For the last few weeks, Naomi and I have been into an adventure of discovering the right materials for the product we are creating: fabrics, paper, boards, tools, and all short of inspirational nick knacks.
After four and a half years living in the USA, I have to say that little old shops are one of the things I miss the most from Europe. Naomi and I talk about it all the time. We think it’s a tragedy how the USA steadily lost the cultural and social richness of small commerce in favor of giant companies and chains. Sadly, this virus is also now affecting old Europe and some of the treasures are going fast there too.
When Naomi and I first talked about the kind products that we wanted to create, there was something very clear in our minds: we wanted to bring back the human touch and crafty feeling from the old days.
Oh boy! I so miss those rainy afternoons in Madrid and London when I would go treasure hunting to these ancestral shops! Having been involved in different kinds of creative products myself -art, design, paper crafts, book binding, engraving- these journeys became a magical experience to me.
In downtown Madrid, only in a ½ miles radius, I could visit the oldest shops specialized in all short of materials: fabrics, papers, engraving tools… The kind of old-fashioned business where the clerk who could be your grandpa and he would spend all the time in the world just to attend your inquiries and he’d always teach you something new. The kind of mysterious haunt where you would always leave the shop with something in your bag better than what you were looking for and your mind would be completely over-excited all the way back home just to start working on your project.
This was one of my favorite places for engraving materials. Founded in 1890 and carried by 4 generations! I’ll never forget the smell of paper…
Ribes & Casals was my favorite spot to find fabrics. The two-floor store is huge and you can find almost anything under the sun in there.
Believe me, you couldn’t imagine what strange patterns I have found in there… You bet.
Pontejos is the most infamous haberdashery in Spain.
It was founded in 1860 and just to step inside, in the middle of a crowd looking for all short of stuff is such an adventure.
Curtidos Lobejón it’s not just one of the best places to find any type of leather and tools, but a wonder in deco design.
Riesgo is still the best drugstore in Madrid, especially if you are looking for very specific products, such as color pigments.
They would sell you the stuff by weight, just like in the old days. No wonder, the shop was founded in 1866.
Carlos Luque. This shop and manufacturer is specialized in gloves and it has been in business since 1896.
It’s not a materials shop but very often I would go to buy gloves and mittens just for the illusion that I was back in the 40’s.
This is what we’re looking for. We want a practical and clever product that will make our lives better. But we want it to be organic. And we want to feel the magic of a time when objects used to be an extension of the way we dream the world.