Paul Wilhelm and Regina Potma didn’t know each other when they had their first Ibiza experiences; nor did they know the island would go on to play such an important role in their lives. Today, it is a symbol of their future – the place where they envision their families coming together to share a space – and their beautiful home, Can Cordeta, is a testament to their passion. Passion for each other, passion for design and of course, passion for Ibiza. Paul’s first visit was in 1991, when he felt an instant connection to the hippy vibes and bohemian spirit. Year after year, he would return, renting villas for a month at a time with groups of friends until eventually, he was inspired to invest in a plot of land to create a holiday home of his own. In 2006, some friends led him to a rocky, dry plot in Es Cubells – needing much work and much love to transform it into a home – and he knew he had found the place.
Regina had her own unique connection to Ibiza; born in Rio de Janeiro to her Dutch father and Brazilian mother, later schooled internationally in Washington DC, it was a subconscious desire to connect with nature that saw her seek out the white isle after the birth of her first child in 2002. It was at that time her father told her of his youthful travels to the island, telling her of the authentic sense of freedom he had felt. Suddenly, she had a feeling of arriving home. The connection was to both her birthplace and her family. When two became one seven years ago, Paul and Regina embarked on the creative process of designing their Ibiza home together. “Our lives in Amsterdam are very different,” explains Regina. “We had whole life stories before we met each other – we each had different children from different backgrounds and they all have their own lives, so we really respect that, and keep our own spaces. But here in Ibiza, this is where Paul and I have our own space. It’s where we really unite.”
Interestingly, the creative process began after the couple undertook an intensive yoga teacher training course together. “We brought that shared energy into the house,” says Regina, who is also a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic therapist in Holland. “It was a very intense year but I think if we hadn’t done it, it would have been impossible to stay together! I get up and go to bed with yoga, so it was important for me to be with someone who wasn’t going to get annoyed and want to throw my mat out the window.” This shared holistic experience influenced the design process of Can Cordeta in many ways. “By doing the training together, it allowed us to connect in a different way – going beyond the connection of people, or lovers,” Regina explains. “We then wanted to find that same connection, that union, but with nature and with the elements, in our home. There is an Ayurvedic theory that there are five elements – earth, water, air, fire and ether – and we have brought each of these together into the house. That’s why I believe there is such harmony here.”
The couple enlisted ibiza-based Madrilenian architect Jairo Hernández to design the villa after falling in love with his sincerity, his passion and his total understanding for their desire to create something with a natural feeling while retaining a contemporary ambience. Inspired by the cutting edge, cubic work of the late Catalonian architect Josef Antonio Coderch, the brief was to recreate the box-like shapes of his works, bringing nature in and around – from trees growing within atriums in the house, to enormous floor to ceiling windows that created a seamless indoor and outdoor living space. “He saved my life,” says Paul of his connection with Hernández. “There were times when I just wanted to give up. Without him, it would have been impossible.” Developing a property long distance is not without its challenges, and it was the architect’s tenacity, vision and understanding of the local construction market that helped them reach the finish line in 2016. “Jairo was the most committed person I have ever met,” says Regina. “But another amazing thing I saw during the project was the way Paul would hold onto the design. He’d stick to his plans, no matter what.”
The first case where this was proven was an initial hiccup dictated by the size of the 15,000 square metre pizza slice shaped plot of land. With its pointy tip landing in the middle of a protected rural zone, it seemed Paul would need to acquire more land either side of the property in order to legally accommodate the house and pool size he was looking to design and build. And so, rather than redesign his dreams, he instead extended the square meterage to 21,000 in total. Further hurdles included storms and wild fires to receiving pallets upon pallets of the wrong tiling and builders covering up (and then uncovering) their chosen bespoke paint swatches. Paul even suffered broken ribs at one point! Their patience and passion for getting it j-u-s-t right meant they didn’t feel a sense of urgency to settle for second best, or rush to finish the house and get it onto the rental market. If anything, they preferred to let it breathe, to see what would really make the house come alive. Three years later, Can Cordeta is a masterpiece of modern design – impeccably dressed, with a laidback yet luxurious aesthetic that is at once warm and welcoming, while still invoking a feeling of true luxury. Earthy textures and colours are everywhere within Can Cordeta, from the hand picked wooden railway materials that have become thick, statement doors, the bespoke wooden kitchen panelling created from Brazilian trees and the rustic CORTEN steel wall surrounding the fireplace to raw, natural fabrics used on the outdoor sofas and soft furnishings throughout. Creating a feeling of warmth was important to the couple – whether it was just the two of them staying in the five-bedroom home or it was at capacity, they wanted cosiness despite its grandeur. “The key aspect is warmth,” says Regina. “We always wanted a feeling of space, but also a feeling of being at home.”
Each and every piece of furniture, art and decoration was personally selected by Paul and Regina, in addition to all of the building materials, paints, concrete colourings, plants, trees, lighting, bathroom fittings, rugs – you name it, they touched it, in the quest to create their dream home. A standout feature is a striking series of art recreating the tradition of Spanish bullfighting, presented in multiple rooms throughout the house – surprisingly uncovered in Amsterdam, when Paul was seeking art to line the walls – with its warmth and textural finishes perfectly suiting the environment with a nod to the property’s Spanish heritage. Even the careful placement of SONOS speakers throughout the gardens and pool area has been meticulously planned – those sounds floating on the airwaves are no accident. Absolutely everything at Can Cordeta is in place with a purpose. A tranquil terrace to the side of the house is the perfect place to watch the sun rise – and is where Regina starts her days with her yoga practice surrounding by the calming scent of hundreds of lavender plants and fresh orange blossom and beside three ancient olive trees. It is here she is constantly surprised by what she calls ‘the sound of silence’. “My favourite thing here is that I can feel like I am outside, within nature, while I am inside,” she says. “In Amsterdam I am always restless to get outside, but here in Ibiza I am already satisfied when I wake up to this union of nature while being at home.” Watch this space for the launch of the upcoming edition of WHITE Ibiza Magazine – on sale in May 2017 – to read the full story (and view more pictures) about Paul and Regina’s hands-on approach to designing, building and decorating Can Cordeta.
Photography by Ana Lui