The Aesop formula of making small retail spaces feel like an entire city, by way of thoughtful interior design, can also work halfway. As the new Mykita store in Barcelona shows, a mix of local identity and brand aesthetic can also convey a grounded narrative.

The German eyewear retailer exports the handcraft-meets-high-tech look of its Berlin headquarters – a place they aptly call the Modern Manufactory – to shops in places as disparate as Cartagena and Tokyo. In the former city, the original portico of the Colonial building, with its distressed wooden doors, blends with the metal-white partitions; in the latter, the bright lights of Omotesando are replicated inside the brick building, bouncing of the same metal-white partitions.

For their newest opening, in the Catalonian capital, the in-house team of architects decided to highlight that most Barcelonian of architectural elements: the volta catalana.

This is an eye-catching contrast between an installation-like interior and historicist architecture

A few months ago, we featured another example of a retail store using the volta as its bold visual leitmotif – Kengo Kuma’s proposal for Camper. In its nearby store, also close to the Passeig de Gràcia, Mykita took the construction technique and highlighted it by keeping the ceiling free from fixtures, using the volta's preset divisions as rods for spotlights and then sharing the lighting function to a neon-tube system on the main walls.

The architects also brought out the brick tones of the surface with a grey terrazzo flooring and custom furniture in light oak wood. And it is only then, respecting the spacing and flow of the vaults, that the brand’s signature industrial-white elements are installed. ‘The installation-like character of the Mykita shop interior provides an eye-catching contrast to the historicist architecture of our new address that we hope creates an inspiring connection between the present day and the right tradition of our new neighbourhood,’ explained Mykita founder Moritz Krueger.

The takeaway: Instead of completely revamping existing spaces to fit the brand aesthetic or deploying a cost-intensive store-by-store approach, retailers can experiment with high-yielding halfway narratives.