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‘I looked into your eyes/And my world came tumbling down/ You’re the devil in disguise’. These lines come from ‘Beautiful Stranger’, one of Madonna’s most popular songs and the title has provided Laura and Enrico with the name for their concept store in the Sarrià neighbourhood. The shop, which opened in December last year, opts for unconventional beauty, in the form of books and design objects. Balloons that don’t fly and pens that will never run out. Paper bread baskets that can’t break and votive offerings empty of any real meaning. In Beautiful Stranger anything massproduced is given a wide berth. Instead the emphasis is put on emotions, with the aim of provoking sensory reactions in anyone who enters the shop. What you’ll find here is anything that Laura and Enrico would like to come across if they themselves were the clients.
Italian designs are the main protagonists – this makes sense when you consider that the pair are from Rome, even though they’ve lived in Barcelona for more than a decade. Among the brands from their home country, highlights include Creativando, who are specialists at giving new meaning to everyday objects. Their balloons don’t float off into the sky because they’re for hanging things on the wall. In the same way, as well as being decorative, their folded shirts, hot-water bottles, flippers and white ceramic paint pots can be used as vases or humidifiers. ‘Useless is more,’ as Joe Velluto says.
Everything has its use
The title of the cult book 'Nothing Useless' by Velluto is another of the sources of inspiration for Beautiful Stranger. Everything in the shop has a purpose, depending on how you look at it and what you use things for. That’s why they also sell baskets and handbags made by Uashmama, which have been created using washable paper that’s very resistant. You’ll also find multicolour hunting trophies, wooden birdhouses and embroidered votive offerings, all by Miho. And curious pencilfeathers made of infinite graphite by Napkin Forever. And that’s before you even start looking at the non-Italian products!
Laura and Enrico are also very keen on artisanal works, as represented in the range of products from L’Erbolario (including make-up, perfumes and air fresheners) and the Catalan brand Teixidors (shawls, blankets, scarves and more). Still, the apple in their eyes – and, to be honest, ours – are the books on design, photography and illustration in English, Italian and Spanish. As well as Velluto’s bestseller, you’ll find treasures such as Demeter by Ana Juan, a spectacular booksculpture by Hervé Tullet, and artists’ books from the collection Un Sedicesimo. Be wary, though, of attacks of Stendhal syndrome.
Jaume Piquet, 12
|Opening hours:||Mon 6pm-9pm; Tue-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-8.30pm; Sat noon-3pm; Sun closed|