Franckly Friends: Palmera Estudio is artist Albert Madaula’s dreamy home and atelier in Barcelona

Albert Madaula is known for his expressive and colorful paintings. Design Stories had a chance to visit Madaula’s beautiful home atelier, called Palmera Estudio, in Barcelona. Take a tour with us!

Palmera Estudio, Barcelona
The colorful Palmera Estudio is situated in the area of Poblenou in Barcelona. It’s not only Albert Madaula’s home, but also a multidisciplinary art studio for painting, photography, and film production.

IT’S A SUNNY AUTUMN morning in El Poblenou, a busy neighborhood in the district of San Martí in Barcelona, Spain. Formerly an important industrial center, the area has transformed into a home for emerging businesses and a growing art scene attracting young creatives. One of them is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Albert Madaula.

Madaula runs Palmera Estudio, where he creates colorful abstract paintings. The atelier is also a collective space for creatives working on artistic projects, films, and tv productions, and art expositions. Surprisingly, it’s also Madaula’s beautiful home, decorated with interesting second-hand gems.

Artist Albert Madaula
Albert Madaula (35) started painting in his early twenties following the footsteps of his father, artist Josep Madaula. He’s known for his colorful paintings that have earned him a huge number of followers on social media.

Hello Albert! Tell us the story of Palmera Estudio. How did you discover it?
“I used to live in the neighborhood of Gràcia in Barcelona, where I also had my studio. In 2019 I had to leave the flat and the studio, and at that moment I thought “okay, what’s next?”. I decided to chase my dream of finding and remodeling an apartment and turning it into my home studio. I gave myself a month to find a place in which to settle. At first, I couldn’t find anything I liked: most places had no natural light, or they were either too small or too big.

Then one day I passed by an industrial building in Poblenou that had been turned into apartments. I had heard of it before, and I knew it was high on demand – usually, there weren’t any flats available. But I decided to give it a go. I approached the doorman and heard that one space was becoming vacant in a couple of days. That same afternoon I signed a lease for it.”

Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
Situated on the fifth floor of one of Poblenou’s many industrial buildings, Palmera Estudio is an open space of 280 square meters. Its large windows face to the southeast, providing the atelier with daylight, from sunrise to almost sunset.
Handmade rattan chairs
The dining room table is one of Albert’s most-precious furniture pieces. It holds great sentimental value as it was bought by his late mother. The handmade rattan chairs were found through a carpenter in Australia.

In what condition did you find the place?
“To be honest, it was terrible! It had an awful kitchen right next to the entrance and a single wall that divided the entire apartment in two. It was dirty and badly maintained. Despite the rather negative first impression, as soon as I entered the space, I knew it had huge potential. This was not only because of the industrial windows and the distinctive identity of the building itself, but also the fact that more and more young, creative people were moving to the neighborhood.

I had to move in while the renovation was being carried out. I remember sleeping here without electricity and seeing all my furniture and belongings piled up in a corner gathering dust and dirt. The home looked like a parking lot. I constantly wondered if I had made the right decision.”

“It took about a year and a half before the space looked how I had envisioned it.”

Looking at it now I’d say yes, it was the right move! How long did the renovation take?
“It took about a year and a half before Palmera Estudio looked how I had envisioned it. The most intensive renovation was carried out during the first six months.”

Artist Albert Madaula
Artistry runs in the Madaula family. Several artworks painted by his father, artist Josep Madaula, can be found around the apartment. The painting hanging above the sofa depicts Albert as a child playing in his bedroom.
Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
Albert Madaula’s apartment is filled with vintage and handmade objects of which many have made quite a travel to get to their current home. The white clay vessel with handles was handcrafted in Menorca.
Marble coffee table
The glass coffee table with an eye-catching marble block belonged to Albert’s former neighbors, who gave the table to him as a present when they moved out of the building.

Palmera Estudio has been created with extreme care and attention to detail. Did you have the concept preconceived?
“I did have a pretty clear concept for my studio. I wanted it to be in one of the industrial buildings that proliferated in the 1970s here in Poblenou. In this one, I particularly liked the metal stairs visible on the outside and the beige red color of the building facade. I think it’s something very fresh and characteristic of Barcelona. A type of building that you can find in other European cities, but less commonly in Spain, not even in other industrial cities like Madrid.”

Where did you look for inspiration when you started defining the aesthetics and decoration?
“In architecture, I found inspiration from the buildings of the 60s and 70s periods in Spain, such as La Muralla Roja by Ricardo Bofill and Casa Gomis created by Antonio Bonet in El Prat de Llobregat.

From the very beginning I wanted a personal interior design but at the same time link it to the building’s façade and industrial roots. I tried to avoid creating a bubble inside that was disconnected from the exterior. My plan was to design a warm Mediterranean-infused interior.”

• Read also: La Muralla Roja – a cinematographic dream house in coastal Spain >

Yellow tiles in the kitchen in Barcelona
The color palette as well as the mix of different shapes and materials in Albert’s home is impactful. In the kitchen area, the tilted wood ceiling combined with the mustard-colored ceramic tiles encapsulate the Mediterranean essence.
Yellow kitchen counter
The tiling continues on the kitchen counter. A black faucet and other carefully chosen details bring a nice contrast to the tiles’ warm colors that evoke images of the sunny days of Barcelona.
Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
The brown tile wall next to the kitchen separates the bedroom from the rest of the space. It’s made of ceramic lattice manufactured by artisans in the Catalan city of Bisbal d’Empordà.
Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
The painting on the left is another one made by Albert’s father. The 1950s style wooden sideboard by Matías Guarro Estudi was bought second-hand through an online vintage marketplace.

You have a lot of eye-catching objects spread across the house. Have you purchased them new, or do you shop second-hand?
“I’m a real vintage furniture aficionado. I love to visit second-hand stores or street markets like the one in Sant Cugat del Vallès and get lost while looking for hidden gems. Currently, you can often find second-hand products that are real gems with lots of character. I’ve always believed that vintage objects are more special, with a story behind them. I recommend combining new furniture pieces from brands you like with beloved second-hand items to create the perfect atmosphere and aesthetic balance.”

“I’ve always believed that vintage objects are more special, with a story behind them.”

Each corner here in Palmera Estudio is so cozy and inviting. Do you have a favorite spot?
“I like to sit down right on the corner of the mustard-colored velvet couch, enjoy the views, and gaze at the sunset through the big windows. I enjoy these calm moments especially on the weekends when the studio is quieter. During the weekdays, however, it’s a crazy party in here!”

Albert Madaula painting
Madaula receives orders from countries like Australia, the UK, and the US. One of his last works was commissioned by Aitana Ocaña Morales, one of the most successful Spanish singers today.
Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
Most items around the home carry a story with them and remind Madaula of dear people and memorable life events. The small artwork on the wall is made by Madaula’s friend, photographer Txema Yeste.
Palmera Estudio in Barcelona
Impressive arches divide the otherwise open space into different areas. The painting at the back is one of Albert’s works, created especially for the home atelier to mimic the round shapes in the space.

Since you live and work here, you obviously spend a lot of time in the same location. Do you find it challenging?
“I was aware that the hard part would be living and working in the same space. Luckily, it’s a large well-defined space, with loads of natural light. When I started Palmera, I wanted to have the home area alongside the outer wall to avoid direct sight to the atelier. The columns also help to hide the workshop when I don't want to think about work. Otherwise, my paintings start to ‘speak’ to me and I don't want to hear them all the time!”

Do you think that the home atelier has had an influence on your artworks and film productions?
“Yes. It has inspired and helped me to grow professionally in the art world. It has also allowed me to have my inner world externalized, projected outwards. I think Palmera helps people understand a little better who I am and what I want to say and convey artistically. It’s a place that supports me both emotionally and commercially. Palmera is my shelter.”

Albert’s wishlist from Franckly

Memphis Group
First Chair
Made by Choice
Beebee jar
&Tradition
Flowerpot VP1 pendant
Marimekko
Urna vase
&Tradition
Palette JH6 table
Vitra
Akari 120A pendant
Iittala
Festivo candleholder
Woud
Tangent table lamp

See also:

More pre-loved design treasures at Franckly >

Text: Lorenzo Molina Montilla Images: Pol Viladoms Production: Design Stories

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