For some, working within the confines of tradition can be limiting — stuffy, plain, old fashioned, these are just some of the adjectives that are sometimes applied to past designs. But for others, tradition means the exact opposite. It’s the chance to forge new paths from old roots, to breathe life in to antiquated style — it’s an opportunity to revive, refresh and pay homage to what came before. Namali Schleberger and Linus Gerdemann of “Soul Escapes” fall into the latter camp, and that’s largely why they’re responsible for some of the most sought after properties in Mallorca.
Originally from Germany, the pair met and fell in love on the island, subsequently deciding that this was where they wanted the rest of their lives to unfold. As a result, Soul Escapes was born, its sole purpose to create a unique collection of properties that represent the island’s true essence. Located in the tumbling green valleys of Valdemossa and with more plots in the countryside surrounding the quaint village of Binissalem, the pair have designed and built properties that sit in harmony with island nature, borrowing from its beauty to seamlessly blend past with future.
“Everything we build looks like it’s already been here for a long time,” Namali explains. “We respect their way of building here on the island so we want it to look like our properties have been here forever, but with modern touches, of course.” The results are rustic stone facades and traditionally tiled roofs — houses that fuse with neighbouring buildings and add to the existing sense of heritage. “Our way of designing is naturally very traditional,” she adds. “People fall in love with the environment and materials available here so why not take advantage of that?”
Namali herself knows a thing or two about the importance of place, space and quality materials. A former TV producer and production designer who’s worked at the Emmy’s and the Eurovision Song Contest, she has 17 years of experience in bringing stages to life, a skill that’s now transferred to interior design. “I’m a very visual person,” she says with a smile. “I always think in terms of cameras so everything in a room has to conjure a good feeling and every perspective must be perfect. When you enter a room creating emotion is the most important thing — it’s exactly the same in TV.”
Linus, meanwhile, is a former professional cyclist, and on countless two-wheeled adventures he’s uncovered every picturesque corner of the island, scouting out ideal spots for new plots along the way. He tends to take care of the acquisition of and subsequent project management of each home, but together the pair covers every aspect of the process, pouring expertise and love into the foundations of each build. “We trust each other,” Linus explains. “And our main goal is always if we ourselves would want to live there. If we both think it’s magical, then our main criteria is fulfilled.”
“The demand here on the island now is very high,” he continues. “Fortunately, we were able to secure our countryside house builds with old building licences, which has made them very attractive to buyers.” Indeed, with houses ranging from 400 to 800sqm on plots of 15,500m² to 58,000m², they’re already causing a buzz. “Properties like these simply don’t exist anymore,” he concludes.
Add to this mix the fact that Mallorca has become an increasingly attractive destination in which to lay down roots, and it’s a recipe for success. Nevertheless, it’s maintaining the integrity of each build that continues to motivate Namali and Linus. “We didn’t want to have one formula so we’ve tried to make each house individual,” Linus says. “Our philosophy is in trying to create new communities and not just following existing markets. Finding hidden gem spots that have magic potential.”
Of this, they can’t be doubted. Each of the Valdemossa properties boasts large windows allowing light to flood the rooms, and drawing the gaze out towards the epic Tramuntana. “We play with the sun and we’ve tried to capture as much of the views as possible,” Namali says. “We had to work with very strict regulations, but I think that’s good because it preserves the beauty of the village. It’s so important to respect what’s already here.” Innovation has played an important role too, with modern touches like underfloor heating allowing traditionally small windows to be replaced with bigger frames. “It’s about finding that synergy between traditional and modern,” she adds.
Inside, luxury abounds but there are constant nods to the area’s past with reclaimed wooden beams and doors, natural stone facades and lime-washed painted walls. “The little details are so important,” Namali affirms. “Just by walking in the countryside here you get so much inspiration. All you need to do is open your eyes.” Working with great people has also been a real boost. “We try as much as we can to source from the island and to use the expertise of local artisans,” she adds. “We’re lucky to have such an amazing team working on the projects with us. Our architect, project manager, construction companies and our office team work with passion and that’s what you will feel at the end when you enter the properties. Every detail has been considered very carefully.”
For now, the projects are still ongoing, but it won’t be long before the scramble to secure these subtle but stunning properties begins. And for Namali and Linus, the drive to reinvigorate what came before continues. “Our biggest inspiration is the idea of Mediterranean living,” she smiles. “We strongly believe that anyone coming to the island doesn’t want somewhere that looks like it’s from LA. That’s why we dived head first into this lifestyle and fell in love with it.”