Faraway Findings – Madrid
Allisen here! While exploring the Salamanca District in Madrid, Spain over the Christmas holiday, I realized again how inspiring it is to design shop in big cities. International furniture showrooms, local product fabricators and temporary pop-up shops tend to stick together, making browsing incredibly user-friendly and essentially a one-stop shopping experience…quite frankly, a designer’s version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Each company sits distinctly planted within historic shells and modern storefronts alike, uniquely enticing and drawing in pedestrian traffic. With just a couple hours to walk and explore, my heart was racing with excitement (could have been the cortado), and I won’t lie, my armpits were a little sweaty.
Here are a few of my favorite finds along the way, in the order that I discovered them.
1st Stop: Historic Plaza Cluster of Boutiques
From the sidewalk, this hidden gem called to me through it’s amazing historic archways…and plaster-repair construction zone. (I find it impossible to ignore an interior remodel when I’m in Spain) I wandered in to find a series of teeny tiny boutiques, including a fancy hat shop, home-wares + accessories and a holiday nursery/flower shop. Not only were the entry and courtyard great, the signage had me at the round Hollywood bulbs. After buying a small roll of baker’s string in teal/white, I was back on the hunt.
2nd Stop: Pop-up Shop Mueble Chino
Living in the Pacific NW, I’ve developed a soft spot for authentic Asian antiques cleverly placed within modern Craftsman homes…which is what drew me into a very charming showroom of re-purposed antiques. It was a haven of centuries-old wood, painted trunks, charming + complicated hardware, and modern lighting to showcase it all. What kept me exploring were the 2 gentlemen who warmly greeted me and chatted me up about travel through the U.S…we’ll definitely be keeping in touch! My personal faves here were these adorable old water mills made into crushed velvet poufs, and this low-and-long salvaged antique wood coffee table with 3 red drums on one end. I’m a sucker for simplicity with a little bit of whimsy and I love the asymmetry!
3rd Stop: Vitra
Along my brisk, sunny walk, I saw Vitra’s classy black-on-white signage in the distance and b-lined it for the entry! Inside I found some old friends I’ve always wanted to visit (friends being favorite products) and I made some new discoveries. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Algae, a flexible and very customizable room divider by Vitra. I’ve been a huge fan since the day I saw it, and finally got to interact with it, walk under it, and touch it! My feedback: it’s texture is much harder than I imagined but it’s still pretty cool. Overall Vitra does a number of things extremely well: 1. Choice of high-quality fabrics 2. Combinations of materials 3. Warm, minimalist design.
4th Stop: Roche Bobois
While we happen to be blessed with Roche Bobois studios in Seattle, and now in Portland, I wandered inside to see what Madrid’s location offered. We all know that more often than not, European cities set the trends for design, furniture and fashion. Instantly I was enamored with the displays of bold form and color. Now, while I admit not every space can handle these pieces, trust me, if you sit down and give it them a whirl, they do NOT disappoint. My biggest surprise here was how ergonomically comfortable these funky pieces are! Bubble, Lady B, and while I didn’t see this one, I love the color study of shapes overlapping and unique shape.
Last stop: Lago (website: lagostore.net)
I had quickly passed by this corner showroom on my way to Vitra and made a mental note that I’d absolutely return. As I walked in, each piece felt carefully curated in a very tidy, quiet showroom, while still commanding attention in their forms and patterns. Discovering this brand was quite possibly my most exciting moment all morning. From the angular wall-mounted bookcases to the felt dining chairs, I was all in from the first moment I walked in. I was delighted to find unique, intelligent full-wall closet systems through my further research back home!
Stay tuned for our next amazing travel adventure abroad! We can’t wait to share more.