space. After some careful forethought, the decision was made paint the wall in a glorious terracotta colour. This was broken up with a beautiful bench which for practicality, provided an extra place to sit, and was then refreshed with new planting.
As the transformation drew to an end, it was a time for reflection on how the client had entrusted me as their designer despite being thousands of miles away and where the majority of our communication was done so over email or on the phone.
Being able to encompass my design footprint into their beautiful home, both were particularly delighted with how the terraces were peerfectly complemented by the clay pots – the element that brought us together on this design journey in El Terreno.
The bond between designer and client is a sacred one and in order to have a successful working relationship you need to be able to trust them implicitly. As a designer, it is important to not only be passionate about your work but to also be about the people you work with, finding the right balance between their comfort zone and your creative vision.