Gemologist Ève Cazes fell under the spell of this Joan Gómez Ripoll-designed townhouse from the moment she cast eyes on it.
First impressions count. Just ask long-time island resident Ève Cazes. It was the enchanting façade of Palacio Orféo, perched at the base of Dalt Vila that initially captured her attention. All lemon-yellow plasterwork, heavy wooden doors and intricately carved ivy-toned balconies, it certainly has kerb appeal.
“In the Old Town, there are three buildings I consider noble,” begins Ève. “The Gran Hotel Montesol, the Pereira Theatre and this place, all of which were designed by the same architect. I’d admired it for years, until one day, it was for sale.”
From the outside, not much has changed since the residence was built for a Spanish navy minister – one of a handful of addresses masterminded by the legendary architect Joan Gómez Ripoll – at the end of the 19th century. Inside, however, is a different story.
In the intervening years, Palacio Orféo’s glamour had dimmed and the space was carved up into a series of rented rooms. By the time Ève became the building’s custodian, it needed a complete overhaul.
In collaboration with French architect Pascal Cheikh Djavadi, the renovations lasted three years. Conservation laws stated that the original façade and imposing staircase in the entrance hall be preserved. Aside from that, much of the footprint was reconfigured, creating an interplay between old and new. But how do you set about mixing modernity with tradition? Respecting the past but keeping a foot firmly planted in the present?
“In any renovation project, one of the essential questions we ask ourselves is how to complement the existing architecture,” notes Pascal. “In this case, it seemed to me that the best way to respect this heritage, to make it as visible as possible, was not to necessarily take that same direction, but to contrast it with more graphic forms and proportions.”
There’s a simplicity and a sumptuousness to the finished domain, which comes across in the richness of the materials used. The floor-to-ceiling Emperador marble in the master bathroom for example has been sandblasted to make it visually softer and more tactile. It echoes – or rather, elevates – the Sahara marble handrail in the magnificent hallway. The clean lines and angles also provide a fitting backdrop for striking sculptural objects, from an Asolo table by Angelo Mangiarotti to curved chairs by the Georgian designer duo Rooms Studio.
There’s a great feeling of peace to the place. We can invite friends over and the thick walls shut out the noise of the neighbourhood.
- Ève Cazes
Once describing his design trademark as “playing with emptiness”, Pascal certainly had an expansive blank canvas to play with: some 350 sqm, arranged over four levels.
“My sources of inspiration are multiple,” he continues. “The architectural past of Ibiza of course plays a role, as do my personal influences, but most important is the person in front of me. A successful project, and a project in which there is a perfect overlap between the desires and personality of the owner and the visions and point of view of an architect, is conceived with mutual respect.”
Together, Pascal and Ève have brought to life a series of interlinking rooms that evoke different moods. From the soothing solitude of each of the bedroom suites to the peaceful, reflective air of the library, Ève’s design philosophy in particular leans heavily on instinct, calling to mind the words of the French philosopher Roland Barthes: A little knowledge, a little wisdom, and a lot of flavour.
The flow between the floors was also an important consideration, elevating the sense of privacy and space. “Each of the bedrooms is arranged on a different level, so guests can come and go without disturbing each other,” adds Ève.
“There’s a great feeling of peace here. We can invite friends over and the thick walls shut out the noise of the neighbourhood. This sense of freedom means I can throw great parties, too.
“People like to ask me why I’m selling Palacio Orféo,” she continues. “It’s quite simple really, when I finish giving new life to a place, I feel a desire to start this passion again.”