Cristina Mengual is a Barcelona passionate about the Mediterranean, who opens a window to her coasts, islands, landscapes and history through her instagram account @seeladanse.
We have been very inspired by her visual journey and that is why we wanted to get a little closer to her through the following interview
What motivated you to share your Mediterranean travel diary through social networks? Why do you consider this place so special? What about the Mediterranean do you appreciate or think stands out compared to other places you know?
I spent – and I spend – the day saving images of the coasts of the Mediterranean, photos of the sea and the passing of summer, as well as the works of art that I like. I started @seeladanse to order all this material and arrange it in a visual way that would inspire both me and anyone who would like to join. Seeladanse means “C’est la danse de la vie”, inspired by one of Matisse’s works. I see life as an endless dance, hence the name.
I don’t know how to explain where my interest came from, it’s more a feeling of belonging. I am from Barcelona, but I have spent long periods in the Balearic Islands and most summers on the Costa Brava. In my imagination, summers are synonymous with home. This is the feeling I have when I think of the Mediterranean.
The warmth of the Mediterranean area stands out, which can be seen in the culture, in the people, in life abroad, the architecture – made of natural materials and warm colors – and the history hidden in its corners. I am fascinated that cultures from different countries share the same geography and character.
What do you find most fascinating about the Mediterranean, for example in natural, architectural and cultural terms?
I think what makes the Mediterranean special is being able to appreciate its essence through the environment, architecture and culture. It is a vibrant, captivating mix.
Personally, I am fascinated by getting lost in the pine forest, admiring the contrast between the green of the vegetation and the blue of the sea or the sky, accompanied by the characteristic smell of pine trees. I can’t help but smile when I discover hidden corners between the cliffs, coves of white sand and crystal clear water.
Mediterranean architecture too: it has unique peculiarities: it is not only the white-fronted houses, but again the dance of contrasts between natural and noble materials. The wood, the stone and the vegetation are aligned in a visual game that I have not seen, at the moment, elsewhere.
Do you think that the Mediterranean can be considered a concept, a style?
If so, what do you think is most representative of that style?
There is a lot of cultural appropriation around the Mediterranean. Very clearly it has gone from being just a culture or an environment, to a concept with its own life. And a style, which can be applied to different areas ranging from gastronomy to interior design and even fashion.
As a style applied to architecture, I would highlight its lightness which, in conjunction with elements such as wood, create a space that invites calm and enjoyment.
For example, how would you describe the look & feel of the Mediterranean? What color palette and what type of textures, materials and spaces can best convey its essence?
Color palette. I have 2 Mediterraneans in mind: one with history, contrasts, strong colors and character. And another calmer, sunny and with pastel colors. The following palette would be a good summary between the two chromatic shades that I mention.
Textures: I would highlight the textures that are reminiscent of the sea, the sand, the cliffs, the pine trees. Textures that are not flat but have movement, that tell a story.
Materials: 2 summers ago I visited an old quarry in Menorca and, apart from being enchanted by the magic of the place, I thought that there was a lot of essence of the Mediterranean in the area. I also had the same feeling when I visited Atlantis, in Ibiza, another unique place from which tons of stones were extracted to build the old town wall. In general, materials such as limestone, pine and olive wood, the earth and ceramics, wicker, iron, glass and cotton come to mind.
Spaces: Open spaces, olive fields, dirt paths between the pine trees, arid soil with the sea roaring in the background. Country houses and houses with an Ibiza style. Cathedrals, churches, labyrinth streets and colorful buildings.
We believe that the Mediterranean is also a way of life, enjoying the outdoors, nature, the sun, the light! What elements, in your experience, could not be missing in the decoration of a terrace, a garden or a swimming pool with a Mediterranean style?
In the Mediterranean culture, the common and outdoor areas play a key role. In my ideal house (which I hope to have one day) the garden is a meeting place. I imagine a house
of white stone, a light-bottom pool and lots of greenery. You can not miss details such as ceramics and tiles, hammocks and decoration elements such as wicker. A porch with a large wooden table where you can enjoy evenings with friends and family. White work benches and wooden beams.
We know that you are a very sensitive person regarding sustainability, which we admire and appreciate! Why do you think it is important for both companies and individuals to be interested and work for the care of our planet?
Because now we have the option to choose, but if we do nothing soon it will be too late and we will have to apply drastic measures to mitigate the effects of the human footprint. We love enjoying the summer and the landscapes it offers, the least we can do is protect the environment as we have found it. Look for a symbiosis between our life and that of the environment. The Earth has given us incredible landscapes, it is our responsibility to maintain them. If not for us, for those who will come after us.
From our construction sector, we are also betting on sustainability. What construction materials do you associate with sustainability? Do you know something about the sustainability of natural stone?
I understand that materials such as wood and stone can become sustainable, if the extraction process is. I do not have the pleasure of knowing the details of sustainability applied to natural stone, but I would be delighted to delve into the subject 🙂
From your trips around the Mediterranean and seeing so much cultural and architectural heritage, do you think the statement that stone is like wine, that it improves with time, seems correct?
It is a good comparison! Old stone houses hide stories that other materials cannot tell. And they are living materials, which coexist with plants and even animals. When I am in an old building, I always try to touch a part of the wall that I think has not been touched by anyone for a long time, to be in contact with past times. Lucky that the stones can’t be drunk, otherwise there would be none left 😉
What place in the Mediterranean is pending on your list of upcoming visits? Of the places you have already visited, which are your 3 most recommended places?
I have a fairly large list. This summer I did a car route through Croatia for two weeks, leaving Barcelona, and I was really looking forward to staying in Italy.
My favorite destination in the Mediterranean is the Balearic Islands. Each of its 4 islands has a different personality that catches you depending on the moment you are in, but I suppose I would opt for the magic of Ibiza, not for its party scene but for the special energy it emanates.