Capital city, seat of the government, residence of the Spanish monarch – Madrid carries all its titles with elan. The royal buildings, churches, museums, plazas and parks scattered through the city ensure that the link to its heritage is not lost amidst the modern infrastructure and development.
Madrid’s location in the heart of Spain affords it a continental type of climate. Summers and winters are extreme with frost and snow being common at the peak of winter. While rain may play the occasional spoilsport during spring and autumn, the mild temperatures at these times make it the best time to visit the city.
The Golden Triangle of Art, formed by the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the museum of Modern Art, attracts visitors from across the globe. But the city in itself is an outdoor musuem with art and sculpture spanning centuries dotting its streets and parks. One of the largest cities in Europe, Madrid has seamlessly integrated its past and present.
A Design Spectrum
A burst of rainbow colours stands against the blue Madrid sky, the façade of the Hotel Silken Puerta America heralds the innovative design concept that the hotel is planned on. Nineteen of the top architects/studios have been brought together for this one project.
The thought behind the concept was to provide each of the designers a space that they could make their own; a space which would reflect their personalitiies or their cultures or their interpretation of design and architecture.
Every space is evidence enough of the magic that can originate from the freedom of expression and creativity, starting with the parking lot itself. The usual drab grey gives way to vibrant yellow, oranges and reds and functional graphics double up as wall art.
The lobby is a picture of serenity and elegance in wood and white while the use of black and white and marble in the restaurant lends it a chic air. Each of the twelve floors is designed in an exclusive theme which extends from the corridors into the guest rooms.
Sinuous lines and fluid spaces take over the first floor while the fourth floor is futuristic with its geometrical designs. The fifth floor plays homage to fashion and the tenth to Japanese tradition and while the sixth floor is bold in crimson, white and play of light come together on the eighth to create a dream-like ambience. The unusual concept of the Silken Puerta America translates into a stunning showcase of avant-garde design.
Tucked away in the hip Salesians neighbourhood of the city, Dray Martina is one of those cafes that warrant lingering much after the last cake crumb has been brushed off. Daylight flows in through the large windows and further brightens up the wood and white interior.
Innovative light fixtures from cane baskets to glowing yellow orbs, a wall mosaiced with wooden boards demand attention away from coffee and conversation. The furniture is an eclectic mix of cane chairs, marble tops and even the odd one upholstered in vintage floral patterns. The creative team manages to create a charming vibe by pulling together an assortment of materials within this one space.
The Design Express
Hundreds rush through the Chamartin Station of Madrid every day on the way to their destination, but a couple of times a year the station becomes the destination when it hosts the Nomada Market in its attic. The market was established in 2005 to serve as a platform for emerging designers to showcase their creations.
In the last 10 years it has transformed into one of the most important independent design fairs of Spain. Each edition centres on a theme and anything and everything in design – art, craft, fashion, jewellery find a spot here. It also hosts workshops, talks and film screenings. It provides a unique space for new designers to promote their creations and test the market and for the visitor it is an opportunity to shop for one-of-a-kind products.
The Royal Residence
Built on the site of a 9th century fortress after it was destroyed in a fire in the 16th century, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest royal residence in Western Europe. While the ornate exteriors and landscaped gardens create a majestic first impression, the real treasures are those that lie within. Each of the 3000 plus rooms in the palace exudes its own distinct style and the palace holds an exhaustive collection of paintings, ceramics, tapestries, furniture, frescos and other works of art by Spanish masters.
Text By Himali Kothari