Exchanging cultural ideas

Ibiza has been a global phenomenon for decades now. The island’s name hovers on the lips of dreamers across the world, those fantasising about a certain way of life. Without a doubt that fantasy involves living in a beautiful, whitewashed villa, however not everyone can pack up their lives and move to a paradisical island. This means more and more people across the world are getting in touch with Blakstad Design Consultants to commission projects in the Blakstad style within their own communities. Our international stable of designs is growing exponentially and it seems every week brings a new set of enquiries and new projects in far flung locales.

International clients tend to find us through our social media channels or from word-of-mouth personal recommendations – the very best kind. We suspect clients have the outline of their preferred lifestyle sketched out and embark on a digital journey to uncover who can add the bricks and mortar to make their dream a reality. The steady flow of messages we receive indicates the Blakstad style is greatly admired across the world and naturally we are thrilled.

After the initial enquiry, the Blakstad team meets with the new client over phone or video call. As with all our clients, this is the moment where we feel each other out, sharing our backstories and start to work out the nuances of what the client is seeking, their vision for the future and the lifestyle they wish to build. “Communication is key in all of our interactions but especially with people from overseas,” says Blakstad associate architect Xavier Blesa. “We are working with different cultures and different architectural histories and distance must not impede the quality of the work.”

While the architects start to draught their initial ideas the rest of the team work on due diligence, pursuing information on the location and what design and building restrictions might be in place. “Every location has government mandated style guidelines,’ says Blesa. “For example, in Arizona, we were not permitted to do our normal whitewash. Houses there must be exposed stone or adobe to fit in with the cultural heritage. All the houses in Alacati must have peaked roofs and in Honduras, the summer is very wet and winter is very mild but prone to hurricanes so the design must reflect these immutable facts. It can be challenging but also very stimulating.”

As the design process proceeds, the architects assigned to the project will do a site visit to inspect the plot, meet the clients face to face and start building relationships with local contractors. “When we work overseas or on mainland Spain, we always engage with local crews for the construction process,” says Blesa. So far there are Blakstad homes in Scottsdale, Arizona; Lamu, Kenya; Santa Barbara, California; Alacati, Turkey; Turks and Caicos; an island in Honduras and countless locations in Mallorca and mainland Spain.

The Blakstad style transfers wonderfully to other locations. “Many of the places we go to have similar climates to Ibiza, but the landscape can be very different,” says Blesa. Arizona’s dry desert environment is distinctive from the pine-covered valleys and hills of Ibiza and yet the project there appears to have developed naturally from the area’s venerated architectural heritage. In fact, the adobe pueblo style common in Arizona contains many similarities to the vernacular architecture of Ibiza with soft edges, niche shelving and single story flat roofed homes echoing a similar history of creative development and architectural problem solving.

The Blakstad team participate in several site visits during the design and construction of international projects to supervise and advise the local team. “Working internationally is always exciting,” says Blesa. “The most interesting thing is the chance to see different architectural styles and then figure out how to adapt them. Collaborating with different teams from different cultures and architectural histories is always fascinating. We learn a lot during the process. It becomes a real exchange of ideas culturally and professionally.”

Expanding the Blakstad style and expertise to other countries connects the team even more to Ibiza. Sharing our small island’s architectural story with others is a real joy and proves to us again and again that timelessness is the true key to everlasting style. Despite the modernisations and innovations in our designs, the foundational concepts are the same as they were hundreds of years ago. Seeing these designs take root in other locations outside of Ibiza confirms that the island’s style and lifestyle are coveted around the world, and Blakstad Design Consultants are proud to be just one of Ibiza’s global ambassadors.