May 15, 2015

Best Private Showrooms in Buenos Aires

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Mars + Zorba Showroom - Leather Clutches

Some of the best things in BA can be found behind closed doors, be it dining, cocktails, art and even shopping. Over the last few years a large number of BA’s shopping scene has gone underground due to soaring rents for retail spaces. The trend for emerging designers and brands is to sell their collections by appointment only from the privacy of their apartment or a private studio space or workshop. For shoppers, it makes the whole experience a lot more personal and interesting as the designers themselves are there to greet you and provide insight into their work.

Here are some of our favorites:

Aire del Sur Showroom in Recoleta

Though the showroom is sequestered on the second floor, it is in fact open to retail customers. Prices are in dollars, and its wares are a very good value, considering the quality and design level. Huge trays made of Argentine silver abound; a trio of stacking tables covered in goat leather is set in frames that look like wood but are in fact iron; and then there’s that fox throw that would warm up the most austere ivory divan.
 
Silver and Alpaca Tray, Candle sticks made of silver and bamboo
 

To get to this heel oasis, named Comme Il Faut,  I have to turn into a small courtyard called Rue des Artisans, off Arenales, and walk up a flight of stairs; I then sit on a sofa in the tiny room while the shopkeeper brings forth box upon box of whatever is available in my size. On other visits, I have left with a pair of navy blue, black, red and fluorescent pink sling-backs and some fire-engine-red velvet pumps that were too Evita to pass up.

Black Silk tango shoe with silver leahter strap and silver heel- Comme il Faut

Casa Cavia: Delight your mind as well as your senses

Casa Cavia
An elegant historical residence from the early 1900s, restored and renovated by based in London firm Kallos Turin, has now become Casa Cavia. Discover a place where the noble pleasures converge and mingle, inviting you to explore the most exceptional experiences. Books, flowers, perfumes, and a kitchen where fresh, seasonal products are transformed into simple yet sophisticated dishes. From appetizers to pâtisserie, edible works of art are yours for the tasting.

 


Fueguia

Strange, sexy, and sweet-smelling Fueguia is the visionary project of Julián Bedel, a perfumer who also runs a laboratory in Palermo. His unique perfumes are displayed on a long table in a narrow space swaddled in dark velvet, creating what must be the most dramatic retail space in the city. All perfumes use natural essences, such as cedar, vellum, and yerba leaves, and are named for Argentina’s greatest historical figures and most sublime landscapes.

 
Lizard Bags and Lizard clutches - Showroom in Recoleta

Ceremony
Identifying a need in the market for solid wardrobe basics designed to last, husband and wife Natalia Bellesi and Ariel Hakel, fashion designer and architect by trade respectively, decided to pool their skills and launch their own men’s and women’s clothing label, Ceremony, in July 2013. For them, the materials, production process and comfort factor are as important as the final look. Taking the less is more and quality over quantity approach, the limited edition pieces are all made from natural pima cotton and wool and include slouchy T-shirts, pants, blazers, shorts, dresses and yoga wear in a neutral colour palette. They receive clients by appointment only in an office space on the ground floor of their apartment building in Colegiales.

By appointment only, email tiendaceremony@gmail.com

Mars + Zorba Bags - Showrrom Buenos Aires


Mars + Zorba
Designer Consuelo Lough first launched her handbag brand Mars+Zorba half way through 2013 and started out selling online but has only recently joined the band of designers selling their collections from a private showroom. She’s just moved to a new space in Palermo Nuevo and has transformed a corner of her apartment into a handbag heaven. Every woman has a preference when it comes to handbags and her collection has got everyone covered, from the hobo bag to the cross body, clutch, shopping tote and backpack. All the leather (bar the patent stuff that comes from Italy) is made in Argentina and is vegetable tanned. Her designs are modern and edgy and each model is produced in limited numbers and a variety of colour combinations. She also has a line of edgy leather cuffs.

By appointment only, email contact@marsandzorba.com

Contemporary Coats made of llama wool and beautiful fabrics
 

Manto Abrigo’s
Manto Abrigos’ story starts in the north east of Argentina where the brand works with indigenous communities to manually spin and weave sheep and llama wool into beautiful fabrics, helping to keep the country’s artisan traditions alive. These fabrics are then sent to Buenos Aires and each coat is tailor made and embellished with prints or other textile effects by hand. The result is a collection of one-of-a-kind contemporary coats in a range of timeless styles. The socially responsible brand was originally founded by Argentine Clara de La Torre in 1996 and she now works alongside Diana Dai and Veronica Olavide in the production, design and marketing of the brand. A visit to their showroom and office space in Villa Crespo is an all-round experience.
 
Venture up in one of the building’s old-fashioned lifts into their bright, airy industrial-style showroom where you can browse their latest coat models (that are also available made to measure), see photographs of the production over a coffee, and chat to the passionate team about their work. While the artistic coats carry a high price tag, it reflects the labour and hours that has gone into making each one. The brand also crafts a line of bags made out of recycled and car and bicycle tires, some of which is spun into yarn, as well as a line of knitwear and blankets.

By appointment only, Darwin 1154, cuerpo D, 1A




The multi-faceted architect, jewellery designer and artist Celedonio Lohidoy has a unique eye for design and his showroom and workshop is the stuff of fairytales. Concealed behind closed doors on the quiet Uruguay street in Recoleta, you have to first ring the bell and venture down a narrow passageway that leads out unexpectedly into a central secret garden of lush green foliage.

Up a narrow staircase, his self-designed space is equally magical, done out in ornate furnishings with big wooden cabinets displaying his intricate artworks and eye-catching jewellery that twinkles in the natural light, crafted from semi-precious stones, pearls and crystals.

Uruguay 1223, buzzer 8
Recoleta

Our Personal Shopper Service is an insider’s shopping experience guided by a English-speaking personal interpreter who offers unlimited access to many of the fames showrooms and boutiques, including arranging after-hours access for the most customized experience.

Consider Hiring a Car and Driver

The daily rates for private cars are far lower than in most American cities, and you'll certainly be safer. Even if you don't use a driver, avoid taking random cabs off the street, as they may not be licensed.

 Note Weekends and National Holidays

With the exception of stores, most showrooms do not open on Saturdays and they are all closed on Sundays. Argentina has many national holidays, so consult a calendar before you book your flights. Contact us for more information or recommendations. We are glad to help!

April 27, 2015

Things to do in Buenos Aires: Neighborhood of La Boca

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Immigrants - Painting by Romulo Macció
La Boca is the oldest, most colorful, and most authentic neighborhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca is mostly a working-class neighborhood and it is known throughout the world as the home of Boca Juniors, one of South America’s top football clubs.

Mass settlement in La Boca began in 1840, with an influx of immigrants from Genoa, Italy. Coming from a port city, it was natural for the Genoese to settle along the Buenos Aires waterfront. The new arrivals constructed tenements made of scrap metal and painted the shacks with bright leftover paint to liven up the one-time wasteland. The Genoese proudly brought their unique identity to La Boca, and one of their old traditions was to paint the outside of their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard – as nothing else was available or could be afforded. Here are the main attractions:


La Usina del Arte

Symphony Concert Hall - La Usina del Arte
From factory to symphony

Dubbed “the new home of culture” by Mayor Mauricio Macri’s administration, the Usina del Arte, an abandoned red brick electric factory near the Riacheulo, has been scrubbed up and turned over to the arts.

And culture fans have plenty to be excited about: boasting Buenos Aires’ first symphony concert hall, music, art, dance and theatre are just some of the plans on the agenda for the centre, which will also be home to the Buenos Aires’ Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestras.

The complex is just between Puerto Madero and La Boca district. So it is possible that this space will work as a cultural corridor between the two and it will enhance the neighborhood.

The complex, designed by Juan Chiogna, was built between 1914 and 1916 by Martignone e Hijos and continued to produce electricity until the early-1990s. This was when Carlos Menem’s administration privatised utilities, and after its doors closed, the building was abandoned. From outside, the building is quite spectacular, standing out from its run-down surroundings. From the clock tower where the bell would be rung to call electricity workers in for their shifts, to the Romeo and Juliet-like balconies where orders would be called to workers in the front courtyard, each and every historical detail has been preserved.

Inside the grand, luminous entrance hall, many original parts of the building were also restored, such as the iron-cast staircases that wrap round the side areas of the structure as well as some of the old tiled flooring on the ground floor.

The Usina del Arte is currently not open on a daily basis to the public. However, from now until December, free guided tours are carried out on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, highly recommendable for those who have yet to visit the building. It will also be open for specific performances until the end of the year.

The Usina is open at specific times for concerts, for details check the CityGovernment’s culture website.*

The Museo del Cine, created in 1971, is now located in the building adjacent to the Usina on Caffarena 49. It is open from Monday to Friday 11am-6pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 10am-7pm.
 
 
 

El Obrero
Just across from La Usina del Arte, there is an old traditional restaurant where you can eat like a real “porteño”. You shouldn’t look for refined or exotic dishes but for plentiful and simple dishes of the porteño cuisine. This bar opened in 1954, used to feed workers who worked at shipyards and garages near it. Visit El Obrero for an authentic and memorable lunch. It is really worth it. Address: Agustín R. Caffarena 64.
 
La Boca Soccer Stadium
 
Visit the Legendary Boca Soccer Stadium and its Museum.

Boca Juniors is one of the biggest soccer teams in Argentina and happens to be one of the clubs that the soccer great Diego Maradona played for. Club Atlético Boca Juniors was founded in 1905, and has been known as the club for the working class. Their official nickname is Los Xeneizes (The Geonese after the Geonese Italians that founded the club).

Their stadium, La Bombonera, is not so surprisingly located in the La Boca barrio. It is possible to get tickets to most games and be a part of a truly Argentine experience.

Everything is intertwined and indivisible: not only is La Bombonera a part of a neighborhood which witnessed its creation but it also defines its identity. It was on this port suburb that football and Argentina were born.

Settled inside the football field building, this museum (with access through a gift shop with a wide variety of blue and yellow souvenirs) opens up through a long corridor where the pictures of all premier division players who have defended the T-shirt since 1931 are on display. This is how worship of the past begins.

At the end of the corridor, inside a huge football ball-shaped room, we could live the 360-degree experience of going into the football field and stepping on the lawn of La Bombonera in a unique spectacular audio-visual event.

Museo de la Pasión Boquense
Brandsen 805, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 11-43621100

Fine Arts Museum of La Boca

Once a residence and studio of the artist Quinquela Martin, this museum has a collection of early 20th century Argentine artists.Benito Quinquela Martin, an abandoned orphan who was adopted by a Genoese immigrant couple in La Boca, was the man to take action. He had become the most significant painter in Argentina, with his dramatic paintings of the port of La Boca, and achieved worldwide recognition.
 
But as La Boca was his inspiration, and had provided him with family, friends and shelter after having been orphaned at an early age, he felt he owed the barrio something in return. Quinquela Martín is considered the port painter and one of the country’s most popular painters. His paintings show port activity, vigor and harshness of daily life in La Boca port. He had to work as a child carrying bags of coal and these experiences influenced his artistic vision obras.


The permanent exibit consists of works of figurative Argentine artists from the late nineteenth century to today. Also includes a collection of figureheads, unique in Latin America, represented by interesting pieces from the late nineteenth century. In the room Sivori, temporary exhibitions of great masters of Argentine art, renowned contemporary artists and emerging artists perform; linking heritage with contemporary production works. The third floor is currently the House – Museum Quinquela where his great works and personal belongings are exhibited.

Museum of Fine Arts Quinquela: Av. Pedro de Mendoza 1835/1843.
Tuesdays - Fridays; From: 10 am to 18 pm, and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 11 to 18 hs. Closed on Mondays.

Tango Dancers - Caminito  Street

Quinquela Martin, the creator of “caminito” street

In 1959, Quinquela Martin and his artist friends created the street of Caminito, as a means of recreating the way old La Boca used to look – a reminder of where everyone had come from, not just in La Boca, but Buenos Aires, and Argentina, because this barrio and its port had been the gateway for many immigrants into this city and country (up until Puerto Madero & then Puerto Nuevo were built as replacements in the early 1900s), who then went on to make Buenos Aires and Argentina what they are today.
 
 
What Quinquela Martin did was to rescue bits and pieces of the original immigrant conventillos that were being torn down and replaced, and used them to create a concentrated conventillo community around this small street, in what is essentially an uninhabited open-air art and history exhibit, and officially the world’s first outdoor pedestrian museum. There are also Tango dancers in the street and you can pose with them and just give them ten to twenty pesos. . Many artists also show off their work on the sides of the main street.
 
Staircase at PROA
 
Proa

Once you tire of the fútbol at La Bombonera and of the Maradona impersonators at Caminito you can head over to Fundación Proa at Pedro de Mendoza 1929. It’s an excellent modern and contemporary art museum that hosts international art exhibitions and has a gourmet café with river views on the third floor. It’s open from 11am to 8pm, Tuesday to Sunday.

Handcraft market

If you visit Caminito on weekends, you will also be able to go shopping at the Feria de la Ribera arts and crafts market, which starts at the front of Caminito and goes around in front of the Riachuelo river. Here you will find handmade crochet,scarves and shawls, traditional mate gourds and bombillas (the metal straws used for drinking mate), jewellery and lots of other interesting craft pieces, all at reasonable prices.


And if you work up a hunger after traipsing around Caminito and the feria, we strongly recommend an authentic Italian Pizzeria nearby in La Boca Banchero Pizzeria (Suarez 396 ). The restaurant also happens to have been a favorite of Benito Quinquela Martin, the architect of Caminito, so it is a fitting end to the outing – and delicious too!
 
Historical Bridges in La Boca - View from Caminito
 
Safety in La Boca

As in most places where a popular tourist attraction sits in the middle of an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, La Boca can be dangerous for visitors who stray off the tourist path.