Mediterranean Japan

They draw from the nature that surrounds them. They're strongly connected with it in raw materials, colour and form. They're perfectly imperfect in a very Japanese way: raw, unpolished, authentic. They cannot exist without plants. They have a preference for antiques, local crafts and art. They give new functions to old forms. Today they say they're in the trendy "boho style". We're talking about the traditional interiors of the Balearic Islands or, even more broadly, of the Mediterranean, which, contrary to appearances, have an enormous amount in common with Japanese aesthetics.

The waiting game, a personal thread

Whenever March approaches, we buy plane tickets for July and book over twenty seats, only to decide just before the flight where we'll stay. I know it's crazy, but even though we live a life of constant seclusion, we love this masochistic month-long wait for exactly THIS trip together. Looking for fincas and hotels, thinking about all the things we want to see and where else we'll look is just so exciting. For the last two years we have holidayed in Mallorca. This year we really could have gone anywhere. But like crazy people, we bought tickets for Mallorca again. We already have 'our' places there. We know which corners will make me sweat, where wild figs and sun-warmed almonds grow, where I'll buy pimento and mineral water-scented perfume, where the best places are for a glass of wine and from where I'll come back with more ramen bowls and antiques.

There really is something special about Mallorca. Recently, one of my favourite vintage girls on Instagram (hello @freakery!) asked her followers what they dream of. A good 60 per cent of the answers pointed to a house in Mallorca (some still dreamed of a house in Italy, the South of France or the Bieszczady Mountains). You'll probably say that @freakery followers are an unrepresentative group of sentimental aesthetes like me. But the results of this simple survey have confirmed how much we all long for a good, quiet life close to nature, surrounded by simple interiors full of original objects. So, riding the (nomen omen) wave of upcoming holidays, I decided to show you something from the Balearics this time. But don't expect minimalist glass surfaces with blue infinity pools. It'll be very natural, sometimes retro, but always high quality.

Sea or mountains?

I'll begin with a classic trick question: sea or mountains? For me, mountains are an aesthetic and spiritual experience. They're climatic, majestic, a bit primal, evoke childhood memories of the Tatras, shed tears of happiness on mountain serpentines, only ... there is no water. The sea, on the other hand, is above all a physical experience for me. Water, sun, wind ... still it's somehow aesthetically shallow. Fortunately, European coasts and islands offer both, and the Balearics are phenomenal in this respect, satisfying absolutely every need. Mine included - deeply aesthetic.

Colour code

Having visited various islands - from the Caribbean and the Canary Islands to Madeira, Sicily, Cyprus and the Greek islands - and browsed through local interior design magazines, I've noticed that the colour palette changes somewhat depending on whether a given interior is closer to the water or closer to the mountains. This is a simplification, of course, because interior design isn't only influenced by its location to the water, but also by its age, history, the taste of its owners or the strength of external cultural influences. Nevertheless, this tred is definitely memorable.

Of all the islands I've been to, I think I know Majorca best, both from the landscape and the interior perspective. Here, the difference between the colours is also the clearest for me. That's why I wanted to write about it today.

Mallorca's interiors strive to blend in colour with the surrounding landscape, competing with it only in form, giving an unusual aesthetic experience. It reminds me of the 1:1 rule that applies to successful pattern combinations - based on the same leading colour but different shapes. There is a special kind of beauty and harmony in this rule. Of course there are exceptions, but as a rule of thumb, where there is water, the colour palette tends to fall more often into blue and white. Where there are mountains, the palette tends towards green and the natural colour of stone, from beige to orange to pink, depending on the raw materials available locally. The colour tone of the entire interior is usually determined by the mosaic inside the pool - this is where the whole colour story of the house begins. Pools by the sea are usually 'azul' - rich blue, sometimes tending towards navy blue and sometimes towards bleached sea blue, and always in white. Just like the sea, at different times of the day and year. The pools in the mountains, on the other hand, are dark or sage green in a pink and peach setting. So are the surrounding forests, olive groves and mountains, whose bare slopes have pink stripes in places.


Mallorcan interiors are strongly oriented towards nature. They have an authenticity that I always look for in interiors. They're welcoming to people, even in a luxurious environment they aren't oppressive. They convey a sense of security. And they're a real treasure trove of inspiration. Raw stone, wood, ceramics, natural fibres or fabrics such as jute, palm leaves, linen, cotton or wool, plus paper, iron and, of course, natural plants - living or dried - all these can be found in Mallorcan interiors. They bring nature into the house, but first tame it a little. They also use simple objects in surprising ways. A stone as a doorstop. An old wine bottle as a vase. A peasant hook as a handle for a chest of drawers. A basket as a lamp, a barrel as a bathtub, a pig trough as a serving dish. All wonderfully imperfect, bitten by the ravages of time. Wabi-sabi.

Past & art

Mallorcan interiors are also a mixture of opposites (like Japanese ones!). This is most evident in the old monastic buildings converted into fincas. Raw rural forms and art live there under the same roof. The old and the new. Paintings in golden frames hang on the stone walls, design classics lie on the stone floor, pocket albums, jade and brass sculptures lie on the old benches, in the kitchen the classic red of Le Creuset pots and pans mixes with old wood, coffee flows from the Faema coffee machine, pepper is sprinkled from the Peugeot mill. Wherever you look - tradition at its best in a harmonious dance with modernity (or at least design classics).

Local handcrafts

Cushions, bedspreads, curtains, napkins or furniture covers are basically all locally woven ikat in all kinds of colours and patterns inspired by the surrounding nature. In addition, works by local artists - painters, caricaturists, engravers - hang on the walls perfectly framed in custom-made wooden frames (I checked). And oh these local ceramics and glass (recommended in the gallery). Art that you live with and art that you use (again, a strong reference to Japan).

And then there's the wine, the seafood, the sun-warmed skin, the freckles on our daughter's nose and the bats flying over our heads as we dip our bottoms in the now-cold pool. This is the world we love to return to and bring home in its details. It surprises me every time how well it fits my eclectic mix of Japan, Scandinavia and old France.

Iron handle for wooden cupboard door in a mountain finca Nou Dalt Muntanya.