Heavy rocks as display tables? Terribly impractical but terribly good

Barcelona – Occupying a street corner in Barcelona’s vibrant Gothic Quarter, the MAM Originals flagship raises the value of a bricks-and-mortar establishment by offering something money can’t buy: the art of individuality. The brainchild of Barcelona-based designers Guillermo Santomà and Diego Ramos, the shop looks like anything but. Marrying art with retail, MAM Originals breaks conventions to bring the unexpected to the table. ‘The idea was to create something that stands outside traditional notions of what a shop should be,’ said Santomà. ‘It’s more of an installation than a retail space.’

Comprising a few simple elements, the accessories store offers little in the way of furniture and materials. ‘It’s very simplistic,’ added Santomà. ‘We designed the whole thing in a day.’ The flagship took a mere 60 days to complete. For months, the 90-sq-m space didn’t even have a door. ‘We wanted to open it up to the city.’

To deter shoplifters, a glass door was eventually put in place. Nevertheless, two large windows unobstructed by logos or merchandise provide views to and from the interior. ‘The store is like a big window,’ continued Santomà. Outlined by a bright blue frame, the new door could also be mistaken for such an aperture.

‘The shop is meant to mimic the experience of walking through the city, through a kind of urban landscape,’ said Santomà. At the front, four large rocks double as display tables. Slender steel rods sprout from each boulder to present the brand’s line of wooden wristwatches and eyewear, items that are easy to remove and replace, thanks to a special modular component. Weighing between 1,000 and 2,000 kg each, the rocks provide an inexpensive – though perhaps not terribly practical – alternative to traditional display furniture.

Industrial partitions and shelves made from perforated steel steer visitors through the space, while a translucent screen of orange-tinted glass forms a solid quarter-round arch – a reference to the sun, perhaps – adding a pop of energy to an otherwise blue backdrop. Overhead, fluorescent tubes gradually shift from cool to warm, re-creating the sense of natural light as it changes throughout the day. ‘The shop is a play between nature and artifice,’ said Santomà. ‘Somehow you always find nature at MAM Originals, even if it’s artificial.’


This piece was originally featured on Frame 116. You can purchase a copy here.

Location Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 40, 08003 Barcelona

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Frame 116

The May/June issue of Frame is a special one, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. We present 20 designers and brands – from household names to emerging talents – that we expect to lead the way in spatial design in years to come. We showcase 20 interior projects that represent 20 strategies for designing spaces, and go beyond the conventional scope of design to find 20 visions that frame the future.

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