b-guided > Barcelona

Out of Africa

Babbazar

By B. Gallagher / Photos: Carolina Vargas 09.09.14

The flourishing economies of many African countries is being jealously observed from the rather stagnant perspective of old work Europe right now. Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa and Nigeria are among the countries whose economies are growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world right now and experts are predicting a similar phenomenon in Africa that occurred in China and more recently India. The evolving indigenous African crafts and design sector is catering to both an emerging middle class and a curious world outside the ‘Dark Continent’ that is increasingly waking up to this sleeping behemoth.

Babbazzar is a new design showroom and gallery located in the Borne area of Barcelona which specialises in all things African. This unique project is a very personal one directed by French national Jean Louis Montilla who divides his time between Morocco and Barcelona and has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to uncovering African art, craft and design. Every piece is personally sourced by Montilla, every item has a life story behind it reflecting a rich tradition of creation from exotic places like Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Chad and the Congo. Places that we may only have come into our consciousness for other less positive reasons but which nonetheless can boast a centuries old sensibility of their own in terms of art and design.

  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar

     

    The space that accommodates Babbazar is an old warehouse, adjacent to the old Borne Market now converted into a cultural centre, with high ceilings and generous storage basement. The sparsely decorated interior with metal plate floor and sepia colour scheme is packed with photographs, art works, decorative objects, carpets, furniture, fabrics, ceramics and lamps reflecting the current state of contemporary African crafts. Sourced from sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean periphery these objects are extraordinary in their diversity and exoticness especially in comparison to the throw-away aesthetic and familiarity of many design products currently available. These pieces are designed to last, solid in their construction using natural materials often made by hand. Babbazar offers a practical alternative to the inevitable Ikeaisation of our home environments, perfectly displaying a design tradition that is both intriguing and compelling. And one that is worth keeping an eye on as the world gradually begins to recognise its potential.

  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar
  • Babbazar

     

    Shop manager Sergio is on hand for customer enquiries and giving advice. Stock is regularly updated so its advisable to pay regular visits.