There is no doubt that architects are an interesting bunch and the Blakstad team have some amazing stories to tell, but set aside the prestige assigned to the designers and you’ll find our support staff are not only indispensable but pretty fascinating as well. Sophie Tunks Méndez joined the Blakstad studio to provide administrative assistance and take some of the pressure off Ángeles, the Queen of the Office. Sophie’s calm presence and ability to wrangle a diverse team of personalities, including managing director Rolf Blakstad’s calendar, has brought some order to the chaos of a hyper-busy office.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Crowborough, a small village in East Sussex but was quickly taken to Formentera as a three-week-old baby. My childhood was idyllic, and I am very grateful to my parents for this choice. At the age of 15, my family moved from Formentera to Ibiza after Rolf’s mother, Mary Blakstad offered my father a job teaching at Morna Valley School. I remember this move as one of the most exciting events of my youth!
Where and what did you study?
I completed my basic education at the Escuela Nacional San Francisco Javier in Formentera followed by O Levels at Morna Valley School in Ibiza. Some years later in London, I studied for the English-Spanish Diploma in Translation with The Institute of Linguists and later also qualified as a translator specialising in child protection. I gained an International House Certificate in Language Teaching to Adults and also got my Diploma in Public Services Interpreting from the Institute of Linguists. I spent 13 years working in the UK as a linguist; translator and interpreter, language assessor and Spanish tutor before I returned to Ibiza.
How did you come to be working at Blakstad?
I needed a change of direction and didn’t think twice when I got a call from Rolf asking if I would like to join his team. I have not looked back since.
What was your connection to Blakstad before coming to work here?
I have known the Blakstad family since the day my family moved to Ibiza from Formentera 40 years ago. We have always been closely connected in one way or another and I always admired Rolph Senior’s creativity, passion and work ethic. Rolf Junior or RJ as many know him, has inherited the same traits and so has his brother Nial in the construction side of the business. The third brother, Po, is also a Master but in his case, it is in real estate.
Describe a normal work day.
My workday starts at 8am and is never boring; there is no time to be bored. There is a constant flow of clients, and our architects and technicians are always going back and forth between the office and site visits and meetings. We get a variety of visitors from artists and publishers to photographers and curious passers-by wondering what is behind the walls of the imposing whitewashed roadside building from which we work. Despite all this, we are a quiet team which suits me well.
What do you like most about your work?
I like that there is always something new to learn, that the company is expanding and reaching far and wide, and that interest in the ‘Blakstad House’ is so far-reaching.
What do you like most about working at Blakstad?
My colleagues are my favourite part of my job and I appreciate each and every one of them. They are a breath of fresh air! We are a real team and I value this very much.
What do you find most challenging?
Sometimes, I feel like we are racing against time!
If you could go anywhere in the world to experience the architecture and design, where would you go?
There is such a variety of awesome architecture in the world that choosing one is not easy but if I had to choose, I would say that Italy offers the most inspiring architecture where the combination of art and architecture is so breathtakingly beautiful and surreal.
What do you love most about living and working in Ibiza?
Ibiza is my home and having spent several long periods away has only made me appreciate the island and the lifestyle it offers more. I am grateful for the clean air, countryside walks, having the sea on my doorstep, the pace of life and the equal balance of work and play. I am lucky and I know it.