How 3 creatives established their businesses in Mallorca

Meet three interior designer who relocated to Mallorca

The three businesspeople we interviewed for hc/ Living in Mallorca are all different. They come from different places, have varying life experiences and followed their own individual paths to eventually arrive in Mallorca. One thing each holds steadfast to, though, is a certain attitude.

It takes grit, determination and a readiness to face challenges head on to pack up and move to another country. Establishing a business can be tough under ‘normal’ circumstances, but doing so in a foreign-speaking land is even tougher. Sarah Jane Nielsen, Jürgen Deimbacher and Charlotte Wiessner are all interior designers with new business operations on the island. Here, they open up about the highs and lows of building success in the Balearics, what they wish they’d known from the beginning and their top tips for other creatives thinking of doing the same.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take is their rallying cry – and they don’t regret a thing.

Grow, connect, prosper

CARLO Palma Architecture & Interior


“When it comes to business relocation strategy, careful consideration is key,” says Charlotte Wiessner, founder of CARLO Palma Architecture & Interior Design. Explore how your business can differentiate from similar ones in the niche, is her advice: “Try to find aspects or services you can deliver that others cannot.”

Coordinating the move from Germany, the architect and interior designer has at times experienced overwhelming feelings at having to deal with what seems like “a thousand” things at once. But, she always dreamed of living the Mediterranean life and was fascinated by the synergies that occur between local designers, artisans, artists, and the use of local resources and materials.

“This is something unique that happens here in a very special way.”

It was after completing their first Mallorca project, a holiday finca in Santanyí, that Wiessner and her partner started contemplating a move from Berlin to Palma with their two children. It wasn’t a decision they took lightly, but one year on they’re “super happy” and exciting new projects are on the horizon.

Balearic winter chill

One aspect the family was underprepared for was the island’s winter climate.

“The book A Winter in Majorca by George Sand was pretty accurate in describing the humid cold. Coming from Germany I wouldn´t expect that the winter here could be so cold.”

For Wiessner, the experience served to reinforce her assertion that design goes hand in hand with function, and she and her team place great emphasis on integrating climate comfort into the planning process. Adaptation is a massive learning process, helped greatly by Wiessner’s fluency in Spanish and wide network of connections. Her children, too, have adjusted to communicating in three languages, a feat she’s very proud of.

Business Community

One of the biggest blessings and surprises the entrepreneur has encountered is Mallorca’s sense of business community.

“Being a newcomer in a country it feels great to have people around you who are interested in helping you move forward and grow your business. I was amazed by the people I met through the business community founded by Helen Cummins.

“My first tip is to find similar-minded people, who get you not only in the right mindset, but are also an audience who could potentially like and appreciate your product.” Finally, cultivating a sunny and optimistic approach to reinventing your life and livelihood is vital. “As a family you have to see it as an adventure; as a business owner you have to see it as an opportunity,” Wiessner says.

Making the cut

Studio Passmani

Jürgen Deimbacher

Creative director of Studio Passmani, Jürgen Deimbacher, heads a multidisciplinary team with offices in Vienna and Palma. Deimbacher originally studied economics, but his passion for conjuring beautiful, feel-good interior spaces led him down the design route. Studio Passmani may be headquartered in Austria, but with its internationally-active operations and Mediterranean-influenced design aesthetic, Mallorca was a natural second home.

Good sense rules

Ascribed a cool head, Deimbacher approaches business with measured caution and is not one to fall prey to preventable pitfalls. His suggestion to newcomers is to find three trustworthy mentors who already live on the island to help guide and support. “Find a reputable business partner to work with; think carefully about what you spend time on and who you spend time with.

Essential networking

Deimbacher has been pleasantly surprised by the ease with which it’s possible to meet people, form connections and communicate with others in Mallorca. It still took a lot of time invested in the form of many meetings and company presentations to land the first large job, however.

“Definitely, the moment when you receive confirmation to start your first project on the island is a huge high point,” he says. Deimbacher’s advice to entrepreneurs is to stay true to themselves: “Be unique as you are; don’t copy local business models or methods.”

Overcoming hurdles

Nielsen House

Sarah Jane Nielsen

British interior designer Sarah Jane Nielsen did extensive research before setting up Nielsen House in Mallorca, to be as prepared and confident as possible. As a British passport holder, though, nothing could ready her for the complications and hurdles brought by Brexit. Despite having an extensive family relationship with Mallorca spanning over 50 years, a great deal of the first year was spent “unravelling the ‘can dos’ and ‘can nots’ for bringing our daughters to school here and all that comes with health and living, while looking after businesses in the UK.”

Faith in her vision and the natural inspiration she feels here has helped Nielsen get through. Discovering creative partners with whom her company has a design and service synergy has been a joyful highlight.

“My aim is to bring a refreshingly new sensory solution to the island’s interior design offering,” she says, and in my experience, you cannot do this without the support and understanding of other specialist skills and local trades.

Persistence pays off

After more than four decades working on interior projects in the UK, Europe and the Middle East for exceptionally discerning clients and their families, Nielsen has developed thick skin. Confronted with the task of introducing her signature collection of trusted UK suppliers onto the Spanish island, battling with administrative and legal issues, her resilience has served her well.

Nielsen’s husband has a quantity surveyance firm which works effectively remotely, making life a little simpler. Both are still in the process of achieving competence in Spanish, but they embrace the challenge. Reward for all their effort isn’t limited to better weather. The biggest surprise, Nielsen says, is the overwhelming welcome and enthusiastic reception they’ve enjoyed.

Patience, patience

New friends, colleagues and potential clients have a clear affinity to the work of Nielsen House, headquartered in the heart of the UK’s Lake District. Applied internal finishing and textural layering of natural and sustainable materials ideally complement modern Mediterranean homes, and the design ethos Nielsen describes as “positive wellbeing” has been received with open arms.

Nielsen is happy, but has no illusions about what it takes to create a life and business in Mallorca as a Brit. “The only easy part of the transition has been the decision to move here and give it a go!” she says. “Put yourself out there as you never know where your next lead will come from. Be open to possibilities and versatile to situations and circumstances. Stay positive and share your journey with others. Above all, be patient!”

Text by Anna Mason