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White Ibiza Magazine Issue 5

White Ibiza Magazine Issue 5

A TRAVELLER’S HEART

MARGARET VON KORFF’S UNIQUE EYE FOR DETAIL AND RISK-TAKING NATURE HAS TURNED CAS GASI INTO ONE OF THE ISLAND’S MOST BELOVED BOUTIQUE HOTELS

Words: Danni Landa Photography: Ana Lui

Interior designers are very clever. They re on point, on trend, and on top of their game. Undoubtedly, they make beautiful spaces, but an interior designer will often struggle to bring meaning to a room.
That a room should have meaning is perhaps too much of an esoteric viewpoint for some, but even a design sceptic has walked into a meaningful space and felt in their bones that it contained something special. It cannot be contrived or replicated. It’s not something that can be bought – it has to be lived.
It’s rare to find this unique quality – particularly in in a hotel setting – but when the entrance gate slides open at luxurious Ibiza Agroturismo Cas Gasi by Margaret von Korff, it can be felt instantly.
Anyone who chooses to go into the hotel business must possess a traveller’s heart. Not the heart of one who jets in and out of a destination, but the kind who is always travelling, even when standing still. They must be both storyteller and soothsayer, as well as a pragmatic solver of issues, incidents and missteps. The successful hotelier is one whose mind is not only open to the world but consistently curious about it, with one eve on history and the other on the future. Margaret is all of these things and the renowned hotel she has created within her former family home embodies all of those things and much more.
From the 18 plush rooms and suites and a sparkling countryside swimming pool to its organic vegetable garden, as Gasi’s status as a hotel is dusted with that warm, fresh-baked bread feeling of family.
When Margaret and her husband Luis Trigueros moved to Ibiza in 1986, they had no idea they would end up operating one of the island’s most exclusive hotels. They first met when Margaret joined a-round-the-world sailing race project in
1985. Luis was the shipowner and part of the crew and she took care of the logistics, making sure the sleek 20-metre sloop had everything it needed and that the crew were all fed, watered and housed along the way.
Luis was born in Ibiza and Margaret in Barcelona, so moving to Ibiza was an easy choice, especially given their mutual love of the sea. Having spent many of the early years of her adult life travelling, for both work and pleasure, Margaret found a ground-based position on the island and focused on family. ‘The couple raised their children at Cas Gasi and from the get-go created a sustainable lifestyle within the beautiful 19th century farmhouse.

The idea that we are each responsible for leaving the earth in a better state was part of Margaret’s upbringing, long before it became a fashion statement. Now, she had the opportunity to start with organic agriculture and evolved her ideas from there.
Eventually, the house and surrounding estate had the requirements to become an Agroturismo and in 1998, in her own unique manner, Margaret thought: ‘Why not?’ a refrain that has guided her throughout her life.
Her garden thrives in the Mediterranean climate, harvesting year-round produce, and over the years that followed, the food prepared in the Cas Gasi kitchen has reached a legendary status amongst guests. Thanks to a recent refurbishment, a new restaurant is also accessible to external guests (via reservation only). And while the land around the hotel looks as if it’s part of a forested fairy tale, it’s the interior that settles the soul into a heartfelt embrace.
Margaret credits her cosmopolitan upbringing for her insatiable curiosity and fascination with design. Her parents came of age in an era when Europe was reeling from war and displacement. People were scattered across the continent, scrambling to create a home wherever they landed. Amongst the chaos there was a thrilling sense of adventure, tinged by sadness but also by bravery. Her grandfather was such an example. Baron Alexander von Korff, originally German from the Baltic area, fled Russia during the revolution and settled in Vienna. When the Russians entered Vienna at the end of World War II, he had to give up everything again and escaped occupied Austria in the middle of the night on skis with Margaret’s mother, making their way across the snowy alps to the safety of Switzerland. Meanwhile, Margaret’s father had left Germany to join the Resistance in Holland and England. They connected through Margaret’s French grandmother, who showed the young man a photograph of her daughter, and their fate was sealed. After a journey with enough twists and turns to fill a multi-volume novel, the couple made their way to Barcelona where Margaret was born and spent the first 20 years of her life.
‘The stories of Margaret’s family, and even the stories of Europe, are scattered throughout the main house via adored objects. “In my parents’ home in Barcelona, we had furniture from all these different places, she explains.

“It was part of my daily life and now it is here at Cas Gasi.” Pieces such as a grandfather clock, a 16th century hand carved wooden chest and a leather armchair with corduroy upholstery all possess a patina steeped in family lore.
‘These are not antiques bought on a whim – they are part of the family. “When we first became a hotel, we didn’t change much in the house. The foundation was already laid,” says Margaret. “But there were a lot of finer details to be finished.” And therein lies the design essence of Cas Gasi. It’s all in the details.
Of course, every hotelier touts assurances that they are all about the details but in truth, a details person is a very rare breed. “I am constantly engaged with design in some way,” says Margaret. “I travel a lot and always stay in singular hotels. I scan everything. I have a real passion for details and looking at the quality of things – asking why it’s there, what it’s for and finding out more about it.” When a guest walks into a suite at Cas Gasi, they don’t necessarily see all the details, but they will feel them. It’s these details that make the difference between a room that does its job and one that evokes feeling. “I don’t go looking for the newest trend or object. I look for the right place for the right piece. I don’t have a strategy for the design of the hotel.
Perhaps I am more of an opportunist, in a good sense,” she says. “I am steered by my interests.” Which are many
– in addition to being a voracious reader and art lover, Margaret’s addiction to travel is the passion that informs most of her design knowledge.
‘Trips away these days are not only focused on seeing the sights, but staying in other boutique hotels. “I’m quite critical when I go to other hotels,” she says. “When I really like a place, I try to filter out all the pluses and minuses and in the end, it is always the people that make a difference. You don’t want perfection without an emotional counterpart. We need that humanity.” This is why stepping over the threshold of Cas Gasi feels like being invited to a well-travelled friend’s home. In addition to the countless family heirlooms are many other items Margaret has picked up on her travels, or during one of her many forays into auction houses, another of her favourite pastimes.

The main door at Cas Gasi opens to a wide living room crowned with bulging sofas; the playlist is as far removed from elevator music as you can get. Nothing is standardised – everything is unique. There’s an Italian coffee table with marble inlays stacked with art books on every subject under the sun. Above a huge fireplace sit two round lamps by designer Carlo Rampazzi that Margaret picked up at an outlet store in Santa Gertrudis in the early 1990s. Around 14 years later, the designer himself booked into the hotel and on entering the living room shouted with glee: “These are my lamps!”
The walls are hung with original works by local artists, many of whom are friends. Among them are various works by the late Eduard Micus, a German artist who had a studio near Jesús, in addition to pieces by Erwin Bechtold, part of the Ibiza 59 group. German-born, island-based Linde Bialas is featured with two luscious and redolent paintings, perfect for the lazy summer ambience of Ibiza. Ibicenco artist Antoni Pomar is represented with a bright and dynamic depiction of the Santa Eulalia estuary, as is the irreverent Vicente Calbet. The son of painter James Taylor has entrusted Margaret to care for several pieces by his father, which proudly hang on different walls. Late sculptor Franco Monti is also present in the gardens with one of his unique creations.
There is an imperceptible hum of movement in the design of Cas Gasi. Margaret’s eye is constantly calculating and revaluating space and balance, form and function. “Some people spend a lot of energy making decisions, but I have a lot of security in my choices when I feel they are spontaneous. Intuition is not random, it’s based on what you have learned from life. If I approach these things in a more rational way, I lose the certainty. It’s all about believing in yourself.” Taking risks is imprinted in her DNA, honed from a familial disposition to fight for one’s autonomy. Be it her trailblazing grandmother hosting clandestine political meetings, her undocumented grandfather emigrating to South Africa after the war, her mother skiing to safety in the middle of the night or her father’s work in the Resistance, each story of risk and faith has led Margaret to where she is today.
While Margaret tweaks elements here and there in the moment, for larger projects such as refreshing a suite or renovating the restaurant, she prepares by using mood boards. Whenever she flips through a magazine, she cuts out whatever takes her eye, even if she can’t see an immediate connection with the hotel. “I don’t consider myself an artist or a designer because I do things without a strategy,” she admits. “I have so much fun with it and dedicate so much of my time seeking out art and design, reading about it and talking about it. It’s very defining for me. Design is part of art and art is the moving force in our lives. It’s part of evolution and transition.” There’s nothing more satisfying for Margaret than an object that is both beautiful and useful.
It’s obvious that every corner of Cas Gasi has had much thought and passion put into it. From the Design Guild fabrics upholstering armchairs and covering windows to each lamp and every book, everything has a story and has been consciously positioned. “I grew up thinking there are no insignificant details and that the more you go into the details, the more you realise how much there is to learn,” Margaret says. “In a way, it makes me more independent. I like to do many things myself, because I know what I want. I am not satisfied to just have an object. I must know where it came from, who made it and how.” The culmination of Margaret’s fine eye and life’s work has created a space so charming and welcoming that it’s hard not to feel perfectly at home at Cas Gasi. “I want people to feel that nothing is random here – everything has a meaning. This is my home and if I weren’t part of the process, it wouldn’t have the same value.”

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