Design Merchants Study Tour: Barcelona

Oh Barcelona, it was so nice seeing you again!

It was so exciting to be in Barcelona again and a great way to finish off the tour with a bang. One of the first things we did was a walking tour, led by Howard Saunders of Echochamber (who incidentally was one of the most entertaining and insightful presenters of the tour). We started off in the Santa Caterina Market for some tapas and a look around and then trailed our way through the back streets of El Born and the Gothic quarter.

It is amazing that with so many huge international Spanish retailers in Barcelona that it was actually the independent retailers, whether fashion or food, that were often the most inspiring concepts. This was to do with their strong design, brand authenticity and customer experience. One of my favourite overall concepts was Happy Pills that sold lollies in quirky medicinal style bottles.

The La Boqueria markets on Las Ramblas were possibly the best we saw on the tour food wise and you could see the pure love and respect that the retailers had for their produce in the way it was displayed.

We had presentations from Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear etc.) and Desigual among others. We also had a great store tour of several of the Mango stores as well as their Design Centre and phenomenal high tech distribution centre.

Once the tour finished up I spent an extra few days in Barcelona wandering around, getting lost and discovering new places - the best way to travel. The whole experience of the tour was so jam packed and interesting that I am still going over notes and photos several months later and I know that I will be for some time to come!

Barcelona Markets
A spectacular exotic fruit stall at the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria.

Barcelona Happy Pills
The store entrance to Happy Pills.

Barcelona Malababa
A lovely store in the Gothic Quarter, Malababa.

Barcelona sneakers
The strong central display with rows of pendant lights in Sneakers & Co.

Barcelona Dr Bloom
One of my favourite stores, Dr Bloom, with a quirky mix of fashion and succulents and fantastic visual merchandising.

Barcelona Vincon Interior
Vincon is a homewares and furniture store that is an institution in Barcelona. It has shopping bags with cool designs that have become collectible and all of their past bags are framed in the furniture area upstairs.

Barcelona Replay
Part of the window display at Replay with two of my favourite things- a living wall and a neon sign!

Barcelona Zara Home
Zara Home has exquisite visual merchandising and departments broken up into strong colour palettes and lifestyles.

Barcelona Bakery
The Hotel Praktik Bakery, a great concept that draws customers to the hotel restaurant.