Located on a busy boulevard in Barcelona’s Eixample district, the flagship store of Spanish outdoor furniture brand Kettal is unassuming from the sidewalk. The relatively narrow glass storefront welcomes passersby, but the small scale belies the spacious, high-concept interior within. Completed by longtime Kettal collaborator and celebrated Milan-based Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, the open plan design was conceived as an ode to Mediterranean outdoor living.
“Kettal gave us complete freedom,” says Urquiola of the project, describing the company as one that “thinks everyday about what it is doing and what its limits are. They are quite open to changes and evolution [and are] a very open-minded company.”
Unveiling original elements
Upon stepping inside, a visitor is compelled to look upward to the building’s original double-height vaulted brick ceiling and steel structure. The previously hidden brickwork—with an arched ceiling known locally as the Catalan arch—was uncovered and returned to its former glory during the renovation.
“The main intention was to highlight its site specificity while expressing the character of the brand,” explains Urquiola, who has worked with Kettal since 2010 on four different furniture collections. “Typical Spanish architectural features, such as the existing structure and the original brick vaults of the ceiling, were restored and emphasized.”
To the left of the entrance, floor-to-ceiling shelving units display Kettal furniture. A corridor leads to a wide, double-height atrium in the center of the shop that’s modeled on a Mediterranean courtyard. Here, a grid of timber screens reach the ceiling, unifying the two levels while delineating individual rooms within the open-plan layout. Foliage-filled planters hook onto the screens to enhance the leafy patio feel. “I love the function of the screens,” says Urquiola. “They are a nice architectural tool because they divide the space in an unobtrusive way. In fact, you can see through them.”
In the middle of the atrium, a staircase with open risers and glass banisters leads to a mezzanine, which overlooks the entrance. The rooms circling the atrium below are partitioned by wooden panels and translucent fabric screens in pastel colors.
Interior palette informed by local architecture
Throughout the interior, a palette of pure white, pale pastels, and light wood is set against a gray concrete floor and accented by splashes of terracotta, a nod to both the local architecture and the spectacular ceiling color. At the far end of the showroom, rectangular white and terracotta tiles line the walls—another reference to the Catalan vernacular and a continuation of the grid pattern, which Urquiola playfully incorporated at various scales throughout.
The building’s long and narrow townhouse setting allows daylight to enter at only the front and rear of the store. While the glass facade permits sunlight at the showroom’s street front, light in the rear enters through three large skylights and a set of four generous windows on the mezzanine level.
In addition to the fabric screens and timber partitions, Urquiola also introduced a series of three individual “boxes,” rooms realized in timber, steel, and glass that can be closed off from the rest of the store. “Each of [the boxes] has a different form that serves a different function: display, exhibition surface, and patio enclosure,” explains Urquiola. “We wanted to tell different stories for each zone by resembling various outdoor situations.”