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Sculpted Simplicity: Meditative, Minimalistic, Mediterranean

Vieques is an extraordinary place. Off the beaten tourist path, with no high-rise hotels, no golf courses, not even a traffic light, it is a place where one feels blessedly close to the island landscape and its raw beauty. While definitely not for everyone, it is this uber natural state that seems to unnerve some and enchant others. One person to fall under the spell is Ignacio Pla Lopez De Murillas. He enjoys the super-saturated colors of the hills and waters and feels a certain balance that is inspiring for him and his work. “Learning to guide our attention to nature’s details, its choices of form and structure are in balance, which results in essential beauty,” says De Murillas.

A native of Barcelona, Spain, Iggy (as he is called by his beloved wife, Jenn Ok – another great source of inspiration) has a Master’s Degree in sculpture from the New York Studio School. He describes himself as a designer of interiors and objects but his interests are many, including woodcarving, photography, graphic design, metal and working with found objects.

An intrepid traveler, Ignacio had been to many parts of the world – Asia, Morocco, Europe – but when he came to Vieques in 2006, he knew he had found a place where he belonged. He bought a 1200 square foot fixer-upper in a working-class barrio. Approaching the property with a minimalist eye, his needs were simple. “It had enough yard to plant a garden, to make a little paradise (he enjoys growing orchids). It also had a clear view toward Culebra, but the fact that it had a garage that I could turn into a studio was a sign that this place was meant for me.” Now, after months of work, De Murillas vision has been realized in a sculpted cement interior space, including cement seating and dining areas. He describes this imaginative, low-cost design as “Minimalist Mediterranean”. The white walls are decorated with artwork found here on the island, along with some treasures from thrift stores. Pieces of coral and driftwood bring warmth to the space. A large handmade hammock in the middle of the room beckons one to pause and reflect on island life.

Now living in his completed home-studio De Murillas has settled into his work. Around the indoor-outdoor studio you’ll find his compositions in progress; a metal chair he is designing for a company in Europe; an organic sculpture made of discarded rebar and a large piece of coral.  It is a comfortable home rich with the personal touches of its sculptor. De Murillas is enthusiastically enamored of his transformed home and work space. “Here, I can think about how I’m feeling. This studio is my refuge: it is like a church in a way. Here in Vieques, finally I can breathe.”

Learning to guide our attention to nature’s details, its choices of form and structure are in balance, which results in essential beauty

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