At the top end of the Eixample district, there is a shop that is like no other. It was originally a private garage, and inside you can clearly make out the ramps and large spaces where cars would have pulled in to sleep for the night. But with walls now bathed in white and hung with exquisite handmade rugs it has been completely transformed and has the appearance of a hyper-stylised carpet bazaar, like those you would see in Marrakech or Istanbul, without the dust and pushy traders. This is the world of Nani Marquina, one of Barcelona’s most prolific and acclaimed designers.
Nani was born into the world of design. Her father, Rafael, was the creator of the iconic glass olive oil bottle, the ubiquitous glass dispenser you see on every Spanish dinner table. She studied textiles and founded her company in 1987 with the desire to create innovative rugs.
Soon afterwards, she started producing her products in India, learning from the centuries-old craft of rug making. For most of us, instilled with the notion that things that decorate our home just roll off a machine, witnessing this process is eye-opening. When visiting her shop, ask to see one of the ‘making of’ videos, which are beautifully shot by her partner Albert Font, an accomplished photographer. Here you will understand the craftsmanship that goes into her pieces: the hand dying of the various fibres, the techniques of the loom and the finishing by water and fire. Some rugs take three months to produce, a factor that contributes to their (relatively) high price tag.
Nani’s desire to create ‘designer rugs’ has led her to collaborate with some of the world’s top creatives, who have instilled their own visions and style into her chosen craft. Inside her shop you will see rugs signed by the Basque visionary Chillida, the fashion icon Sybilla and the French Bouroullec Brothers, whose incredibly intricate, modern interpretation of a Persian rug (called ‘Losange’) is one of the company’s best sellers.
More recently Nani has produced cheaper, simpler, rugs for everyday living – a case in point being Tres – a collection of flat weave dhuri rugs in Mediterranean tones released this year. Being a prolific traveller, you will also find a curated selection of handmade bits and bobs she fell in love with on her journeys.
Nani Marquina’s shop, which she shares with the design homewares emporium Domestico, is a reminder that all is not industrialised in the modern world, and how handmade craftsmanship still has enormous place and value.
Nani Marquina’s showroom and shop can be found on Carrer Rossello 256. Or visit the nanimarquina website to find other stockists near you.