Enfrente Arte in Ronda Hello reader, We are the crew of Enfrente Arte in Ronda, a small hotel and production collective in the South of Spain. The intent of this Upcycle section is to share some of the ideas and projects we came up with in the process of redecorating our hotel in the past few months. It took more craftsmanship to weld tables from car tires, or build a waterfall with marbles. We’ve been playing around recycling and crafting old items into furniture and decoration accessories. Mostly simple ideas anybody can do at home like turning an old basketball into a bird’s nest or empty wine bottles into bedside lamps. We used the type of items that tends to pile up in basements and garages. Stuff you can’t throw away just yet; skateboards you outgrew, furniture, fancy dress accessories… The kind of garbage-to-be you don’t really have a use for anymore. We also bought various pieces of design furniture and decorative elements and placed them throughout the premises in combination with the homemade stuff. Most results are functional, a few only decorative. Some of these projects definitely qualify as kitsch, but we love what we came up with… We hope you do too. It takes just one click to jump right in!!! Enjoy our blog!
A freshwater aquarium in multiple levels throughout our tropical garden connects the restaurant with the leisure room. The water of the 15 meter long pond holds almost 500 fishes of various species. It’s being filtered naturally by the roots of a large Adam’s Rib plant that spans from the bottom of the aquarium to the ceiling of the patio. The highest level, a 2 meters high platform constructed above the heating installation of the building, features a series of small artificial islands we refer to as “Little Dubai”. They are made of concrete and topped with a layer of beach sand. Our guests now can hop from island to island until they reach one of those onto which we attached rotary design seats. This makes for a unique sitting corner. Having a drink on a high level island, while your feet are getting a foot spa treatment by hundreds of small fish sipping on your toes and heels, you’re surrounded by tropical birds and plants, ambient reflections of subtle lighting, and the caustics and acoustics of water are all around you… If you ever get any closer to complete relaxation, there’s probably no coming back.
How better does it get than to surf the web than surfing it using…skateboards? This now gives an additional dimension to your surfing experience online while visiting the hotel. But surfing influences you will find in other places, such as for example near the outside bar area or on the outdoor view deck. We’ve been repurposing more sports equipment into tables. In the end, all a table needs is a flat surface that’s stable enough to hold some cups, an ashtray or a candle. So as long as you find a way to turn any item into something that’s flat and solid, there are a lot of table concepts one can come up with our “Music & Sports”-themed entertainment room and the adjacent bamboo garden now house a set of console tables made with padel racquets and basketball hoops and a freestanding trampoline table.
We bought an old Seat 600 (Fiat in other countries) and cut it in half. We integrated the back part in the partition wall between the bar and the dining room. The back seat is a comfy couch, framed and enclosed by the wall, coach-work and car windows and open in the front facing the bar. So, although the guest is physically seated in the dining room he’s actually mentally present in the bar. That’s quite a unique sensation. The trunk serves as a kitchen cabinet being an alternative storage for plates, cups, and cutlery. Tail lamps, brake lights and blinkers still function and are controlled by custom made power supply units. After cutting an old Seat 600 in half and using the back as a wall seat, we still had about half a car left. We replaced the rustic table in the reception of our hotel with the front of the car, facing the entrance door. The headlights put a warm welcoming spotlight on our guests the moment they step in. The lobby is the first room one gets to see and people’s reaction to a car in the hall is mostly one of surprise and sympathy. Now, that’s a great first impression for a guesthouse to make. It loosens people up, gets them engaged right away. Breaking the ice and making guests feel welcome is what reception is all about. Our Seat 600 does that very well… All lights and blinkers still function and are controlled by custom made power supply units, and the dashboard serves as a desktop for doing the check-in administration. After using the front and the back of our old SEAT 600 as a reception desk and a wall seat, a couple of items were left unused; the front seats and the spare wheel. We welded the front seats onto iron rotary plates. The construction is very solid but still allows for bending slightly, so we ended up with a pair of comfy rocking-chairs. Another rotary plate as a support turned the spare wheel into a coffee table. The flat see-through surface table top is attached to the rubber of the tires with suction cups. We used some more wheels and tires as wall tables at bar stool height.
For centuries our hotel has been a hostel for pilgrims and many traces of this former function are still left in the construction of the building and small ornaments all over the premises. Next to the entrance door is an open space in the wall that used to be the typical shrine in which a relic would be placed, for passers-by to worship and to pray. As the little chapel had lost its purpose over the years, we decided to revalue the altar, but upgrade the saints. We dedicated the shrine to international artists from the past century with a big influence on Ronda or Spain, like Picasso, Orson Welles or Ernest Hemingway. We used the aluminium construction of a kitchen sifter for flour or icing sugar, printed images of the artists’ faces on 2 transparent plastic sheets, attached the sheets to either end of the sieve, so it looks like a tambourine with 2 see-through drumheads, and hung the two-sided portraits on the ceiling. When the wind gently rotates the object, the shifting position and the distance between the prints produce a magical optical depth effect, as if the faces come to life in 3D. Now the entrance once again has become a place of fellowship and worship, worthy a hotel named Enfrente Arte.
We talked about our Vegetaballs before; Edibles grown in (volley)balls. Our Recyclaballs are the same thing, but the plants they contain are not for eating. We use Recyclaballs as vessels for living flowers and plants all over our gardens and patios. It doesn’t take more than an old torn ball, potting soil, some seeds and a little water from time to time. You can come up with some crazy ideas for attaching and positioning the balls as you can see on this image: Check out Wesley’s new nest. A basketball turned into a bird basket. We added a feeder and a water reservoir and voilà: a home sweet home for Wesley, our resident parakeet.
We got our inspiration to make this lamp during the World Cup in South Africa. The huge attention this octopus received for predicting all results and Spain as the winner is widely known. We manufactured this octopus lamp with very simple materials. First of all a pvc white garden lamp where we added some iron wire legs. The now well known led strips were fitted into the pvc garden lamp (the octopus body) and then leaded onto the iron wire legs. It was pure coincidence that to cover the octopus legs we came up with the standard bubble plastic used to protect packages as this material was inside the box of the led strips…we can change the lamp in all sort of different colours but most of the time it has its natural red colour as this is a homage to “La Roja” the nickname (the Reds) of the Spanish national theme that obtained its first world cup ever !
Those who have experience with outdoor tables, especially near water,know that maintenance is a big issue as these tables are constantly attacked by dust, moisture etc. In a clothing shop that was closing down we bought several mannequins of different sizes and materials. Some of them were hollow inside and we got the idea to use them as a mould and filled the inside of the bodies with concrete. On top we used a motorcycle tyre as mould which serves as the table plate. Some of these tables were installed inside the water and in between the Dubai islands where fish now bread underneath and were natural weeds and water plants find perfectly their way.
While we were working on the “In a bar under the sea” restaurant we ordered some nice looking round metal aquariums from the UK. We soon tested them with live fish but from the first moment we did not feel happy because of the reduced space for the fish and the difficulties to keep the water clean through the limited filter system. In the middle of the digital photo album area it was rather unavoidable we had to digitalise our fish and there for we taped a digital photo album on the back of the aquarium that afterwards was filled with water and now we bubble our digital fish through the aquarium.We add some chlorine to keep the water clean and transparent and fitted these aquariums on giant wall paper with jelly fish and anemones.
Since more then 10 years we use Granini juices in our hotel. A couple of years ago the brand changed their famous bubble crystal bottles into plastic ones. Our inside tropical garden is heated in winter by an installation underneath our little Dubai islands. The exhaust pipe of the heating is going up to the top of our transparent roof and was always an ugly iron item into our little rainforest. There we looked for a solution to cover this 7 meter pipe and we got the idea of making a waterfall. As the water had to fall straight down in order to not wet the people on the islands we started experimenting with cutting the plastic granini bottles into each other and turning them into transparent pipes.
What to do with a broken washing machine? Would you drop off your dryer? Don’t trow them away! Maybe you’re not aware of what you have got in your hands: a future table-lamp that will impress your friends and enthrall anyone visiting your place. We have changed the dirty laundry into warm light and connected the washer and the dryer with a metal tube. We’ve finished the job with a crystal on top of it. We now use these tables for all desert pastry at our breakfast. We also manufactured a giant floor lamp adding 3 wash drums together lighting up delightfully a rather los corner… so from two in one we ended up with three in one
Innovate or die, that’s a very popular saying among hotel people. To us, for example, it happened with the old bathroom taps, who had lost their function but for us they kept on having a certain charm. So we started thinking about how re-using them. After a waterfall of ideas we decided to use them as a lamp, replacing the limpid jets of chrystalised water for light bursts. In the Picasso Room we hoist fusion of taps and tubes with light flod
“Now where I want to be is …” are words of the lyrics of the dEUS-song “Dissapointed in the sun”, a band who is very related to the history of EnFrente Arte. Often songs are inspiration and this song has been fundamental for the decoration of the hotel’s dinning room, a chill zone where you can have breakfast while observing a little locust or an exotic fish staring at you from the acquarium window. The floor is completly blue and the walls are covered by gigantic stickers of medusas and anemones. The lightballs are fishbowls filled with water and bubbles in which we incorporated a electronic photo frame with pictures of the fishes of our acquarium. “Where I want to be is … Under the sea, drinking in a bar under the sea…”, that’s what the song says,by dEUS.
The beginning of EnFrente Arte was very musical. We had the guys from Wawadadakwa here, Think of One recorded an album here. Also the belgian band dEUS and even the universal pop diva Madonna. The reminiscences of that era are still permeating the walls of the hotel by having introduced light bulbs in the old instruments some of those muscicians left us as a souvenir. They are now dangling at our walls and when the night falls they will create warmth in the interior of the building. A saxophone, a tuba and a trombone that’s our small tribute to all the muscicians that once have visited us.
Another way to recycle bottles of wine is to cut off the inferior base with a angle grinder, introducing an electric cable with a lamp and hanging it up upon the ceiling. We pitched it into the wooden balks of the hotel’s gazebo, intenting to play with two shades: green and ocher, the same colours of the sun set in the Ronda mountains.
A typical eighties Samsonite is in charge to welcome our guests at the Hotel EnFrente Arte. With its years of travel experience it is now in charge to supply a comfortable check in and check out. But, before that, we “disguised” it by filling it up with foam ,covered it with black leather and added typical andalusian forged iron to stabelize it.
The wall lightning of the dinning room entrance has been made of kitchen tools such as graters and colanders. A bowl-formed colander lightens up as the famous disco balls, giving the impression you are way back in the seventies shaking your boots off with music of the Jackson 5. To cover up the electric cable we used a metal kitchen grater.
Definition: “A hat is a head covering. Worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, for safety, as a fashion accessory, as an indicator of social status.” In our hotel a hat is also the go to item if we need a light fixture. We see an undecorated light bulb somewhere? We think: “Helmet, cap, Kepi, Panama,…” and we go hathunting… We´ll post about our Monteras (torero hat lamps) as well, and here are more examples.
Our neighbour had this old 1955 Vespa stocked on his outside waste spot. We asked him one day if we could have it to turn it into a vintage flower pot and he agreed. The vibe from Audry’s Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s movie ” Roman holiday ” is now very present on our outdoor terrace. The Vespa is completely covered by rests of glass tiles that were left over from our bath rooms making this an all weather resistent garden feature full of nostalgic glamour.
The funkiest pool Fountain in Ronda We looked for quite a while in all sorts of outdoor decoration shops for a innovative, pop culture pool fountain to give our swimming pool a certain twist. The only thing we could find were some marble, zen inspired fountains at extremely expensive rates. Years ago we bought some pvc hand stools that we used to decorate in some of our rooms. These chairs are very nice looking but honestly not comfortable at all to sit on. We decided to perforate each finger top and split up 5 little garden tubes in the back of the hand leading these tubes into each finger top. We then connected this on the filter installation of the pool and now one can get a gentle shower underneath what we call “The hand of God” , referring to Diego Maradonna’s famous goal at the World up in Mexico.
Marble Madness Apart from aquariums on various levels, plants, birds, small islands, hidden treasures and sitting corners, our tropical garden now features a 6 meters high marble waterfall with light effects. We used a mesh of chain-link wire, the small square kind used to fence poultry livestock or small mammals, to jam a huge amount of white stones and transparent glass marbles in a casing of PVC draining pipes, and then placed the construction against the high wall of the patio. Between the marbles and the wall, in the backsides of the pvc tubes, we positioned perforated optical fibre wires with iterating colours in a symmetrical pattern to light up the marbles. The magic happens when we pump up water and have it swiftly plash down the marbles. The combination of the coloured lights, the fresnel reflection and refraction of the marbles and the water ripples create a beautiful organic ambient atmosphere.
The Basketball Room We placed loudspeakers on the insides of a series of basketballs and created an amazing basketball room. In the entertainment room we hung them from the ceiling, in 2 rows, walls of sound. As the speakers are facing top down the sound waves are very local, like cones of sound between the speakers and the floor. The lighting of the room is done with bulbs in basket balls, and we iterate between speakers and lights. These objects are to be found in various public spaces of the hotel