Mallorca, the largest of Spain's Balearic islands, supports a small but growing furniture design, artisan production and manufacturing sector. Assisted by Curatisland, a project of the Institut d'Innovació Empresarial de les Illes Balears (IDI), island designers and entrepreneurs featured prominently at the 2018 London Design Festival.
The Made in Mallorca exhibition at the London Design Fair (September 20–23, 2018) showcased a wide range of products from independent designer/makers. furniturelink contacted three of the small-scale furniture producers to ask about the challenges and benefits of operating a design-based business on the island.
In business for one year, Contain's designer Mauriceio Obarrio and advertising creative Juan Peralta believe in slow design. Applying this approach, the partners often source components from traditional artisans such as terrazzo table tops in vibrant palettes from Huguet and ceramic lamp bases from Paparkone.
Connector shelving unit with lumaquela (a sedimentary rock) top
Inset: detail of brass connector
Similar to other designer/maker enterprises on Mallorca, Contain's business model benefits from the purchasing power of international tourists and a hotel industry seeking custom products and renovations. The increased cost of sourcing components from the mainland can be a disadvantage.
The partners' custom-fabricated modular brass hardware allows them to ship their Connector series of tables, desks and cabinets flat-packed in an infinite number of configurations.
Connector low shelving unit and cafe table with terrazzo tops
Passionate about design and technology, Contain incorporates local stone, tile, blown glass and the latest LED fixtures and 3D printing.
Partners architect Nicoletta Mantoan and artist Alejandro Dumon of 2monos pioneered slow design on Mallorca and "think with their hands." In the studio they opened in 2010, they create unique pieces and small runs from materials that age well like iron, wood and leather.
Chef's table with steel rod frame and oak plywood top
Repurposed school chair frame with perforated steel seat
While they focus on local identity, their marketing strategy covers international shipping, wholesale/retail and sales through their website. The partners often uses recycled materials and components, as in their repurposed vintage school chairs in primary colours.
Shibui stool with cord seat
Bonaparte II steel frame chair with wood seat
2monos stool seats incorporate woven pita cord, a fibre derived from the Agave americana plant (also called jute), over a steel/iron frame. A woven hemp cord or recycled timber seat in a natural wax finish enhances the Bonaparte chair of welded steel tube.
Marlene Albaladejo, sole proprietor of La Pecera (the fishbowl in Catalan), trained as an industrial and interior designer before opening her small eco studio in 2010. From her central Palma de Mallorca location, she employs local artisans to make furniture to her designs. Through this collaboration, La Pecera promotes the handcrafted and handmade movement in the Balearic islands.
Robusta chairs with oak frame and woven seats of palm, bulrush and leather
Albaladejo employs up to five different artisans to craft her Saturn stools, two for her Figuera chairs, and up to three for her Robusta chairs. The artisans work on their own or with family members and determine pricing and delivery schedules with La Pecera. All the products use natural finishes with the option of a natural stain.
Saturn stools with oak frame and woven palm seat
Figuera chairs with ash frame
furniturelink often visits the London Design Festival, where design standards of exhibited furniture can vary. Made in Mallorca, represented here by the three featured companies (others listed in the sidebar), offered a rare example of a group that showed design flare, respect for local materials/tradition and products of consistent high quality from all.
© 2018 furniturelink (text and images)