“Don´t despair. Things happened to me when I thought I had failed, and I realized I was just getting ready for the important things to come. Enjoy life, listen to people, read a lot, keep a child mind, water your feminine side (if you are a man) and your masculine side (if you are a woman).”
Mediterranean architecture. Timeless design. Sensitive use of raw materials. Pure lines and genuine craftsmanship. Simple yet rich. A fusion between authentic Mallorquin architecture and innovative approach. Serene houses that blur the line between indoor and outdoor living. Summed up in one sentence: Residential architecture has never been so beautiful as in the work of the architecture and design studio Moredesign. Most of you know for my books and for different design magazines I had more than 150 interviews with the best architects and designers of our time. But if I have to choose an architect for designing my own house he would be Manuel Villanueva of Moredesign. I hope you enjoy the interview with Manuel as much as I did.
What does a happy day in the life of Manuel Villanueva look like?
I wake up very early, the first one in the house, work or exercise a bit, prepare mentally for the day, wake my kids up, get breakfast ready, take them to school, and then the “fun” begins. Sometimes I go directly on site, others to the office.
Do you have a daily routine?
Yes, starting with a glass of homemade lemon juice.
When did you first discover your love of architecture?
I started architecture following my sister. I liked what I saw she was doing. But my love came later as I progressed through the university, and specially reading in the library for hours and hours and hours.
Is there something that connects all your projects?
Yes, the same desire to create a Mediterranean architecture – simple, raw, full of beauty, born from a constant dialogue with the clients.
Looking back at your first project, what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?
I will consider my first project the first one I did under Moredesign. Before then I had done multiple projects in different offices, but they weren’t mine. Our first project as Moredesign happened in 2011. I wouldn’t change a thing. Probably I was less experienced but we also had a very clear vision of what we wanted to achieve. We (my partner Oro and I) only had one project. We drew all the project together, just him and me, and I would walk to the site from my house every other day.
What architecture moves you most?
Any architecture that shares the same passion for the local traditions, taken a step further. The use of natural and ecological materials. The serene and timeless beauty. I am naturally attracted to all the architecture that happens in the Mediterrenean but also look toward Belgium for its mastery of the materials, to Asia like Studio Mumbai.
What are the most important design elements?
The intricate relations between architecture, landscape and interior design as a single act.
How does your house look like?
My house was built in the 70s. I’ve been working on it since I bought it 6 years ago… little by little.
If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?
What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?
Being on the sea in my Llault (Mallorquin boat).
What are your favorite books?
Anything written by Bolaño, also his poetry, Cortazar (Rayuela). Also everything written by Borges, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, etc.
What are your favorite places in Mallorca?
The North coast.
What does success mean to you?
Success means doing what I love to do. Having a client calling me to have a dinner 8 years later. Seeing how their life has flourished in our houses. Seeing the trees grow in their gardens.
Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?
Don´t despair. Things happened to me when I thought I had failed, and I realized I was just getting ready for the important things to come. Enjoy life, listen to people, read a lot, keep a child mind, water your feminine side (if you are a man) and your masculine side (if you are a woman).