Lisa Richardson and Niki Robinson of Antiques & Boutiques share their tips on how to get into the summer groove
TS: You’ve gone from bespoke tour company to fashion and interiors gurus. How did you make it happen?
A&B: We set up the tour company more than 6 years ago with the concept of showing off the city through its design and creativity. We felt there was a certain clientele that were looking for a more bespoke tour and personal shopping service. One client was so impressed with our attention to detail and ability to understand her needs and taste that, having bought an apartment here, offered us our first interior decoration project. After that moving into interiors was a natural progression.
TS: Where do you find your inspiration?
A&B: We love travel and are always inspired by different cultures, art and nature, as well as 20th century design contrasted by old design books and magazines – our office is full of them.
TS: What was your first project?
A&B: A 140m² Eixample apartment that was bought-to-let as a holiday rental. Working to a strict budget we created an elegant, modern and original interior to appeal to a broad clientele, while remaining sympathetic to its classic modernista features.
TS: What is your flagship project?
A&B: Our next project took us to Beijing, a 4-storey town house in a grassy complex on the outskirts of the city. With a bigger budget and more space, the brief was to buy all the furniture in Europe and ship it out. This project allowed us to make structural changes to the house to make better use of space and light. Working to create a modern interior with key vintage pieces, we sourced items from all over Europe, from art and antique fairs in London and Madrid, dealers’ markets around France, key design stores in London and many mid century and bespoke pieces from our favourite stores here in Barcelona. We left no stone unturned to create a harmonious flow throughout the house, We are really pleased with the results, and are now working on the final touches although it is already due to be photographed for AD magazine next year!
TS: How do you incorporate your passion for fashion into the business?
A&B: We offer a bespoke personal shopping service. Before arrival we discuss the client’s taste and needs, and based on that we put together a group of stores, galleries and ateliers suited to them, with the aim of promoting quality, high-end design within the city. Barcelona has many talented Spanish and Catalan designers who work with European fabrics and local factories. The quality to price value is fantastic and it is very competitive compared to the many designer brands that you find on Passeig de Gràcia, who tend not to make in Europe these days. A personalised tour can be anywhere between 4 hours to a whole day with lunch organised in between. A car service can also be provided on request along with any other extras. We can also arrange bespoke out of town trips to artist studios, galleries etc. on request.
TS: Who are your clientele and what are your unique selling points within these categories?
A&B: Our clients tend to be a well travelled, discerning and are here either for work or pleasure. It could be a designer on a research trip, a mother and daughter, or friends on a city break. They are often American, Australian or more recently from Asia. The importance of having someone in the know is a valued expense to them. They want to get straight to what they want, and avoid the touristy elements of the city. Finding the best stores, local design, art and interior spaces as well as meeting the people behind them gives a unique insight and connection to the city that can take even a local years to find. Our clients also might want to eat in the oldest, most hidden hole-in-the-wall, or find the coolest new cuisine in the city. Our services are there to make this happen, while making it the most enjoyable and intimate experience possible.
TS: What would you say are the key trends for summer 2015 in fashion and interiors?
A&B: We are loving statement sunglasses and earrings inspired by late 80s glamour, but our tip is to go simple on the outfit and all out on the accessories! In Barcelona Santa Eulalia (est. 1843, www.santaeulalia.com) or óptica Toscana (www.opticatoscana.com) have a great range of designer sunglasses as well as smaller, more exclusive brands.
The all-in-one is still going strong. We love it because it makes getting dressed much simpler in the morning, and works day to night with flats or heels. One of our favourite local boutiques, Cortana has a great range worth checking out (www.cortana.es).
For interiors the summertime colour palette is all cool, soft, ethereal tones or contrasting tropical brights. Look out for mixed metal finishes, cool patterned hydraulic tiles, mix and match washed linens for bedding, vintage mirrors, artisanal kitchen ware and decorative objects, and cool marble surfaces are all on our list of things for the dream summer island house!
TS: Any major no-no’s for the self-respecting stylista?
A&B: Take the inspiration you need, but don’t be lead… take the lead. That goes for what you wear and how you decorate your home. Things become samey so quickly, trends are fun for a while but once everyone and every interior starts looking the same, it’s time to move on. Trends and styles are always evolving, we keep an eye on them but it’s important to look for inspiration that is personal to you and happening around you: films, festivals, art, nature, exhibitions, street style… there is whole world of inspiration out there!
TS: So, in your madly busy sounding agenda, what’s next for Antiques & Boutiques?
A&B: We are currently looking for a cool industrial space for a client, which is set to be our next interior project. As well as this we are setting up a showroom space that will be a combined fashion, interiors and event space and we have just organised our first personal shopping experience in Paris. It’s a 5-day tour by area for one of our best clients, highlighting independent boutiques, concept stores, art galleries and ateliers. Our Barcelona, London, Milan and Florence tours all evolved because they are places that we have lived in and loved. We’ve both spent time in Paris for work and being a great European shopping destination we have been working towards starting the personal shopping tours there for some time. We will officially launch them this Autumn.