The Mediterranean allegory of Teresa Sapey

The Italian architect invites us into her beautiful Mediterranean-inspired Palma retreat

Teresa Sapey

In the unmistakable universe of Italian architect Teresa Sapey everything revolves around art, creativity and emotions. It is no surprise she was born in Piedmont, the most cultural and elegant region of Italy, located in the historic territory of Savoy.

She arrived in Spain more than 25 years ago with her first husband. “Here is where my children have grown up and where I have developed my professional life,” she says. After graduating in architecture with honours from the Polytechnic School of Turin in 1985 (getting a university degree to largely please her parent) she later obtained a degree in Fine Arts at the Parson School of Design in Paris, driven by her childhood dream of becoming an artist.

Teresa is a genuine whirlwind of energy and this is reflected in her home in Palma’s Old Town. “This house, which is now my secret refuge, was built by an Italian corsair during the 16th century. The building was destroyed by a deliberate fire in order to force out the Genoese pirate (who had become a persona non grata in the city).

“When I discovered it, it was an extraordinary find for me and, even though at that moment its condition was not the best, I saw it had enormous potential that I would know how to make the most of,” explains Teresa.

Built in typical Mallorcan stone, it was redesigned by Teresa to reflect the ‘Sapey’ personality, without limits. She has managed to stamp her personality on the property as well as express her artistic side with walls in bold colours. However, it has maintained the traditional elements of a palazzo; high ceilings, wooden floors and large windows. The main emphasis is on the use of colour, highlighting the mural of the room designed by Teresa whose lines change direction when meeting with the steps of the stairs. “I wanted to make a contemporary palazzo. It is a tribute to the magical island of Mallorca and its Mediterranean colours: the acid yellow of lemons or the warm sun.” Teresa explains. Also the blue of the sea and sky and the presence of green on vinyl reproduces a drawing by Teresa; covering the wall of one of the bedrooms it aims to recreate the feel of a greenhouse.

The modernity of the furnishings, also designed by her, is combined with antique pieces brought from her home in Cap d’Ail and New York. The living room carpet is inspired by the sky and Palma cathedral. “For me, colour is a material to create space just like wood, steel or concrete. My projects are emblems of the power of colour and the emotions they transmit. My philosophy is to always transmit sensations. We design spaces to evoke feelings,” expresses the extraordinary artist.

She is currently developing a project in the city that excites her due to the freedom she has been granted – transforming a Mallorcan courtyard into one of the best exhibition spaces in Palma. Conceived with a strong use of colour, her favourite ‘material’, she has painted the floor with blue stripes that represent the wonderful sea of Mallorca, while red walls and red-and-yellow suns allude to the island’s hypnotic sunsets.

Ultimately, it’s a way of understanding life, and when she is here she relaxes (though if you know her that seems unlikely). Her idea of Mallorcan luxury consists of getting up late and having breakfast with the Mediterranean breeze caressing her face, dressing in light comfortable dresses and walking until reaching a beach hut with the best fish on the island. She’s someone who can appreciate the value of simplicity.

Photos by Sara Savage