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When in Barcelona, you will want to check into one of the several new or refurbished and distinctively cool hotels that have opened there recently. Among them, W Barcelona, located on La Barceloneta and designed by architect Ricardo Bofill, and the swish apartment residences of El Palauet that we featured in October.
The latest hotel launch capturing design media attention is Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group operates in 25 countries, but this is its first entry into southern Europe. Mandarin Oriental Barcelona’s official opening was celebrated in November 2009 with a lavish gala attended by the city’s style leaders and elite.
The hotel’s cool factor is a lucky combination of three elements: The convenience of the central location on Passeig de Gràcia, the good bones of the refurbished 20th-century former bank building, and most significant, the tour de force of design by Spanish-born Milano-based architect, Patricia Urquiola, responsible for the interior decor of the 98-room hotel, including most of the furnishings.
Urquiola is best known for her prolific career in designing clean-lined furniture and accessories for brands such as Foscarini, B&B Italia, Alessi, Capellini, Cassina, Knoll and Moroso. At Mandarin Oriental Barcelona she has created a strong sense of timeless elegance by using white confidently and lavishly, and by applying a Scandinavian sense of scale and clean lines.
To soften the linear angularity, Urquiola added beautiful touches that reflect the weightlessness and precious fragility of origami or intricate lace. The overall effect is stunning. - Tuija Seipell
Established by the Berneda family in 1939, Barcelona’s own sports shoe house Munich continues to stay on top of things. In the 1970s, Munich made tracks with the Made in Barcelona footwear line and the X logo.
The Munich flagship store was designed by Ignasi Llauradó and Eric Dufourd of dear design, a design and architectural firm the two established in Barcelona in 2005.
Dark-glass surfaces, mirrors, metal trees and cage-like boxes hanging from the ceiling (from which the shoes have “escaped”), all carry a carefree, experimental and impermanent air. The angular and clunky space with its hard edges and seemingly moving parts is clearly an attempt to say that the septuagenarian brand is nowhere near slowing down. - Tuija Seipell
Not so long ago, we noticed the handiwork of Deardesign when they created the Munich sports shoe concept store in Barcelona’s massive L’illa Diagonal.
Now Ignasi Llauradó and Eric Dufourd, the founders of the Barcelona-based design and architecture studio, have completed another flagship store in the same mall. This time, the store belongs to local fashion brand Lurdes Bergada, Syngman Cucala, established by the 30-year fashion veteran, Lurdes Bergada.
In keeping with the fashion brand’s industrial and minimalistic style, Deardesign created a vast hangar-like feel by including all of the functions of the store – both client-facing and back-room – under one roof, but separating them with a curving wall.
This wall, created with 1,000 pieces of beech wood screwed together by 2,400 screws, forms an igloo-like huge presence and becomes a focal point that emphasizes the size of the entire space. Each piece of wood is unique and each piece is visibly numbered – a necessary technical detail for building the wall and a creative design idea to expose the “making of” and to bring attention to the construction features. The use of concrete, wood and cement further adds to the warehouse-like atmosphere.
The clothing brand is all about simple, clean lines and technical ability, and the industrial feel of the store interior echoes this beautifully.
Lurdes Bergada and her son, Syngman Cucala, are known for the practicality and high quality of their fashionable clothing for both men and women, sold in their five stores (including two in Madrid) of which the first opened in 1978.
For Deardesign, this flagship is an impressive addition to their already impressive retail client list that includes LVMH Group, Burberry, Nike and Sephora. Ignasi Llauradó is an industrial designer educated in Barcelona and Eric Dufourd is a Paris-trained interior designer. They established Deardesign in 2005. - Tuija Seipell
We love the deliciously pastelly mood and the interplay of light and shadow in the new Mordisco restaurant in Barcelona’s Eixample district. Designed by Sandra Tarruella Interioristas, the former family residence now exudes a Scandinavian modern clarity, yet preserves some of the touches, such as the massive staircase and the ceiling cornices, from the high-ceilinged grand home.
The patio is now covered and functions like a sun room or greenhouse, bringing the greenery close to the diners. At the entrance, a little grocery area offers the guests fresh vegetables and produce and many other fine ingredients used in the restaurant’s kitchen.
Mordisco is part of the Grupo Tragaluz hospitality family empire founded in 1987 by mother and son Rosa Maria Esteva and Tomas Tarruella. Tragaluz began with the fist Mordisco restaurant and has since expanded to include several restaurant concepts and the boutique hotel OMM. - Tuija Seipell
In its latest incarnation, Barcelona’s El Palauet is now appearing as a most desirable home away from home. Six luxurious apartments, each approximately 150 square meters in size and designed to please even the most demanding traveler, are available for rent for stays of three days or longer.
With the confident charm of the well-lived and well-looked-after, the 1906 modernist building’s residences ooze affluence, elegance and tradition, while at the same time sporting the latest technology, connectivity and gadgets.
The beautiful details and ornamentation of the building are matched by the high-end designer interiors and furnishings throughout the apartments, and in the common spaces. A private spa with a Finnish sauna is open exclusively for the guests and located on the terrace that opens to views of Passeig de Garcia and the Tibidado mountain. A-la-carte hotel services from daily breakfasts to private chefs and butlers are also available.
In Paris, the ten gorgeous apartments at La Réserve offer a similar degree of luxury and design-savvy for those who want a city experience that is more like being a resident and less like being a tourist or a visitor.
While this level of opulence may be too much for most of us, the trend to opt for apartment-style city living rather than traditional hotels is starting to become more and more prevalent. If you have found an exceptional city residence that is available for rent, please let us know. - Tuija Seipell