In a new wave of thinking about brick and mortar retail, reimagining the physical store, creating spaces where merchandise and art collide
An untraditional atelier
Darial Barcelona is a new fashion concept encompassing luxury homeware, a bookstore, seventy seat restaurant, an art gallery and an untraditional atelier in the heart of the city. The process of starting this new venture began three years ago as the brainchild of Georgian fashion designer Djaba Diassamidze.
“I discovered the art scene in the city,” he explains. “One of the people I met while I was there was this local artist called Guillermo Santomá. Then this idea came to me of an art installation with which we could present a shop so people from Barcelona could discover what was coming next.”
What has materialized is the opposite of their initial musings. Instead they pay tribute to artists in this Catalan city and use them to present a vision of Darial Barcelona from their own eyes—through their own work. This unique methodology led to the partnership between Diassamidze and Apartamento, who have since developed the visual identity of the brand. With the ethos finally nailed down, they just needed a name. “We wanted something smart, powerful both in terms of image and of concept. We discovered this word ‘Darial’, which in old Persian means ‘gate to’.” This led to the idea of Darial Barcelona being one gate to the worlds of art, fashion, food and literature.
Before embarking on this project, Diassamidze had been focused on developing his own collections—which he continues to do so—and managing his own maison, Djaba Diassamisdze. Now, having created this space where different kinds of artists and creatives can showcase their creations within a vitrine or gallery-esque space, he thinks of the process as being his own version of couture: “That’s where the link between the two becomes obvious.”
He also doesn’t believe in the concept being divided between mediums. “Each space has its own identity and its own message. Books are where our inspiration comes from. The gallery is where we can express our inspirations and creations. The shop is a space where an already developed creation can be shown, shared and explained to a client.”
When it comes to realising a major project such as this, many would take a side-line approach and direct from the periphery. Not here—the architecture and interior design were personally curated and instigated by Diassamidze. “All comes from me. My father is an architect so of course I asked him for a little help.” The design started with the location and an adoration for the bustling, visually striking neighbourhood of Dreta de l’Eixample captures the artistic energy of Barcelona; “We discovered this almost untouched open space completely abandoned from the 19th century.”
The golden motif
Once inside, it doesn’t take long to notice a running theme throughout the space – gold. An extension of Diassamidze’sown sartorial creations, the colour runs through the space like veins holding the structure together. In places they are holding the structure together, in the form of gilded palm tree pillars.
Through a series of high arches, the space is presented as a galleria, interweaving retail categories that flow naturally into one another. Gilt pillars stand bold against the white cube walls, while plush ivory carpets and black lacquer finishes are reminiscent of an art deco film set. Ceilings adorned with the brands signature tone clash brilliantly with 19th-century banquettes upholstered in red velvet. The end of the expanse sees a cloister-like space, which evolves and moves to fit the needs of the artists, creatives and collections.
The store is an example of an experiential lifestyle outpost, boasting a curated edit, and approaching clothing was of course nothing new for Diassamidze and his team. Starting from a list of names that he admired, from deity-tier brands to old friends and those in-between, they were inspired by what they wear and what they would love to wear. “Everyone has a style and you can’t mix too many things together. For me choosing a brand is a process of paying tribute to designers whom I consider colleagues. It’s all natural and free—I wouldn’t say it’s only my taste but my expression of respect for other designers and creative houses.”
Focus on the physical experience
Darial Barcelona currently carries more than 100 womenswear and menswear ready-to-wear brands including the likes of Acne Studios, Courrèges, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackerman, Jil Sander, JW Anderson, Marni, Maison Margiela, Proenza Schouler, Raf Simons, The Row and Thom Browne. Homeware brands include Pierre Chareau, Cire Trudon, Alex Carro, Octaveo, Bang & Olufsen, Muller Van Severen.
Beyond the clothes, lay an expanse of rare printed publications in custom-fitted wooden shelves which tie together influential pieces across the art, design and fashion worlds. “I am a collector of books—I love to read them, to smell them. Digital mediums are overtaking print, so it was important for me to give objects and material things to people who want to make them become a part of their own history, of their own place, by creating their own collection.”
The focus on the physical experience will soon extend into live events which are currently in the pipeline, emphasising the need for the space to feel alive and the idea of it belonging to anyone who wants to create and present a concept.
Darial’s restaurant, Le Léopard, was the one part of the set-up that couldn’t be handled entirely by Diassamidze and his own team—understandable given the scale of the operation and the variety of instruments on the table here. “I had a defined idea of what I wanted. A dramatic, almost cinematic place in which people coming to Darial could feel comfortable and spend hours eating and drinking and talking, which I find very important for any creative process. I could create the interior design, I could choose the cutlery, the idea. It’s like when I receive people at my house. I try to cook even though I’m not the best at it but it’s always good to let friends cook and have people around.” If the modern brasserie, serving an ever evolving market-driven menu—centred on French, Italian and Spanish cuisines—is the standard of his friends cooking, then they must be some dinner parties.
On the subject of future plans for the concept, Diassamidze’s response was cryptic, making a singular statement – “Paris comes next.”
Text Daniel Love
Carrer d’Ausiàs Marc 37