It’s been a few months now, and I’m settling in nicely. I’ve found an apartment in a fun part of town, the Brooklyn of Palma, Santa Catalina. As I discover the old towns nestled all over the island, the indie shops and makers, the endless coves, and I meet the Mallorcans and expats that populate this gorgeous island, the layers of culture and possibility are coming ever more to life, as am I !
The layer I am most delighted by is the authentic one – the one in which cafecitos and tostadas are had in locals’ bars and cafes, where the quick Catalan chatter is about everyday life and the ages are super varied. These are tucked around the corner from the trendy new yummy cafes, of which there are many, that could be in any capital city. There are a few spots dotting the city where the local drunks hang around – these provide a special level of entertainment – loud male camaraderie and somehow friendly arguments about love and politics unfold among wobbling characters of every ilk.
Favorite days are spent cruising the old town for the oldest (and best) forns or bakeries, meeting the knife sharpener in his little shop, the cane chair fixers, the old school fabric shop with it’s remaining rolls from the 70’s. I’m drawn like a firefly to local materials, makers, sense of humor, and history. It’s about traditional cuisine, local agriculture, and permaculture, too. I’ve been promised a freshly baked coca, the fine yet rustic local vegetable tart, made by aunt Margarita in Bunyola. Apparently hers is the best on the island. Of course it’s like chicken soup, everyone thinks their mom’s is the best – but I suspect Margarita’s really is.
A place where this love of authentic culture gels in the most sophisticated way is in the legendary finca’s, especially the ones which are renovated honoring their original structure, preserving their heritage design and function languages. I’ve seen extraordinary fire places taking up a whole stone nook, floor to ceiling. Seating arrangements can involve multiple benches and shelves, both carved from and built into a wall, then appointed with very inviting natural materials like linen, jute, and palm. A comfort balance is achieved with carefully updated plumbing and electric, and clean and modern fixtures where needed. This is the apex of rustic luxury, the ultimate for me. The pool is small and made of stone. Everything is both fabulous and sustainable. Oh, the views. The Sierra Tramuntana, World Heritage site, is the backdrop. Rolling hills with ancient olive trees nestle all around. The deep blue sapphire sea sparkles below. I’m referring to one particular finca as I wax on at the moment.. are you curious about this spot I’m talking about?
So dear readers, my new chapter is happening, and my career is developing towards a new role I’m trying to name – “authentic culture consultant” or “conscious design curator!” My friend and colleague Jason Siegel giggled when he heard it, saying it sounded like ” shaman bottle service,” a fluffy moniker he imagined might be useful for folks offering evening hospitality in today’s Tulum!
Authenticity. Natural Materials. Sustainable Consumerism. Global Local Culture. Slow Design. Independent Businesses. Entrepreneurial Empowerment.
What I find myself focused on these days is slow culture and design in all their facets. I know this stuff, I’m naturally and powerfully drawn to it, been learning about it steadily all my life. In the last decade of my career the interest has grown more formal and intentional, studying sustainability, working closely with artisans and natural materials. I’m invited inside the ateliers, the fincas, the studios, the kitchens, the shops – all over the world and now in Mallorca – to meet the makers and people who are in this choir with me. An expert, consultant, advisor, mentor.. what will this new role gel as? How do you define the work you do when your experience wheelhouse gets fuller and your intentions for how to be of service to people and business evolves… ?