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Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

Hues of Design

Masquespacio is a Spanish multifaceted design company with a focus on interior design and branding started in 2010 by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse. By Priyal Sood

MASQUESPACIO-RUBIO-SCALE ARCHITECTURAL AND DESIGN MAGAZINE

Masquespacio has designed the space with an interactive character and a futuristic aesthetics, evoking the essence of the famed publisher, Rubio, which has been a history of over 60 years.

The avant-garde nature of Masquespacio’s design concepts and stunning ideas have not only granted them worldwide recognition but also the title of ‘Interior Designers of The Year’ by the Spanish edition of The New York TimesT Magazine and the “Wave of the Future” award by Hospitality Design USA.

A curious peep-hole, a time machine, a roulette telling the publisher’s history, a tunnel of colour and a projection room are but a few of the surprises that have been included in the project.

MASQUESPACIO-RUBIO-SCALE ARCHITECTURAL AND DESIGN MAGAZINESome of their most celebrated projects include The Kaikaya, a 120 square metre tropical-themed restaurant in Valencia portrays the amalgamation of a Japanese and Brazilian concept with a strong focus on bright colours to complete the eclectic design.

The Kaikaya designed by Masquespacio studio - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

The design of Kaikaya, a Japanese restaurant uses materials that refer to Japan like wood and raffia, together with elements that bring in the tropicals from Brazil with its colourful patterns and exuberant usage of materials and colours.

Masquespacio’s own design studio in Valencia is a treat for the eyes as the entire space is designed keeping in mind the brands identity and versatile nature of projects the firm has completed. Not doing things by the book, and believing in the mantra, “Colour creates emotions, awakes sensations and highlights joy”, the team at Masquespacio has plans to storm the interior design market of their country.

The Kaikaya designed by Masquespacio studio - Scale Architectural and Design MagazineThe Kaikaya designed by Masquespacio studio - Scale Architectural and Design MagazineSCALE had the opportunity to interview this powerhouse of a team.

“We think beauty is in the imperfection of handmade craftsmanship”

Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

Ana Hernandez and Christophe Penasse

Founders of Studio – Masquespacio

SCALE: Who are Ana Hernandez and Christophe Penasse? Could you tell us about yourself? A little bit about your background and how did you choose this field of design?

Ana: I was born in Bogotá and during my childhood, I helped my mother from time to time who is an event planner specialized in floral design. When I was 17, I decided to move to Valencia, Spain and study interior design as I was always amazed by the architecture and interior design during my adolescence.

Christophe: I was born in Belgium and studied marketing in my country. Around 23 and after working in companies like Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Federal Express, during my holiday as a student, I decided to follow my dream and move to Spain, a country that attracted me for its particular lifestyle. I first started to study Spanish and afterward, I started to work at the commercial department of German Cash & Carry chain Makro.

SCALE: In 2010 Masquespacio was created, what was the driven force behind this entrepreneurial success? Could you tell us more about the creative consultancy process?

Ana: I just finished my studies and we were in the middle of a terrible financial crisis in Spain. Valencia, as a small city was really hard hit and when I started to search for work there were no opportunities. As a matter of fact, the few available were more related to the technical development of projects and I was more interested in the creative part. Christophe then convinced me to start our own studio.

refurbish homes designed by Masquespacio Studio - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

The designs that Masquespacio created for Roca in Casa Decor pay tribute to ceramics and its features in interior design and decoration, with a nod to contemporary Greco-Roman architecture and to surrealist fantasies that give us a feeling of timelessness.

Christophe: I was passing for a difficult moment at work and wasn’t finding my way in life. I had an entrepreneurial spirit, selling and buying things, setting up events and I was convinced that one day I would set up my own company. As Ana was in search of work, we decided to set-up a business plan and strategy to start our own studio and find our own clients.

Ana: At the beginning, the business model was focused on the opportunity during the crisis to refurbish homes with a low cost, but creative design. Although after designing the first home we decided our forte was hospitality and retail projects as it gave us the possibility to be creative with our designs. During the winter of 2016, we realized that we were converting our creative studio with a clear passion for interior and product design into an agency that offered all types of design services. The number of branding projects was growing fast though fewer interior design projects were coming in.

Christophe: Hence, we decided to stop doing any branding and graphic related projects and focus on our passion, interior and product design.

SCALE: Looking back at your journey in the last 10 years, Masquespacio has designed outstanding projects. Which are the two most memorable projects and why?

Ana: The first one is without a doubt Nozomi Sushi Bar.The clients gave us the opportunity to take time to learn a new culture and type of cuisine. So, we started to study Japanese and sushi culture and together with the client learnt their experiences. In an early stage of our career they trusted in us to develop their dream restaurant which was a unique experience for us. Another important project is the first collection of furniture we designed, our Toadstool collection as it showed us in a new path of passion and declared our love for product design.

The Student Hotel-Barcelona designed by Studio Masquespacio - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

The Student Hotel co-living, co-working business model provides a unique hybrid destination for a fast-growing international community. Current locations include Rotterdam, Amsterdam (City and West), The Hague, Groningen, and Eindhoven.

Christophe: The Toadstool collection is the expression of who Ana is: colourful, explosive, with alot of contrasts; but also expresses really well our design language. Other important projects where the two residences we designed for The Student Hotel in Barcelona, as it was the biggest projects until then and it gave us the opportunity to learn how to develop interior design projects on a bigger scale. And of course, the exhibition and products we develop for Poggi Ugoto celebrate 100 years during the Milan Design Week was a unique experience for us. Tobe able to learn and work with Poggi Ugo’s artisans and see their passion for craftsmanship marked an important turning point for us.

The Student Hotel-Barcelona designed by Studio Masquespacio - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

Each corner, decorative detail, and visual element of The Student Hall aspires to blend perfectly with a student’s lifestyle by being part of their daily activities and be a source of inspiration as well.

The Student Hotel-Barcelona designed by Studio Masquespacio - Scale Architectural and Design MagazineSCALE: As we see through your projects there is an emphasis on bold-bright colours. What is the impact of colour on the psychology of a person and how he perceives a space?

Ana: Colour creates emotions, awakes sensations, and highlights joy.

For The Student Hotel, Masquespacio developed a design keeping with the brand’s image while adding a touch of Mediterranean through the use of local materials and a bold colour palette.

The Student Hotel-Barcelona designed by Studio Masquespacio - Scale Architectural and Design MagazineChristophe: Some will like it and some will not, but we think it is part of the attraction point of creating that unique and relaxing experience we are trying to achieve in every space.

SCALE: 2020 has put us all “thinking outside the box” with our work. What are some of the modifications you are implying with regard to the complete design process and efficiently assisting your clients?

Ana: We are trying specifically to convince them to take this moment to trust craftsmanship instead of industrial solutions. We think beauty is in the imperfection of this craftsmanship. We are also trying to work more locally, even with clients that are in other countries. We are even introducing some of these processes by our team directly.

SCALE: What is the next step for Masquespacio? Are there any projects we can be on the lookout for?

Ana: We were preparing to launch our new brand Mas Creations during the Milan design week in April, but due to the Virus situation it was cancelled. Now we have been working hard during the lockdown to make this launch much more impactful and at the same time seek options to launch it digitally during these weeks.

Masquespacio’s design of Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine

Christophe: Mas Creations is the personal vision of Ana and I. It will be a completely independent vision that will showcase our universe through installations, products and a lot of inspiration. Next to the projects we are developing for our customers, Mas Creations will be of much importance in our future evolution.

Masquespacio’s design of Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse - Scale Architectural and Design Magazine
All Images Courtesy: Masquespacio

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