I’m excited to share this project from October 2018.
I redesigned an old ceramics studio into a natural cosmetics shop called Biutike, C/Curia 13, in the old center of Pamplona. Before I go any further with the design, let me just say that you should really go see Leire, the owner, who has the best natural cosmetics and personal hygiene products available. She also knows absolutely everything about them and is just a lovely person all around. Check her out on Instagram or Facebook, @Biutike.
As I was saying, I redesigned an old ceramics studio into a cosmetics shop. But it was more than that. I scrubbed, painted, cut, drilled, hung, scampering up and down a ladder all day, everything. I didn’t do it alone, of course, but I was there every day getting my hands dirty and it was glorious fun. I’d like to take another moment for another tangent here. If there are any designing women out there who know of power tools made for smaller hands (preferably not pink either), please let me know. There is nothing more frustrating than having tools that seem to work against you rather than with you simply because the tools were designed for and made by people with larger hands and more natural upper-body strength, i.e. men. Those technical issues aside, most of the time things flowed and were finished in a timely fashion.
But the best part about it was that it was the first time I designed for someone else – for their taste and personality, preferences, and needs. The entire inspiration came from the owner’s tattoo – a mandala, black, purple, green, lush and yet somehow simple. While I was helping her look for a place to set up shop, this location was the only one that I walked into and felt energy. Have you ever had that experience? Walked into someplace and felt the type of energy it would provide? Well, for me it is a normal occurrence. The place had some great bones to it that I could see behind the orange paint and cluttered cabinets (see before picture). So we set to work.
We had a very small budget and so I looked to one of my favorite materials – pallets. But I didn’t want rustic for this place. It had to be refined. So we cut, sanded, and varnished the pallets and hung them from black cables. The walls needed a couple coats of paint – a barely off-white that made it glow. I added a small purple detail on a border above the counter, which was also made from a sanded and stained pallet. One of the great details of the space is a small shelf just below the ceiling, which I filled with eucalyptus branches to add just the right touch of green I was looking for. We left the ceiling and chandelier intact, which helps maintain the charm of the place, and added the simplest of lights over the counter. It doesn’t quite look like the 21st century.
Another fantastic element is the front display case. It was completely covered by wood panels when we found it. Again, all that it really needed was to be revealed, not changed. It lets in the most beautiful light and provides Leire a space to play with to her heart’s content – showing off new products and changing the seasonal concept. After cutting the pallets to make the shelves, we had plenty of pieces leftover that she now uses to create levels in the display case, perfectly tying together the elements of the store and recycling/reusing what would have otherwise been wasted. Sustainable design based on reused things that have been redone is my favorite way to work. And Biutike is full of them! Even the umbrella holder is a ceramic piece made by the former artisan who owned the studio. We decided to leave it in place and its colors also match the original inspiration – her tattoo.
Moving outside, I knew that we needed a bold color. Looking up and down the street, everything else was a pale neutral. But the exterior of this place was already a dark burgundy and it just stood out in a street full of pale colors. I figured – why not go with it in an even bolder way? So we chose a deep, rich purple that looks like black plum in the shade and a sparkling gem in the sunlight. It also happened, that when I was looking on Pinterest (my absolute favorite) for color ideas, the color that we had chosen turned out to be the Pantone 2018 Color of the Year. An amusing coincidence to me, because the year that we built Poise, I also inadvertently chose the color of the year that year for my logo and webpage etc. I somehow seem to soak up the patterns of what is coming next without actually hunting for trends.
It sure was a wild ride. Some frustrations and unforeseen issues, but what part of life doesn’t have those things? One of the best parts was that I got to build something new for someone else while I was closing my studio. It was truly a gift to get to work on bringing Biutike to life.