Espacio Brut in Madrid
When I walked into Espacio Brut my designer heart skipped a beat: stunning colors, handmade contemporary wooden furniture and even a few plants and exciting plant pots! Welcome to this design shop in the heart of Madrid, filled with delicious Spanish design items and furniture!
Even though I'm not a big carpet lover (our cats would only destroy them with their paws), I really feel this striking color combo. What's not to love about this sleek design of the Banko01 bench and interesting Humilite carpet by Valentin Garal:
A mini exhibition with work of Juan Carlos López Davis in the gallery of the store, paired with the Espacio Brut custom furniture:
I had an immediate crush on the new Silla03 chair with its touch of Jean Prouvé. The wooden finish and min green color are amazing. The chair also comes in red:
And a matching sideboard / bookcase / cabinet, that comes in two pieces: the legs and top:
Espacio Brut also carries brands like String, Iittala, Muuto, Rouge du Rhin, Sisman, Duplex papeles mínimos and the cool plant pots called Faceta by Studio Francesc Gasch and graphic artwork (the circles in the first picture) by Toni Ferrer. A must visit in Madrid, if you love good design.
Espacio Brut /// Calle Pelayo 68 /// Madrid /// +34 910 258 963
A peek inside Expormim factory
What can change your ideas and opinions about a beautiful design object? A peek of the production process; by visiting a factory with its particular smell, the functional tools, large production halls and the talented people that work there! I believe it makes you better understand the craftsmanship, knowledge, materials and time that go into creating a piece. And the price tag attached to it.
South of the city of Valencia, in Moixent, I got to visit the showroom and factory of Expormim, a family business founded in 1960, that creates indoor and outdoor furniture and is famous for their wicker and rattan furniture. You may know them from the hanging rattan seat Nautica by Mut Design, which is used in many contemporary homes and won a Red Dot award in 2014.
On the left is the current set of Expormim chairs, based on the originals from the 1960s, on the right:
Expormim was founded in 1960 as “La Exportadora del Mimbre” (the exporting company of wicker) and originally made wicker baskets, with raw materials from central Spain. Throughout the years this family business made a transition to specialising in outdoor furniture and high quality handcrafted manufacturing methods. And that's exactly what I got to see with my own eyes: talented handcrafters that created the most complex furniture in rattan, wicker, wood or sythetic fibers.
Their current showroom is located in a 18th century building that used to be the regional Post Office and a Hostel for traveling globetrotters... on horses! Below is Tiffany sliding by the beautiful courtyard:
Expormim keeps reinventing their classical pieces from previous decades, in slightly bigger versions because people are so much taller nowadays, and they also add new designs to the product catalogue, by working with famous designers like Jaime Hayon, Mut Design and Benedetta Tagliabue. This is a set of a Tina armchair and Pepe sofa designed by Benedetta Tagliabue for Expormim:
After visiting the showroom with its finished products, off we were for the coolest part: the factory where all Expormim furniture is produced... by hand! Like the Huma dining chair:
An important part of wicker crafts: the steam that helps to bend the material into their final shape:
Do you recognize the moulds of the Tina & Pepe armchair & sofa designed by Benedetta Tagliabue?
Here they are again:
And here are they are enjoying the sun at the rooftop of Benedetta Tagliabue's studio in Barcelona:
Not all Expormim furniture is made from wicker and ratan, they also make products in steel, synthetics fibers, technical fabric and wood. Pictured below are the hands of one of the talented craftwomen at the factory: the Expormim team found her through their network of artists: she mastered specific weaving techniques in her own home atelier, and they immediately decided to hire her. She currently works on the new hand woven Lapala line. Can you believe that the nautical rope of this chair is only 1 piece?! Pretty impressive, right?!
A big pile of Expormim Coqueta dining chairs ready to be shipped. Maybe to your home?
Hotel Alexandra in Barcelona
Staying in a beautiful hotel at two steps from the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona was not the main goal of my stay in the capital of Catalonia last month. But coming home to a very comfortable room after a long day of Sunny Design exploring, felt like pure luxury. Hotel Alexandra Barcelona, part of the Hilton Doubletree group, is a boutique hotel with a contemporary style featuring the best in Spanish design. From furniture, lights to the design of the restaurante y charcutería called Solomillo; all details are designy and elegant. The cool "detail" was that we got to meet several Spanish designers that created the designs used in Hotel Alexandra during our week in Spain. Just like the Santorini lamps from Marset in the urban jungle patio:
Said urban jungle patio was definitely my favorite space of the hotel, the lush plants, comfy couches and view on the pool area and garden were so dreamy. A discreet sanctuary in the heart of Barcelona, at just minutes walk from touristic highlights like Casa Batlló and La Pedrera as well as some of my favorite places in Barcelona. After a busy day in the city it was very nice to unwind amongst big Elephant plants, crawling Hoyas, bamboos and grasses. With a cocktail in hand, of course ;)
Interior architects Maria and Jorge, from Borrell & Jover, designed the luxious patio, pool and garden (as well as several bedrooms in the hotel and the hotel's restaurant Solomillo). They worked with multiple layers to visually separate the different areas, and cleverly covered the roof of an underground cinema with a wildflower and vegetable garden. Which also provides the restaurant with organic herbs and veggies!
Below is a photo of my room with its earthy colors, Spanish fan and Eclipse lamp by Objekto. The bed was actually my second favorite place in the hotel: king size and very comfortable. Unfortunately I spent too little time in there, but you don't want to sleep long hours when you are in a city that has so much to offer as Barcelona, right?
Another great feature of my room at Hotel Alexandra: the view on the lush urban jungle patio downstairs. Those Elephant ears made my heart sing, even before breakfast ;)
I loved waking up to this big city view of Barcelona with drying laundry, the lush veggie and wildflower garden and the swimming pool:
Gorgeous Strelitzia plants waved me goodbye at this sweet boutique hotel. I can't wait to come back here and finally dip my toes into the pool!
Full disclosure: Hotel Alexandra Barcelona was our host during the Sunny Design Days tour in Barcelona, but as usual: all photos and words are my own. I had a wonderful stay and warmly recommend you to stay here during your time in Barcelona :)
Cacto Cacto in Madrid
Cacto Cacto is THE place in Madrid where you can stock up on beautiful cactus plants and succulents. For our #urbanjunglebook we recently gathered some of our favorite plant shops from around the world and this one was also on our list. And while I love checking out the most inspiring instagram accounts of some plant shops, visiting them in real life is so much better. You get to talk to the passionate shop owners and appreciate all the species from up close. Cacto Cacto: what's in a name? This shop is entirely dedicated to cactus plants! A bit like Les Succulents Cactus here in Paris, but with a completely different range of plants and the decor is very different as well. Check it out:
Mini succulents and cacti at display in the shop... which one would you pick?
Some more outdoor plants, to turn your Madrilan terrace or balcony into a green oasis:
It's nearly impossible find any big and tall cacti here near Paris, but at Cacto Cacto they had some impressive ones. Unfortunately they didn't fit in my suitcase ;)
As an extra bonus, Cacto Cacto has two fantastic neighbors: a plant shop and a flower shop! At Margarita se llama mi amor you'll find an impressive variety of houseplants, like Ficus lyrata, Calathea, Zamioculca, ferns and palms. And not just small potted plants for a window sill, but also tall mini trees and lush foliage statement pieces. The flower shop is also pretty amazing. I'm not sure if it was because I visited during the Madrid Gay Pride weekend, but their fresh cut flowers were organised in a rainbow gradient ♥
Small hanging terrariums with mini succulents in the shopwindow:
Cacto Cacto /// Calle Fernando VI, 7 /// 28004 Madrid /// Spain /// +34 913 10 38 84
Behind the scenes of #urbanjunglebook
Time for a peek behind the scenes of the making of our #urbanjunglebook!
If you have been following our Urban Jungle Bloggers adventures lately, you know Igor and I have been working on our first book since January. Together with fellow plants lovers, bloggers, our talented photographer Lina, an illustrator and a graphic designer we created an inspiring and useful book. In less than 1 month it comes out in both English and German and we're very excited to share it with the world. It's been a wild ride, but a very green one too!
My favorite part of the bookmaking process was traveling to all the (very!) different homes in Europe. Together with Lina, Igor and I visited five homes in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Holland and France. We couldn't have wished for more lovely homeowners that welcomed us with open arms. I bet they were extra lovely because we share a deep love for plants ;)
Anyway, in all five homes we spoke with the owners about living and styling with plants and asked them to share their plant care routines and care tips. We bonded over plant quirkinesses (we're plant nerds after all!), exchanged plants and cuttings, cuddled the fluffy cats and shared many lovely meals and laughs. After a lot of hard work, we came home with very plant-y stories and tons of beautiful photos by Lina.
Remember the saying that "people that love to eat are always the best people"? I think that counts for plant lovers too: beautiful plants and yummy food are a winning combination!
When you'll read the Urban Jungle book in a few weeks, you will notice the diversity of the homes in the book. We also worked with 18 talented bloggers that provided plant styling ideas and you will see that, whether it's one cactus in a window sill, or 600 plants in an entire home, plants are a very natural part of all the homes in the book. They make an interior even more personal and alive, and turn a house into a home.
The majority of making a book is not very visual though. The days of writing, emailing, 30.000 Facebook messages, Skype and phone calls, text and layout revisions are not very photogenic ;) But we know the result will be! We paired the beautiful images with lots of helpful plant care tips & tricks, styling ideas, more info about ten popular houseplants, as well as our favorite plant shops from around the world.
Our Urban Jungle book comes out on September 9th in two languages: in English and in German (it's called "Wohnen in Grün"), with two different covers. Before they come out, we will share a few more sneek peaks on the Urban Jungle Bloggers website, so stay tuned! And a big thank you to everyone who already pre-ordered a copy and sent us the sweetest messages, tweets and emails. We hope you will love the book as much as we do!
Also check out Igor's Happy Interior Blog for more behind the scenes photos!
If you like to pre-order your copy of #urbanjunglebook on Amazon, follow the links below:
Pre-order your English copy HERE (UK) /// HERE (US) /// HERE (FR) /// HERE (IT) /// HERE (ES)
Santa & Cole at Parc de Belloch
Santa & Cole is this brand that you know unconsciously. At least I did. Their street lights brighten several big avenues in Barcelona (and other cities) and their lamps and furniture reside in many homes, hotels and offices around the world. Santa & Cole actually don't design their products themselves, they are an editing company, which means they publish designs from others. Timeless, high quality pieces from well selected materials. That you instantly recognize once you flip through their catalogue.
During Sunny Design Days, we were invited to meet one of the founders of Santa & Cole, Nina Masó, at their headquarters at Parc de Belloch, a knowledge parc near Barcelona, that they acquired in 2003. The large parc and school building from the 1960s were not for sale at the time, but the Santa & Cole team somehow managed to become owners of the parc, which now focuses on communication and industrial design. The story of the building, a former school, and their intention to turn it into something good, totally hit home for me. Our own building, also from the 1960s, wasn't for sale either and look where we live now, twelve years later.
Parc de Belloch is a peaceful haven at 30 km from Barcelona, it's spacious and located on a hilltop, with wide open spaces, covered passages, large lawns and lots of pines and palm trees. The main building has a contemporary feel with a hint of midcentury. Inside, Nina Masó kindly introduced us to Santa & Cole, and their philosphy of editing other designer's designs. I loved how we got to peek into their creative workspaces, where designs in different stadiums of development where laying and hanging around in what used to be classrooms of the school.
Speaking of hanging around: pinewood structures of the famous Santa & Cole Cestita lamp hanging from the ceiling:
Everywhere in the building are small, or bigger details, that remind you of the previous function of the building, like this music ♬ blackboard:
Cesta, Cestita and their metallic brothers and sisters:
Prototypes of different lampshades:
Below you see the M64 lamp by Miguel Mila, designed in 1964 and reedited in 2013. The new version features a very flat LED light that simply carries the lampshade. When you lift the lampshade you can easily take it off and change it for a different shade, like any of the designs on the table:
Big Leonardo lamps catching the golden hour light:
What's not to love: palm trees and wall art:
Another highlight of the Parc de Belloch, is the former church, that is not in use as such anymore. Nina told us she and the other Santa & Cole co-founders, used to go to church here when they were kids. Nowadays they get to work in this same place! The top image of this post is from the Cirio circular in the church. Don't you think it looks stunning?
The luxury of spacious offices and outdoor gardens, terraces and covered passages, at Parc de Belloch:
After our visit of the Santa & Cole headquarters, a long table with lovely food and drinks waited for us under the trees in the garden. The team of La Horta de Belloch prepared us beautiful locally grown, organic and vegetarian food which tasted so good. All beautifully displayed on and under Santa & Cole's Blancowhite table tamps:
Al fresco dinner under the trees in the parc:
Flowers from the garden and sponge cakes wrapped in leaves (paired with apricot jam they were to die for!) Also served: fresh yogurt with myrtilles, homemade gazpacho, falafel with tsatsiki, a fresh cucumber salad, Spanish omelette, zucchini pie with goat cheese... and wines, craft beer and homemade ice tea to go with it. Yummm!
La Horta de Belloch is an agro-ecological project located in the heart of Parc de Belloch. All the vegetables are grown organically, without machines, collected by hand in the morning and slow cooked. Honest, simple and sooo good! I hope you can tell from the pictures, and if not: just believe me ;)
Muchas gracias Santa & Cole, Nina and Raquel and the guys from La Horta de Belloch for the memorable visit and dinner!
More photos from our visit on Santa & Cole's blog!
@joelixjoelix on instagram