For Vikki and Karl, home is an idyllic balance of old a new. Their beautiful old stone finca sits proudly in 10,000m2 of private grounds, where a Mallorcan called Pedro helps the couple harvest over 1,000 kilos of their own potatoes and reaps their golden wheat field to transform the crops into flour at the local co-operative mill. Meanwhile, dogs Morris and Barnaby roll a ball across a white stamped concrete floor leading to a gleaming crisp, white living space which shines from behind vast glass doors. Inside its’ glossy white resin floor bounces the sunlight across gleaming high tech surfaces. It’s a surprising contrast, but one that absolutely works and leaves any curious visitor wondering how it came to be there.
Knowing that a lot of photographers come to the island to shoot, Vikki suggested that the couple explored Mallorca in 2003, with the idea of house hunting a year later. When they visited the stone finca they’d found on the internet and then realised that the separate workroom in the grounds was in fact a daylight photographic studio, they bought it almost immediately. “It was incredible, it was meant to be” says Karl, explaining how their year long plan was replaced with the realisation that they “might never get such a perfect opportunity again.” The structure was already in place, but “it was a bare bones photographic studio with no water and no kitchen” just a utilitarian shell with a rough concrete floor and flimsy, bouncing stairs leading to a simple, boarded mezzanine area. Yet Karl and Vikki saw great potential in the space.
“We wanted to live in this part of the house in the winter” Karl tells me. “The old house is a typical Mallorcan construction with small windows to make it cool in the summer, but because the island is so damp, it’s not a great winter house.” Seeing that the studio could be a bright, light space “we wanted to be able to move into it for the coldest months.”
The studio therefore had to function as both a home and photographic space. “For shooting it had to be really flexible, everything had to be movable, even the kitchen island…..but part of the design was to create an oversized hotel room.” Karl designed a plan on a 3D design computer programme.
He then gave his builder the challenge of reinforcing the mezzanine with a nine ton re-enforced steel joist, so that it could take the weight of a bedroom, bathroom and sturdy staircase. He found a German glazier who came up with the idea of fitting the vast panes of glass as hanging doors, an unobtrusive, frameless solution that enabled Karl to achieve “a continuity when you looked in at and out from the space” and was also sturdy against the wind. They finally bought a beautiful old Arab door, a “piece of Mallorcan history” from Ben Jakober, when he transformed an old arab building into an art gallery in Porto Pollensa.
Following their first winter in the studio, the space has proven to be a success. It has been used as a location for many shoots and two film commercials, the most recent starring the Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. No wonder after just four days shooting abroad or being at the apartment in London Karl claims he’s “always ready to come home.”
For more information visit www.studiomallorca.com