Barcelona is world-renowned for its design and architecture. The surreal structures of Gaudí, the fanciful art nouveau apartments that line elegant avenues, and countless, impeccably conceived cafés, restaurants and hotels keep tourists and the creative classes coming.
With such visual richness, anything new must be truly stunning to stand out. A new fashion destination called Darial absolutely is, and has brought some rare, high-end chic to the relaxed Catalan capital. Darial (which means ‘gateway’ in ancient Persian) is the creation of Djaba Diassamidze, a Georgian-born esthete who mostly resides in Paris. By definition, it is a ‘concept store’, selling an impeccably edited range of high fashion clothing, accessories, art books and enticing, high-price knick-knacks. But Darial is much more.
Interior views of the restaurant at Darial
Diassamidze is a fashion designer, creating haute eveningwear for a select clientele. His father was an architect and his mother was interested in textiles. Talking about his upbringing, it is clear that he was exposed to the finer things in life from an early age; names of obscure mid-20th century artists and designers, the esoteric tastes of the elite and famous, are clearly his happy conversational place. Apart from a few private apartments in Paris, and a now-closed restaurant inspired by “19th century aristocracy” in Georgia, Darial is his first major interior design project.
The 1,500-square metre locale was once a fabric warehouse, but had been abandoned for decades when Diassamidze first found it three years ago. “I totally fell in love,” he explains. “It reminded me of a decadent, a bit abandoned palazzo.” The first tasks were to peel back partitions and false ceilings and enlarge interior patios and light wells, which lends the ground floor space a rare luminosity.
A mezzanine was added, and the arch-roofed, lower ground floor equipped to host art exhibitions. A swish bistro (called Le Leopard) was installed to one side, forming a natural continuation of the retail area. As impressive as these structural changes are, it’s the décor that embraces you.
Bookstore at Darial
“The palm trees came to me in a dream,” says Diassamidze. “Maybe it was because I imagined Darial as an oasis, or perhaps it was the abundance of palm trees in Barcelona.”
(Palm trees are not native to Barcelona, but were introduced in the early 1990’s and have become a leitmotif of the city). In Darial, they are golden, and their trunks are original supporting iron columns. Originally, Diassamidze thought he would use papier mâché or plaster to create the billowing fronds and rippled bark, but both materials were considered too fragile. He then found a technician in Valencia skilled in 3D printing, who after two years of testing and prototyping was able to transform the columns into verdant, golden palm trees.
Clothing racks, used for displaying high fashion brands such as Dries Van Noten and Maison Margiela, were treated with the same method, draping them with creeping white ivy in the style of the Art Deco, baroque-influenced furniture maker Serge Roche.
Then there are the antique pieces; an early 19th century Chinese screen in homage to Coco Chanel, who also had one in her atelier; a hand-painted Russian theatre backdrop featuring a female warrior, red flags blazing (“she is like Marianne, no?” quips Diassamidze); and regal gold and black armchairs from a market in Brussels. Diassamidze’s visual references come thick and fast as we take in the mise-en-scène; 1940’s cinematic decoration, Frederick the Great’s ‘Chinese House’ in Potsdam, and the French new wave film ‘Last year at Marienbad’, which sees exquisitely dressed socialites aimlessly wander a baroque hotel in an impossibly elegant parallel universe.
An interior view of the gallery
Is this the desired effect for visitors to Darial? “I want my customers to feel as if they are in a palace,” Diassamidze answers. “Not in a pretentious way, but to see things discreetly shining. For me, that’s the definition of true luxury.”
Images courtesy of Darial.
Please note Darial's opening times may be subject to change in order to comply with COVID-19 regulations and social distancing rules in Spain. Harper’s Bazaar Arabia encourages everyone to stay home and to stay safe during these challenging times.
From the Spring 2020 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Interiors