Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio

Located in a former dry cleaning business in Sants, Barcelona, the space in which artists Mateo Fumero and Minerva Capdevila live and work is warm but raw, filled with leafy green plants, plenty of texture, and an ever-evolving collection of objects. Their unique take on the modern Scandinavian home aesthetic is one concerned with the perception of time, space, and cosmos. It’s where they raise their young daughter, reflect on life’s transcendental questions, and reshape their earthly experiences into explorations for their artistic practice, Turbina Studio.

The open-plan living area they share with their 3-year-old daughter, Rita, is connected to their workspace — a large, spacious room full of machinery, objects, and material archives — allowing the artists to step seamlessly between home and work, life and art. From hour to hour, day to day, their young family eludes regularity and routine. Instead, their time is ruled by how they feel, what they need in the moment, and how much longer one of their newly created sculptures might need to dry in the studio before they can resume work on it. It’s an unconventional way of life, and their space has evolved to accommodate it.

Except, that is, in the combined kitchen and living area, which is configured around a minimalist dining table and bench. This is the axis on which the whole home turns. Overhead, the skylight provides a direct connection to the sun, moon, and stars, which play such an elemental role in the studio’s practice. But Mateo, Minerva, and Rita also spend much of their time here as a family, cooking nourishing meals for lunch and dinner.

Elsewhere, they display their collectibles — remnants of past projects, industrial processes, organic rocks, or pleasing found objects. They play, reflect, and exist together; they continue to grow the space itself. The outside terrace, currently a space for messy work, is very much a work in progress, and they’re also planning a room for Rita, for the future. If Turbina’s work explores the perception of time and space through sculptural works, then it’s from this base that their ideas originate. Fluidly, organically. At their own pace.

Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio

Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio

What drew you to the neighborhood you live in?

Sants was a small industrial town adjacent to Barcelona before the city grew. Many of the old factory buildings are still here, although they have other uses now — they are no longer industrial. You can feel the history of the neighborhood in many small workshops that served these large factories, and the beautiful old houses that still remain, as well as the lively working class spirit that is still present here.

Are there any spaces that inspired you, when you were creating this one?

We lived for several years in self-managed and artistic co-existence projects. Large spaces in industrial buildings always with an integrated workshop. Unfortunately we do not have that kind of a space now, but we have taken into account the importance of the place itself, and how much it conditions the type of life that is done in it. We are interested in provisional and unspecific spaces, so as not to create rigidity.

How do you approach designing your home?

In some ways, the house project started, and has been growing in parallel with, our artistic project. The fact that the process has been so slow — there are still unfinished parts — has given us time to live in the space, reflect and change when necessary. We have learned from it, and in some ways it has been a testing ground. We did most of the renovation work and furnishings ourselves, as we moved into the space. Of course, it also adapts to the growth of our daughter Rita, as different needs arise at each stage of her life.

Where do you spend most of your time here?

The living room-kitchen is the most versatile space in the house. It is also the brightest, so we use it for various workshop tasks, and for photography. It is the space where we spend the most time: we play, cook, eat, receive visitors and meet.

“Our way of working is not very conventional, we don't have a very clear schedule or routine. We organize ourselves daily as much as possible, and adapt to the rhythms set by our daughter.” —

Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio

Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio
Friends of Friends - Turbina Studio

Are there any smells that make you feel at home?

The smell of wood from the workshop, or the smell of good homemade food.

What about sounds?

That would be the silence, or the rehearsals of Lucía, Mateo's sister who lives upstairs, and is a musician. We are lucky not to feel like we are in a city.

What do you see when you look out of your windows?

We only see the sky, and sometimes a flying cat. Much of the living room ceiling is made of glass on which Tofu, Lucía's cat, sometimes lies.

Your home and workshop are attached. How do you divide your work life and your home life?

Our way of working is not very conventional, we don't have a very clear schedule or routine. We organize ourselves daily as much as possible, and adapt to the rhythms set by our daughter, Rita. We’ll work for a few hours, then take advantage of the drying times to do something with the little one, then go back to work... We’re not very fond of the idea of the weekend; instead, we try to organize ourselves and make the most of the flexibility that working on our own allows. We have gone through stages in which we worked intensely when Rita slept, for example. Now it is easier for us to combine with her: we take turns, we divide ourselves. For the moment, we love this rhythm. We hope to be able to maintain it over time.

“The fact that the process has been so slow — there are still unfinished parts — has given us time to live in the space, reflect and change when necessary.” —

What kinds of materials are you drawn to?

The materials of traditional construction are undoubtedly the ones that interest us the most: stone, terracotta, lime mortar, wood. We like to talk about the language of materials; we understand that each material has its own implicit, ancient symbology, somehow inscribed in our collective unconscious. In this way, materials act as symbols, clues or triggers about the whole set of ideas they contain. In fact, the material itself is the starting point of many of our projects.

What do you collect?

We collect a lot of objects from nature when we travel. We have a special fixation on stones and geology. But we also have all kinds of things! Industrial and mechanical pieces, objects that catch our attention because of their color, texture, material, deterioration...what we call “selected junk” and we accumulate in various boxes that we call “boxes of wonders” that we use for our still lifes.

Do you live with anything you have made?

We dedicate a lot of time to each of the pieces, so we establish a very close bond with them. We take them from one place to another and find a place for them, so that we can see them every day and in different situations.

What does home mean to you?

Wow, that’s a difficult one. We would quote a text by Bachelard, in answer to this: “The house is our corner of the world; it is, as has been said, our first universe. It is really a cosmos. The house, like fire, like water, allows us to evoke gleams of reverie that illuminate the synthesis of immemorial and memory. The house shelters the reverie, protects the dreamer. The house allows us to dream in peace. The house is the first world of being. Before being launched into the world, man is deposited in the cradle of the house. And always in our dreams the house is a great cradle.”

“We like to talk about the language of materials; we understand that each material has its own implicit, ancient symbology, somehow inscribed in our collective unconscious.” —

In collaboration with Friends of Friends

Photography by Joyce Kim

Interview by Maisie Skidmore