The pandemic is affecting our island in many obvious ways. One that’s less obvious is its impact on Mallorca interior design trends. David Holzer spoke to Mallorca-based interior designer Arianna Lucarella about how the fallout from COVID-19 is changing what her clients are asking for.
Raised in Ibiza, Arianna has been an interior designer in Mallorca for nearly 20 years. She combines a natural Balearic sensibility with a contemporary chic, colourful, international outlook.
First of all, how is the pandemic directly affecting Mallorca interior design trends, Arianna?
Some people from the UK, Scandinavia or Germany who would normally only stay in their home on the island for a few weeks are thinking “There’s a new lockdown coming, let’s run back to Mallorca” and stay longer. They know the weather is fantastic here in winter – it’s 24 degrees outside today and it’s November – and they feel safer. It makes sense. Why stay in your house in a city like Berlin, Stockholm or London when you could be here?
My clients are coming back, looking around their homes and saying, “We need to improve what’s been done because we thought we were only going to spend a few days on the island every year and now we’re here for months.”
What specifically are you being asked to do?
I’m being asked to increase connectivity. Clients who were happy with wifi and basic capacity now want to do Zoom conferences and upgrade to as many megas as possible. Because they now need a steady connection, they’re changing to a data plug on the wall. You just plug in and have a fast, steady connection.
Now that people are staying here for longer, they want proper access to TV. They’re signing up to companies that allow you to enter into their system via their server so you can watch as many channels as you want without having to install an ugly satellite dish or antenna.
As the kind of people who are moving here for the longer term are those who can work from home, I’m being asked to design more home offices. This includes installing lighting designed for a workspace.
Home lighting usually takes one of two routes. You can either choose to have light that mimics natural light and shows colours and so on how they are. Or you go for something that flatters.
In working areas, people need to be able to see and be seen clearly. You now have intelligent lighting that imitates daylight. If it’s daytime and you have your shutters open, these lights regulate the intensity of light on your desk and what you’re working on.
Lighting has changed incredibly. Now there are so many ways to bring light to a room. A few years ago, everything had to be concealed and frame free so you couldn’t see where the light was coming from. Now functional lighting is allowed to be visible.
The kind of glass we’re installing is changing too. I no longer think so much about double glazing and with powerful thermal breakage. I’m going for sun protection windows that cut out UV rays and prevent sun damage to your family and everything in your house. I’m also using acoustic windows that reduce sound more.
Is the pandemic accelerating existing Mallorca interior design trends?
In some ways, yes. There’s a division on the island between people building superhomes where the look is more important than environmental awareness and builders who are focusing on the environment. Environmentally sensitive construction is gaining momentum, which is great.
Where people are building or renovating with environmental impact in mind, it’s now as much about real impact as it is aesthetics. It’s no longer enough for a house in Deià or Valldemossa to look right in its environment.
How is this manifesting?
Our technician at G4Deco has Passive House certification. This is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. We obtained this certification because we felt it was our moral duty.
More and more builders want to reduce CO2 emissions when they’re building. This is very interesting because it means moving to local materials, where the carbon footprint is far, far less.
For example, builders are using Mares sandstone again. Up until 60 years ago it was popular, but the industry moved away from it. Now it’s coming back because it’s worked for so long, is abundantly available on the island and extracted by hand so you don’t need to use any machinery and it doesn’t have far to travel.
From an aesthetic perspective, you can mix it with other types of material to create interesting facades.
Ceramic blocks cooked with biomass – plant material – are becoming popular because of the low amount of emissions produced when they’re manufactured. made on Mallorca. Builders are also using compress earth blocks made from damp soil which are sustainable, efficient and can be made locally.
Another material that’s becoming trendy and widespread, especially in Deià and Valldemossa, is hydrated lime plaster on facades. It gives a smooth finish and, compared to cement for example, it’s low in emission. It’s also good for thermal isolation. Builders are using it with lime concrete continuous flooring.
Where materials aren’t easily available on the island – for instance, wood – builders are doing things like rescuing wooden beams from buildings that have been torn down and recycling them for doors and windows.
When I’m using wood for floors, which I love to do, I always ask for certification to prove it comes from a certified forest. When we seal the wood, we use chemicals that are as environmentally friendly as possible.
Some companies are building with wooden structures instead of concrete. For example, there’s a building in central Palma being done this way.
What are the advantages?
Construction is faster. Wood is less bulky than concrete or iron so you can maximise inner space. You can also continue using wood for facades. It’s a little more expensive but the thermal saving is very large. I think more and more buildings are going to be done this way.
There’s an interesting trend towards using iron windows instead of aluminium, PVC or wood. Using iron allows you to reduce the width of the frame, from 12 or 8 centimetres with aluminium down to 4 with iron. This changes the look radically.
Why didn’t people use iron?
It’s to do with thermal breakage – preventing hot or cold air getting into or leaving a house. Previously, you could only achieve efficient thermal breakage with aluminium, PVC or wood. Also, iron frames that offered thermal breakage were only available from a couple of international companies. Now they’re a big Mallorca interior design trend.
How about the aesthetic side of things? What are you loving right now?
I’m working on the renovation of a house where we’re going to be applying all the principles that we’ve just talked about.
One of the interesting things is the way we’re using fabrics. I’m well aware that fabrics and fashion are two of the most environmentally damaging industries. I’ve tried to use only fabrics made in Europe for years. I even ask my fabric manufacturers to tell me what components they’re using and where they come from.
Now I use an eco-friendly line that I try to persuade my clients to use as much as possible. I also avoid using complicated patterns and designs that use lots of fabric.
I use linen and untreated fabrics as well as velvet made out of cotton, a really fresh material. I haven’t used leather or fake leather for a long time.
The thing is that even if we’re tuning down the wow effect, we’re winning by creating less extravagant, charming interior design that blends in more with the building and nature. If I want to add a little flamboyance I use a little bit of silk with nice embroidery.
Even if the fabrics I’m working with are understated, I love working with colour and introduce as much as I can.
In my bathrooms, I use hydraulic floor tiles. The style is originally from Morocco but the ones I use are made in Mallorca. They’re super-smart and trendy and can be custom made in any colour. Combining different patterns gives amazing effects.
I use crazy colours and shapes as much as I can as long as it’s appropriate for the concept. I use wallpaper, which is rare here because people think it’s too risky. I’m using wallpaper and I’m not ashamed to say it! It’s fun and there’s some beautiful wallpaper art.
If I have a wall where I want a special effect, I ask a local artist to hand paint something spectacular. Or, if I have a lamp with a plain linen shade, I’ll ask the painter to paint something on it and I’ve added that fantasy touch. Or we’ll treat the iron legs of a table so they’re more interesting than the plain look from the manufacturer.
Basically, I run away from white. I want to create a universe for my clients that surrounds and transports them.
I’m also enjoying upholstery. I design a lot of upholstery pieces or rescue old pieces and restore them back to life.
Most of all, I love projects where there’s a specific purpose in mind. This is why I like doing bathrooms and kitchens. It’s all about combining functionality and efficiency perfectly with the aesthetic.
If you’d like to talk to Arianna about a project, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org