In Poblenou, Espai Mietis is the exquisite new showroom for a fresh, young, Catalan bag maker.
Unless you are one of the countless people who swear they would never live anywhere else, taking an occasional stroll through Poblenou is full of surprises. A new vegan cafe, a showroom laden with vintage furniture you had somehow missed before, or a designer co-working space that you later see used as a backdrop for a fashion shoot – this once cruddy neighborhood-by-the-sea is a gift that keeps on giving. Espai Mietis, a dazzling showroom and atelier for the leatherwear brand of the same name, is the new cherry on the cake.
At only 27 years old, Maria Fontanellas is the creative force behind Mietis. She had a fortuitous start. Her father is the owner of a leather production facility in Igualada, the central Catalan town by the Anoia River that was once famed throughout Spain for the quality of leather produced in its numerous tanneries. Her father’s company, the only one remaining, produces prestige quality pelts for brands such as Gucci, formed her love of the material. “During school holidays I used to help out in my father’s factory,” she remembers.
My absolute favorite place was the sample room, where they would experiment with colors and finishes.
Fontanellas went on to study fashion design at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan before returning to Barcelona to launch Mietis with the help of her father, who perfected her raw material’s fine, buttery qualities.
The newly opened Espai Mietis is a place where people can see, touch and buy Fontanellas leather creations. For a new company (Fontanellas won ‘Best Emerging Talent’ at Barcelona Fashion Week in 2017) Mietis has a clearly defined language – and it’s spoken in technicolor. There are clear influences from aesthetic movements born before she was; the Art Deco revival that was part of the glam rock era (think the feather boas worn by Marc Bolan and Angie Bowie on the cover of Pinups); the bold color blocks employed by the Italian Memphis design group, and the youthful, candy-tinged tones of bubblegum pop. Forms are both geometric and curvilinear, solid, featuring layered inserts, neon-lit trims and linings, and metallic embossing. They are Grace Kelly meets Catherine Deneuve in her kooky psychedelic stage (Fontanella cites the 1967 French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort as an influence) and, driven by Instagram, have quickly become a coveted it-girl accessory.
Crafted, under Fontanellas’ direction, over three days in a workshop in Ubrique, the epicenter of shoe and leather industry in Spain, prices for a Mietis bag range between 300 to 500 euros. “The woman that buys a Mietis bag likes to be seen as different and values quality and design,” she continues.
She is cosmopolitan, likes to travel, and appreciates art. Most are between 30 and 50 years old, though we also have younger clients, particularly Asian ones.
Perhaps then, the Espai Mietis will evolve into a destination, drawing fashionista travellers away from the Passeig de Gràcia. Conceived as a showroom, future art gallery, and atelier where clients can have a capsule collection of rocker-style leather jackets customized, the space lives and breathes the colors, textures and cultural references that are inherent in Mietis. Bright, curvy chairs by the French company Moustache, an old worktable painted pistachio green, modular candles in gelato colors (“I saw them on Insta and fell in love,” she says) play with her products to conjure an atmosphere of chic eclecticism that is absolutely on- brand.
Mieti Studio: Carrer de la Ciutat de Granada, 62, 08005 Barcelona.