MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

Hortense Giraud, the founder of MyBarrio, is in her element in Barcelona. The Catalan capital has transformed this former fashion buyer into a talent-spotting magpie, gathering treasures from her encounters and adventures in this sparkling city. Finding herself in such a spellbinding place she wanted to find a way to harness and showcase its creative energy. So MyBarrio was born and became her second life. Not simply a design label, it’s also a wide-reaching online community, as well as a firmly-rooted offline platform, for design lovers with chiming philosophies. With the mission to “hunt out unique design and lifestyle treasures” in this wondrous city, MyBarrio has quickly established a recognisable identity. For Hortense the selection criteria are simple: all projects must have a link with the city, and the products must be locally made. Ultimately what’s most important for her, in an ever-expanding and impersonal digital age, is a return to the community values of sharing and closeness. So she does all in her power to extract the artistic essence of this enchanting capital and make it accessible to everyone. This is a city that’s stylish, sunny, well-connected, it’s traditional and yet modern all at once, but at its core, Barcelona is electric with creative spirit. The recent opening of the 18th private members club Soho House Barcelona was a true reflection of all this. It was at this mysterious, exclusive venue that MyBarrio’s Vol.4 pop-up was held last May. It was also here that Hortense told The Socialite Family all about her future projects. We couldn’t have dreamt of a more magical setting…

Click here to read about MyBarrio and its Vol.5  pop-up taking place at the Red Fish, on June 24th and 25th.

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

Hortense, tell us your story ?

Hortense

My story is about travel, curiosity, passion, creativity, community spirit, and above all design. I was born in Madrid one 14 Juillet. French by blood and Latin by spirit, my parents liked to travel a lot so we lived in lots of places until I turned 14.  It was given the opportunity to explore countries like Spain, the US, Ecuador, Morocco and Venezuela, then under my own steam, China, Chile before finally returning to my roots, Spain.  I quickly realised that I wanted to work in creation. I took a non-specialised degree at a business school before focusing on Fashion and Design Management at l’Institut Français de La Mode, which opens doors to all sorts of ‘management’ professions that are rooted in the world of art and creativity.  The first industry I worked in was Luxury, as an intern for Dior and Chanel, then my first position was as a Ladies’ Fashion Buyer at Bon Marché (LVMH group) and little by little the world of big retailers opened up to me. I always wanted to know more about the Inditex group, it intrigued me how they had managed to always be right at the top of the fashion game, always up to speed with trends and with unbeatable prices.  And my wish was granted! I spent 4 memorable years in La Corogne working at the temple of fashion – ZARA – choosing next season’s trends as a Purchasing Manager. This experience gave me the best training for understanding the importance of pushing yourself, you work night and day and above all, you learn how a perennial fashion business develops in the creative world! Then after I hit 30, I began questioning what I wanted to do with my life, the best ways to realise my dreams and passions and how I could bring together work with my values! So as a natural extension of this thought process, I launched my own personal project MyBarrio from scratch via Instagram and bought together all the things that I love the most, lifestyle, creative people and quality design of the creative place I happened to find myself in at the time: Barcelona. And, completely organically, it took off.

How long have you lived in Barcelona?

Hortense

Since September 2015, so basically a year and a half!

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

What do you like about living in this city?

Hortense

In my eyes, Barcelona is a dream city, is practically perfect. But you must say that too loudly, it has to be kept a secret! It has everything you could want in life. It’s the unofficial cultural and economic capital; it’s accessible, not too big nor too small. It’s placed in the very center of Europe, with direct access to the sea, the mountains, skiing, Costa Brava : it’s all less than two hours away, and you can fly to the  Balearic Islands in 45 minutes. The weather is ideal, it’s a city of sun and palm trees. It has immense creative potential! There’s an enormous amount of talents, of start-ups in all fields: fashion, architecture, design, photography, illustration, web design, video, music etc. Barcelona is also the capital of technology and web start-ups. Once a year it hosts the World Mobile Congress. So it’s a very forward-looking place, but above all it fiercely protects its identity, culture, language. I like its contradictions! It’s what makes it one of Europe’s unique cities. I love its architecture, Art Deco but Modernist in the l’Eixample, but also the traditional style in the tiny old towns, called ‘barrio’ in Spanish.  Then the Barcelona meatpacking industrial quarter, called Poblenou, is the region close to the sea where there are studios, media agencies, design schools, lots of start-up offices. Finally, I also really like the  Catalans, a great mix of Spanish and French. I don’t feel too out of place and I like that!

Where do you like to go exploring ?

Hortense

Everywhere! I’m curious by nature, always looking for new places to discover in this city. I have a lot of affection for my ‘barrio,’ Vila de Gracia! It was a holiday village before it became part of the city. It reminds me of South America. Towns like in old Mexico, Carthagène, La Havane or Valparaiso. The colourful cottages, adorable garden, friendly pedestrians and no cars in sight. It’s peaceful, bohemian, everyone’s a family there: I call it the local Montmartre. It’s the kingdom of yoga centres and vegan restaurants. It’s an amazing place to live. Apart from Gracia, I like strolling around Le Raval, especially down Joaquin Costa Street, then I go down Enric Granados Street, one of the only pedestrian roads in l’Eixample, Rue Seneca in the lower part of Gracia (the street of art galleries, design boutiques like Marc Morro‘s, AOO‘s and antique shops) and finally the Paseo San Joan to escape the tourists of Paseo de Gracia!

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

Can you explain the concept of MyBarrio? How did it begin?

Hortense

Projects arise out of unresolved needs or problems, for yourself or others, or both. Hence innovation is required to solve it. For years I’d dreamed of creating a platform that brings together everything I’m passionate about, on all creative levels. Like pretty much everyone, I never have time, it’s a precious thing, and the market is awash with information. There are so many shops, magazines, events that it’s become impersonal. When I arrived in Barcelona, it took me a long time to find places I liked, to go shopping and find furniture for my new house. I found it really hard to find unique, vintage pieces. So I came up with MyBarrio to solve all this. I wanted to gather the best of Barcelona’s lifestyle seen by the locals, the insiders. I began promoting all my favourite spots and designs in town through my Instagram account, and from there it began to grow on its own. I saw there was a market here, so I created showcasing pop-up events in unique venues all over the city. MyBarrio promotes appreciation and curation of local fashion, design and lifestyle! I describe it as a “city design treasures & lifestyle hunter” with a strong identity of its own. It’s 3 in 1: a design label, a community and an online & offline platform for creatives and design lovers, who share the same philosophy of life and the same tastes. Our mission is to hunt out unique design and lifestyle treasures in the city of Barcelona, to extract its creative essence and make it accessible to everyone. We are celebrating our 1 year anniversary with a community of more than 20,000 locals: buyers, designers, places that have supported us since our debut, such as Paloma WoolAbout ArianneAprès SkiBobo Choses, le Soho House Barcelona, l’Hôtel Brummell etc. This is the community that has grown together in one year! MyBarrio “belongs” to everyone and has naturally become a collective of creative souls who all contribute to the development of the community. What is MyBarrio’s philosophy?  I really like that term! The philosophy of MyBarrio is to return to the values of sharing, community, proximity, and responsible consumption through quality, local craftsmanship. The idea is to combine aesthetics, variety and a slow pace of life!  We live in a time saturated with commercial adverts and new soul-less technology without a particular identity. And now, more than ever, as we live with a mobile constantly in hand, we feel the need to ‘connect’ with the real world while benefiting from the advantages of these networks.We have become tired of having too much to consume, almost without thinking, without worrying about the origin of the products and often searching too far for them, loosing sight of all the beautiful wonders right before our eyes. We need to recharge, ground ourselves, share and know the people behind the projects. This is what we work toward every day. In an ecosystem that is increasingly globalised, local values are in danger, and MyBarrio aims to refocus and promote the creative identity of cities in order to help keep alive the soul of places and help the financial development of local creators.

What is MyBarrio’s philosophy? 

Hortense

I really like that term! The philosophy of MyBarrio is to return to the values of sharing, community, proximity, and responsible consumption through quality, local craftsmanship. The idea is to combine aesthetics, variety and a slow pace of life! We live in a time saturated with commercial adverts and so much modern, soul-less technology that lack a particular identity. And now, more than ever, as we live with a mobile constantly in hand, we feel the need to ‘connect’ with the real world while benefiting from the advantages of these networks. We’ve become tired of having too much to consume, almost without thinking, and without worrying about the origin of the products. And often we go searching too far for them, losing sight of all the beautiful wonders right before our eyes. I feel we need to recharge, ground ourselves, share and know the people behind the projects we use. This is what we at MyBarrio work towards every day. In an ecosystem that is increasingly globalised, local values are in danger, and MyBarrio aims to refocus and promote the creative identity of cities in order to help keep alive the soul of the place and the financial development of local artisans.

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

How do you choose your creatives?

Hortense

Apart from the fact that the projects (whether with artists, artisans, designers, brands, boutiques, galleries, studios) must have a link with Barcelona, and the products must be locally made. The rest of the selection criteria is very subjective because it’s quite a personal selection that I would describe as timeless, aesthetic, artisanal and elegant. I try to capture the creative identity of Barcelona. What’s most important to me is a mix between the aesthetics of the project, the products and the artistic direction of the brand. I have a theory that even when an artist doesn’t have many resources, if they know how to communicate and take beautiful composed and coherent images, their products can really catch attention, especially if packaged and presented with a creative eye. Most of the time I find my creatives on the Internet. Today social networks have a lot of power and allow you to see in a second if another creative world will fit with your own. I’ve been trained in the big and beautiful ‘schools’ of fashion, especially at the beginning of my career with Bon Marché, as a Women’s Fashion Buyer. This department store has some of the world’s most beautiful collections. It’s refined, elegant, tasteful and timeless. I also learnt a huge amount from Zara and Massimo Dutti, wheres I was also responsible for selecting products to buy for upcoming collections. These brands have beautiful images!

Tell us how you spend your weekends?

Hortense

Well, we celebrated our first anniversary with a unique pop-up edition, Vol 4., at Soho House Barcelona, which has just opened its 18th and last club in November. The SoHo House is a private member club for people in the creative industries (fashion, music, video, photography, architecture, etc.). The event was very exclusive, not only was it the first time that the SoHo House opened its doors to the public, but also the crême de la crême of local design was there, with a fine selection of 14 designers over the 2 days. We are used to exhibiting about thirty designers from all sorts of creative industries, and we always renew the line-up to all the maximum of new projects to be discovered by the community. On this edition, we had the pleasure to present the fashion category, the woman and child line of Bobo Choses, the famous dresses of Claire, creator of Heinui, the colourful swimsuits of Suro, the vintage pieces of Nadia Pape for Los Feliz. For the accessories, visitors were able to admire the beautiful handmade sandals by Ball Pagès, the wonderful leather bags with a luxury “made in Barcelona” finish by Iriarte Iriarte, glasses by Alfred Kerbs, wallpapers of Agustina. In the furniture industry, the design brand Indoors of Arquitectura G architecture studio and the minimal creations of Metalware. In cosmetics design, Alex Carro. In creative projects 360, curators Berta Bernad and Albert Esteve, under the name Curated By, created limited mini editions with talented designers who fit into their minimal editorial lines, such as Shon MottParamentMr. Bassal and Max Enrich. As for Facoco Store, it is an up and coming project that develops a selection of fair-trade European brands like By Far but also and especially many “made in Barcelona” brands like Pale SwimwearDiarte etc.

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

Describe your inspirations and influences?

Hortense

I am very influenced by a mix of the aesthetics from tropical and Latin countries which I lived in and also Mediterranean influence. We will always find an organic, natural, warm side in the selections of photos, projects or designers with whom we collaborate for MyBarrio. I love collating vintage with contemporary and modern. I am like a sponge that easily absorbs imagery and creative worlds that I like. I like it when different creative industries meet: photography, architecture, design, interiors, fashion, music, architecture! And to that I will add the inspirations taken from my various ‘voyages’ in every sense of the word, even within Barcelona! I love street culture, the identity of the neighbourhoods with a spirit that inspires me everyday. Aside from all this, I’m a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle’s gardens, Frida Kahlo’s house, Bofill’s Muralla Roja, Wes Anderson’s movies! Basically everything to do with colours, plants, architecture and vintage!

Which object do you dream of owning?

Hortense

On my wish-list is the Cestita lamp by Miguel Milá, the editor Santa & Cole, an iconic design of the 60s that has been republished. It is a little symbol of the Barcelona’s best design!

What are your upcoming projects?

Hortense

There are a lot! MyBarrio will always continue with its offline encounters, whether it’s a pop-up in a new place, each one with a different format and concept. Or visits to unique places, or touring exhibitions. We also plan to take a digital turn with content editing, telling the stories of creators or the lifestyle of the city, but also the creation of an online shop of all these treasures!

Could you give us your 4 favourite addresses?

Hortense

It’s absolutely impossible for me to restrict myself to 4 addresses! I’ll give you my top 10! The Casa Bonay for its aestheticism, effortlessly cool and tasteful. Cañete, it’s probably my favorite restaurant, if you go ask to sit in the bar, it has much more cachet! The Taller de Arquitectura & the Walden 7 by Ricardo Bofill, you will be blown away by the uniqueness of these architectural works. The shop/workshop of Lucia Vergara, Après Ski, who paints his jewels by hand. La Vermu, the best bar to sip the best vermouth of Barcelona (with tapas naturally).  The Red Fish bar and restaurant on the beach! El Jardi, an oasis terrace hidden in the center of an old hospital of the Raval. The Servicio Continuo, a cozy bar restaurant with great taste, founded by one of the creators of Apartamento Magazine! And finally, two addresses at 20-30 minutes from Barcelona to escape from the city: the chirringuito de Garraf (cove with charming fisherman’s cottages) and L’Estupendu de Badalona, a beach bar, that makes you think you could be in California!

MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud
MyBarrio, the Second Life of Hortense Giraud

Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily

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