30 Oct 2019 • Retail
Why the retail-gallery trend shows no signs of slowing – or sizing – down
Darial, a lifestyle emporium from self-described couturier Djaba Diassamidze, has something for everyone. ‘Emporium’ isn’t hyperbole: generously sized at 1,500 sq-m, the Barcelona space boasts a clothing boutique, bookstore, gallery and restaurant. What’s more, the real estate is hard to beat in terms of attracting footfall – Darial is located on the ground floor of Casa Tomàs Roger, a 19th-century landmark building in the centre of the Catalonian capital’s hip Dreta de L’Eixample neighbourhood.
Now, it’s globally en vogue for retailers to position stores as art galleries. The strategy has worked well for single-brand shops such as Axel Arigato and Ito Masaru Design Project and multi-brand ventures like Tem-Plate, among many others. Hoping to bring similar experiential flavour on a large scale to Barcelona’s market, Diassamidze developed the regionally unprecedented retail environment with acute attention to curation. The vibe was inspired by Art Deco-era cinema sets and French New Wave films – Alain Resnais’ Last Year in Marienbad is a specific example.
Towering gold palm tree pillars are focal points in the pristinely white spaces; design and decor from 20th-century masters such as Pierre Chareau, Serge Roche and Pierre Paulin is positioned to stand out against Coromandel lacquer screens. In the fashion and accessories area, products from nearly 100 brands live among furniture and design objects from Muller van Severen, Impossible Project, Lomography and Bang & Olufsen. In the bookshop, rare titles and contemporary works live on black-lacquer-and-mirror shelving. The gallery space, on the other hand, is dominated by raw concrete – it’s an area the Darial team compares to a cloister.
And then there’s Lé Leopard, the 70-seat brasserie-style restaurant named after Italian theatre director Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film. Plush red velvet banquettes from the 19th century sit beneath ceilings finished in gold leaf. Like the whole of Darial, the hospitality space draws from old-world glamour, but is decidedly contemporary thanks to clever curation. As a result, the one-stop shop indeed feels like a gallery.