Being confined to our homes for many months certainly highlighted the significance of many things in life – from the value of human connection, to the importance of being truly happy with the environment in which we live. For Alberto Cortes, owner of Ibiza design haven KsaR Living, creating comfortable, stylish and most importantly, liveable spaces has been a lifelong passion – a love affair that started with textiles and fashion over 25 years ago, and grew into a deep adoration, and some may say, an obsession for what he calls ‘holiday architecture’.
What is KsaR Living ‘holiday architecture’ exactly? It’s one part art, another part science and the rest pure instinct. You see, Alberto – who was born in Barcelona, grew up in Amsterdam and now spends his time between the Balearics, Marrakech and Indonesia – is a natural born designer. He sees a fabric, a piece of wood or a slab of marble and can instantly envision its potential to become sofa upholstery, a table or dresser, or a bathroom shelf. At the same time, he intrinsically understands the environments in which his creations will live – in Ibiza, for example, he knows that older, reclaimed teak wood can survive the relentless sunshine and high humidity levels when used in outdoor furnishings. And finally, it is his sharp intuitive skills that brings an entire space together – knowing exactly what will work for his clients’ unique holiday needs.
In addition to sourcing stylish for the KsaR Living warehouse and showroom – located on a winding stretch of the San Juan road in Ibiza’s northern countryside – Alberto also designs his own signature collections, made with reclaimed wood hailing from all corners of the globe. Beds, tables, vanities, chairs, daybeds, doors and more – there is no limit to what he can create, including custom pieces designed to fit large Ibiza villas, hotels or restaurants. Reclaimed wood itself is another of Alberto’s passions – first of all, for its obvious beauty, uniqueness, and proven durability, but also for the element of sustainability. “I feel a little bit guilty with my work,” says the designer with genuine humility. “I love design, but I don’t want to cut down trees to make my furniture. I understand that a shop is a shop, and not everything we sell can be 100% sustainable, but for my own designs, I do what I can to preserve the environment.”
He first discovered reclaimed wood in Indonesia around 25 years ago. Be it planks of colourful wood that was once a fishing boat, ornately carved doors that no longer served a purpose, disused railway sleepers, old beams and decking from Javanese houses, ancient rice harvesters – just because they were no longer needed for their original purposes, didn’t mean they couldn’t be transformed into something new and practical. In these old, weathered woods, Alberto could imagine future pieces of furniture, and he began working with experienced carpenters in an atelier in Bali to create the KsaR Living collections – artisans with whom he still collaborates to this day.
While you may think old, discarded wood could be easy to source, it’s actually a commodity that is becoming more scarce and expensive year on year, as supplies dwindle and demand increases. Over the years, Alberto has enlisted the world’s finest reclaimed wood dealers – from Spain and Holland to Morocco and Indonesia among other places – to supply him with unique and certified materials. Each and every piece of reclaimed wood used in the KsaR Living collections has been hand-picked by Alberto on his travels, safely stored until he is ready to work his design magic on them. His personal favourite types of wood to work with are teak and ironwood, both ideal for the climate in Ibiza, and both known to mature with beauty.
“I love the patina of reclaimed wood,” Alberto explains. “It has so much character, it speaks.” The dryness of this older wood also means it is more durable than softer, plantation woods, again perfect to adapt into pieces designed for the Ibiza lifestyle – the rusticity too, lending itself perfectly to the contemporary bohemian look that is so loved for an Ibiza villa. “It’s tough, and durable. It’s heavy and hard. It doesn’t crack when being shipped or as it’s being built into furniture.” The beauty of working with this type of material is that although the model of furniture may be the same style, no two pieces will ever be alike due to the characteristics of the wood. And the beauty of shopping in KsaR Living is that if you see something you like, you can snap it up and have it delivered within 24 hours – Alberto’s philosophy is to always have plenty of stock on hand so his customers can have instant gratification.
Much of the KsaR Living collection is oversized – designed for lazing, lounging, resting and relaxing. “I am a workaholic, but I also love to be lazy,” laughs Alberto when asked about his inspiration. “Comfort is so important, along with practicality. If you have an outdoor living space, it’s important to be able to stretch out on the furniture – to really live in the space.” With this in mind, he also works with an amazing selection of durable, waterproof and colourfast textiles – hand-picked again, from designer brands around the world – to create cushions of all shapes and sizes, to upholster sofas, or create throws for daybeds. In 2020, Alberto has also introduced a new collection of reclaimed hemp fabric pieces, hailing from Istanbul, to KsaR Living. “It’s the perfect fabric for Ibiza,” he explains. “It’s strong and durable, but very cooling in the summer.”
With a deep understanding of his customers’ lifestyles and needs, especially after the crisis, Alberto has added another unique offering to the KsaR Living collection this season that really makes spending time at home a pure joy. High-end pots and pans – dubbed ‘foodwear’ – designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for KnIndustrie are the final piece of the puzzle that his clients in Ibiza were missing. “I love cooking,” Alberto says. “I cook every day, and I also know many of my customers enjoy having more time to cook when they are on holiday in Ibiza. This is what the island was missing – beautiful cookware that is fun, practical and stylish.” Chic stone-washed pots and pans have innovative removable handles made from walnut wood, that mean you can deliver a sharing-style dish to the centre of the table and turn it into a serving bowl. Add amazing chef’s knives, designed by BE-KNife for KnIndustrie, vintage style cutlery in a variety of finishes, plus stunning dishwasher-proof, handmade ceramic plates and bowls in gorgeous organic shapes, and it seems you really can kit our your entire home for summer at KsaR Living. More than just holiday architecture, you’ll find everything you need to go along with holiday living.