Anna Burkhart, co-founder of El POP, talks about how her design studio is championing sustainable practices.
Husband-and-wife duo Anna and Evgeny Burkhart set up high-end design studio El Pop in 2014. Since then, they’ve become known for their form-meets-function homes that embrace and elevate classic Ibicencan style. Their calming and forward-thinking designs are synthesised from the island’s locally sourced, natural materials and the use of traditional techniques that prioritise longevity. El POP also creates bespoke furniture and sells a range of pieces on its website, from chairs and garden furniture to fireplaces and light fittings.
The practice has turned their hand to projects in all corners of Ibiza, from apartments in the old town of Dalt Vila to fincas in the countryside. Their reputation reaches mainland Europe too, including Cannes, Barcelona, Vienna and the Côte d’Azur. “Before coming to Ibiza, we designed several upmarket properties around Europe,” says Anna. “Having worked with very discerning clients, taking on upscale projects comes naturally to us. Very few designers on Ibiza were working in this way, so we were able to easily create a niche here.”
The couple were drawn to the cosmopolitan feel of Ibiza. Its vibrant mix of people and culture, its natural beauty as well as its Mediterranean climate lead the design-focused pair to permanently settle on the island. “We bought the house of our dreams here,” Anna smiles. “As architects, we’re fans of beauty and Ibiza never fails to impress us. The scenery is breathtaking and the climate certainly helps.”
The studio specialises in renovations of existing buildings, old fincas and historical houses, focusing exclusively on private houses. “We are a boutique company, and as such, we prefer to divide our time between a limited number of ongoing projects so that we know we’re delivering the best possible results,” Anna explains. El POP’s approach makes a statement of Ibiza’s idiosyncratic architecture; they restore stone cladding on the walls, use natural lime plaster and lime-based paints as well as retaining the silhouettes of certain types of facades or structural features. Each space is intended to seamlessly blend with the local vernacular, feeling at once natural and modern. “We use clean lines and organic materials – nothing artificial,” Anna says, “we’re not interested in making crazy or mind-blowing work. We’d rather create spaces that feel calm and relaxing. I love the way the old houses have been built, so we try to respect the traditions and roots of where we are.”
When it comes to interiors, El POP produces custom-made furniture on the island using sustainably grown wood like Sabina. They partner with local artisans and work with local suppliers of stone and marble unique to the island. The marble is then carved into freeform basins or bathroom and kitchen countertops. “When you live on an island, sustainability is a natural concern. You start to worry about the purity of the water, the cleanliness of the air. You think about what you do with your waste and how you live,” Anna notes. “We try to use solar energy when possible and let our environmentally-conscious ethos shape the way we design as much as we can.”
As architects, we’re fans of beauty and Ibiza never fails to impress us. The scenery is breathtaking and the climate certainly helps.
- Anna Burkhart, Founder
Among recent projects is a historical finca in San Lorenzo, in which El POP used its typical soothing palette of natural timbers, organic stone and woven lights. Stairs disappear into walls while recessed nooks and shelving cut out clean lines, leaving the flow of the space uninterrupted. Another one of El POP projects in Forada involved a finca-inspired design that, at the request of the client, uses hemp blocks for construction. “We’re so motivated when clients have progressive ideas – it makes it fun and creates a nice balance,” Anna reflects. “When we have a certain amount of freedom for our ideas and we work with open-minded people, those are the projects that have the best end result.” Though the home in Forada was a new build, it was inspired by traditional local shapes and style. The house was designed to be off grid, using solar panels to generate electricity and drawing water from a well. Stone floors, arched doorways and exposed wooden beams lend the home a sense of island history.
El POP are well-versed in Ibicencan design and their commitment to eco-friendly practices that elongate the life of existing buildings is one that should shape the future of the design industry.