For Mallorcan interior designer Maria Antònia, work means bringing home the soul, and bringing the soul home. “My husband is from Barcelona and has a background in hospitality. We were working in London when, in 2013, the time came to start a family. We decided on a move to my home island and opened ConAlmaDesign”
In starting anew the couple sought inspiration from the world around them. “We asked ourselves, ‘how can we combine our skills and draw on each other’s rich work experience?’” Artisan kitchenware was the answer, with an emphasis on chopping and presentation boards.
Naturally, Maria Antònia and Álvaro’s surroundings came to inspire the design of their new range. The couple created the wooden components. The colourful tiles, meanwhile, which are a particularly attractive feature of ConAlma’s range, are made in collaboration with a Mallorcan craftswoman. The tilemaker’s knowledge of ancient techniques complements Maria Antònia’s appreciation for contemporary aesthetics and Álvaro’s imaginative streak.
It’s not just the couple’s home environment that informs their work, however. “For the tile designs, as well as incorporating traditional patterns, we think about where we’ve been on our family holidays.” A recent trip to the English capital is a case in point. “We brought the kids to see our old home. We spent many happy hours in big, green city parks like Hampstead Heath.” Now, with their Royal Garden range, ConAlma pays tribute to the wildflowers of grassy English meadows and, simultaneously, classic British design.
The pieces are finished at the ConAlma workshop in Binissalem. “It’s taken time to get where we are now,” says Maria Antònia of the charming space. “Along the way we’ve made mistakes, yes, but they’ve allowed us and our designs to improve. Each mistake is like a key to another door of possibility.”
Faith in Innovation
Faith has played an important role in their progress. “Belief in each other and our collaborators is vital for our work.” Happily, the couple has much in common, such as a dedication to family life and a love of music. “We like to listen while working. Of course it helps that we have similar taste in music!”
This habit led to one of Álvaro’s innovations. During the pandemic, he realised, online customers were hankering for the experiential as much as the material. Gigging musicians, meanwhile, had been deprived of income. “We were thinking of a favourite singer, María Pascual. We asked her to record a song for ConAlma. Customers listened by scanning a QR code included with their deliveries.”
It’s little touches like this that make ConAlma’s range more than “just products”, as Maria Antònia says with justifiable pride. “They are also mirrors of experience: both our experience as travellers, and of the many generations who, over time, influenced the designs, both ancient and contemporary, that appear on our boards.” ConAlma’s deceptive simplicity, it seems, is born of the soulful efforts of many; past and present.
Text by Ciarán McCollum / Photos by Sara Savage