Since their debut in 2010, the founders of Spanish creative consultancy Masquespacio, Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse, wanted to “do something different, something that would make us proud and reflect our aim to seek innovation through every project,” they say. Ten years later, this approach is still at the heart of the duo’s work.
With their team in Valencia, interior designer Hernández Palacios and marketing expert Penasse bring fresh branding projects, spaces, furniture, and objects to life. Their joyful style visually translates into a universe full of colors, forms, and emotions.
Among their recent projects are Cabinette, a Valencia-based co-working space for creative minds, and the newly launched brand Mas Creations that gives the duo an opportunity to experiment even more. “Since many years we felt the need to evolve towards a more artistic approach, moving away from the more commercial projects,” Penasse confesses.
Interior Design: How did the idea of creating “Mas Creations” start and what was the biggest challenge you faced to create your brand?
Christophe Penasse: Over the past few years, our passion for product design has grown. While we were designing furniture and lighting items for several brands, we were dreaming at the same time of having our own brand. However we didn’t feel ready for it and we needed time to make the idea progress. A few years ago we finally [figured] out that it had to be an independent approach, without any profound research—just things we create from our heart and that look beautiful to us. So we decided to launch the brand as a test, with a high stool we had designed for an interior project. The reaction was positive, but we weren’t 100 percent okay yet with the direction we took with this first launch, so we started to design new collections immediately. It took us a while to find the right production companies to execute our design; we had to do several prototypes until we finally achieved the result we wanted to with the Too Much rocking chair and the Ball Pot flowerpot, after two years of work.
ID: Can you describe the first pieces of Mas Creations and what make them unique?
Ana Milena Hernández Palacios: The Too Much rocking chair is without a doubt a furniture piece that tries to find the right balance between art and design. It has a lot of contrasts, mixing marble with stainless steel and velvet, and it is also characterized by the graphical forms and colors our designs are known for. You can clearly find an influence of the Memphis movement through the design. It is clearly not a mass product. It’s that one piece that stands out in a corner and catches the attention of the viewer.
The Ball Pot combines marble and wood. Its big size and shape make it possible to just set it up with flowers or without as an object that you can put on your table.
ID: What is the overall aesthetic of the brand and how many pieces a year do you plan to release?
CP: It’s like our universe of contrasts made of forms, materials, and textures… and of course a huge amount of colors.
We are planning to launch around 20 designs during the first six months, from smaller items to some that will represent a more artistic approach. The collection is like a reflection of who Ana and I are as persons. One day we are dining in a good sushi restaurant and the other day we just want to grab a hamburger so it’s a mix between simple and commercial to something more selective and exclusive. Some designs will just be fun and others will be more thoughtful but one thing is sure, they will all showcase our personal and independent vision turned into reality.
ID: How do you envision the future of the brand in two-to-five years?
CP: Let’s say that for us it is an experiment that gives us the freedom to develop whatever passes through our mind and is feasible to be produced. We are not focusing on a very specific direction because we want to develop Mas Creations organically (although it is clear that all the items will be designed by Ana during the next years). If we really start to dream, it would be amazing to bring our universe in the future to other fields not related to a design brand.
ID: Could you tell us the story behind Cabinette? What convinced you to work on this project and what was your overall design goal?
AMHP: The secret behind Cabinette is that it’s a new concept developed by the founders of Houtique. We had already worked with Andres from Houtique on several projects and we know he always wants to bring something totally new so we were delighted to create this space.
Cabinette is designed as a co-working space for creative minds that want to run away from the usual and conventional in order to come together and develop groundbreaking ideas. Based on the idea of ‘stereotypes are not allowed’, we strove to create a design that inspires co-workers and challenges them. The working areas are presented like “Cabinets” where every person can focus on his own authentic space, world of fantasy, and creations.
ID: How has the Spanish design scene evolved for the past 10 years and how do you envision the future of design in the country?
CP: When we started Masquespacio 10 years ago, it surprised us that being a country full of colors, happiness, and sunshine almost all year round, the design approach was much more focused on creating sober, mature and minimal designs that didn’t really stand out. From the beginning, Ana and I tried to break with this timeless, minimalistic approach through spaces and products that create an experience full of emotions. Some other Spanish studios did the same and now you can find a mix of both design languages around the country and also abroad.
ID: How do you complement each other?
AMHP: I focus basically on designing projects, while Chris is in charge of almost everything else (client management, communications, etc.). At the same time, all come together through our shared vision. Then our team brings the designs we create to reality.
ID: What is your first memory of design?
AMHP: Since a young age, my mother, who is a floral designer, took me to events dedicated to decoration. From that point on, it all started.
ID: Can you name some people in the industry who inspire you and tell us why?
ID: What are your upcoming projects?
CP: We have been working on a lot of projects last year. We can’t wait for the opening of La Sastrería, a new haute cuisine restaurant in Valencia (Spain), a new Piada restaurant in Lyon (France) and two co-working spaces in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as several restaurants outside of Europe.