For 170 years, from one generation to the next, the building was home to a family-run business. This came to an end in 2020 when the inheritors of the property decided to sell it to its current owners, the artist Mario Antón and his partner, Kenneth López, who already owned the former French consulate on the island. “We found it online while we were waiting to board a flight in Berlin. We made an offer sight unseen. Two days later we had an agreement with the owners and we flew to the island to see the property and to close the deal,” Kenneth recalls. That is how things work in the 21st century, something that no one knows better than Kenneth does, as a tech executive with more than 20 years working in the digital space.
The goal of the renovation was clear: to design a home that could also house the couple’s art collection, which was then divided between their home in Menorca and their apartment in London. They also wanted space for a studio for Mario, where he could create his very personal triptychs, inspired by antiques but given a contemporary twist. When asked who was responsible for the project, the couple replies: “The Santa Clara Project, that is, us.” The name comes from the street in Madrid where the couple once had an apartment (covered by AD España in its April 2019 issue). “We hide behind the project’s name to carry out some of our art projects and also from time to time when we dive in and renovate or decorate our own homes.”
While the couple discovered that the house had been, in their words, “mutilated” over the generations, with entrances added in three different parts of the building, they wanted to restore the house to its original essence as a single home. “We used local materials, principally marés [a sandstone traditionally used in many Menorca buildings], terracotta tiles, old wooden beams, and bricks that were then whitewashed,” they explain. They reused doors and sash windows recovered from the demolitions of other houses and uncovered original 19th-century beams—still covered in a layer of paint from the period—when they removed some false ceilings. The kitchens, bathrooms, and shelves were made of masonry and then whitewashed, as is traditional on Menorca. “We have not laid a single tile here,” the couple says proudly. “For us the floors and ceilings are the main protagonists.”
To furnish the house they relied on their own instincts and sense of style. There are flea market finds, auction house purchases, design classics, photos, and crafts all combined without any concern for established rules. There are gifts from decorator friends like Quintana Partners and Luis Galliussi, and items found on secondhand websites. They also acquired many pieces at galleries on the island like The Family, run by Esteban Matera, and Dorian Menorca, owned by Dorian Caffot de Fawes, as well as the store CasaM (the source of all their pillows and blankets). Mario and Kenneth—the Santa Clara Project—say they are not only completely satisfied but outright in love with the final result. There is only one thing that, in hindsight, they’re reconsidering, namely giving more space over to the bathrooms. But for now, they’ve moved onto their next project, an artists’ residence in a castle in the south of France.