Cult Shop: the design store with made-in-Spain verve
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The story behind Llop – the fashion and design shop set on a picturesque street in the Las Letras neighbourhood of Madrid – can be traced back to 1945. It was then that founder Alex Llop’s grandfather left the south of Spain, found work at a textile factory in rural Cataluña, and began to use a farcell cloth, a chequered fabric traditional to the region that was used as a scarf, a carrying sack or a tablecloth. Years later, Llop found inspiration in his grandfather’s farcell, which had been handed down to him by his mother. “I wanted to explore how this very humble cloth could be transformed into something quite luxurious,” he says. Using his 25 years of experience in Italian haute couture, he reimagined the fabric as clothing.
This collection became the starting point for a personal journey into Spanish craft. Practised in scouring the world for exquisite painted fabrics to grace the runways of Milan, Llop applied this same approach to Spanish design and was astounded by the diversity of contemporary makers he uncovered – from the wind-swept expanses of the Catalan Empordà to the sun-soaked Balearic Islands.
The fruits of his explorations now line the whitewashed walls of Llop, alongside the original chequered clothing. Prósper Riba Vilardell’s playful collection of glass vases in bold colours (€65) sits beside globular wax candles from Mulier Studio (from €22) and the concrete creations of Sergi Serra Mir – ranging from craggy totems to characterful busts and concrete canvases (€85). New clothing collections blend references to workwear and classical tailoring, reimagined to fit Llop’s vision for a modern Spanish lifestyle brand. Everything is united by a pared-back sensibility, harmonious colour palette and commitment to made-in-Spain.
Sculptural jar totem 1, 2 and 3, €240 each
Fig and amber and palo santo and tonka candles, €65 each
Ceramics loom large. Llop began with “terracotta from the town near where I grew up in Cataluña, [which] captures that sense of honesty to material and commitment to craft” and has since expanded to include the traditional terracotta bowls of Cerámica Mundet (made using a technique that dates back to the Roman Empire, from €9.50) and the pastel-hued geometric forms of Núria Soler Romeo (from €220). “This is not luxury as branding, but luxury because of the craftsmanship, because of care and connection to the land,” he says.
Although the store represents a spectrum of Spanish design, it feels as though a love letter to Cataluña is at the heart of Llop’s project, which he describes as “a little corner of the Mediterranean in central Madrid”. He achieved his vision by whitewashing the walls, opening up the windows and flooding the space with light, “so that it feels like the coastal Mediterranean architecture you find around towns like Cadaqués”. Downstairs, the basement has been painted brilliant white, creating a barrel-vaulted sanctuary reminiscent of Balearic Island chapels. “When I’m here I’m in my bubble,” Llop says, “like I’m at the seaside.”
Having spent his career working for Italian luxury brands who believe that “Italian craft is always the best”, Llop is excited to focus on the specialisms of his native land. “Once I started exploring Spanish craft I realised that it’s just as powerful, and that I needed to show a side of Spain that few people get to see.” When asked what the next stage of this intergenerational journey might hold, Llop simply says: “My only plan now is to settle in and enjoy every moment.” A vivir!
Llop, San Pedro 9, Local 4, Barrio De Las Letras, Madrid; llopmadrid.com