M2Malletier & ‘La Fabrica’
M2Malletier bags are strong. They’re characterised by geometric shapes and definite lines, bold blocks of colour and, perhaps most significantly, distinctive barlike hardware designed by Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcelea Valez. The space – and only space – in which the signature handbags are designed is even more so. M2Malletier’s studio is housed in ‘La Fabrica’, a postmodern masterpiece – a statement in futuristic design and incredible engineering crafted by Ricardo Bofill (father of Losada’s husband, Pablo), widely considered one of Europe’s seminal postmodernists.
Known as perhaps his signature architectural achievement, La Fabrica was originally a concrete factory and was renovated by Bofill in the 1970s to house his family and his international architectural practice, ‘Taller de Arquitectura’. In line with his other public works, such the Barcelona Airport’s Terminal 1 and various hotels of stunning magnitude including the Costes K in Paris, La Fabrica’s 32,000-square-foot space is dramatic, brutal and romantic, quite arresting on the whole.
As a start, it’s the copious amounts of concrete that grab your attention – an industrial material that is strong in every sense of the word. Then there are thee ceilings, reaching 30 feet in some places and creating the most generous of spaces to wander through, almost overpowering if one were to be alone in them. There are also windows inspired by ancient roman arches dotted everywhere, allowing light to stream into the rooms and land on the walls, and from the exterior punctuate the raw concrete façade. Around the building are giant spouts which once poured concrete, giving the structure its extraterrestrial feel, ivy now sprouting from the cracks that add to the surrealist tone.
The space isn’t all hard brutalist lines though. Inside, and in the corner in which M2Malletier have their studio, the building brutalist concrete lines are softened by luxurious fabrics, accessories and furniture – a white lounge sits on dusty blue carpet, there are plants and books, paintings and warm wood. The most dreamy addition though has to be the curtains, billowing ivory floor-to-ceiling sheets of fabric that give the space a mystical kind of charm against the strength of the architecture.
As a setting for the handbag studio it’s perfect too – the combination of architectural and historic references and minimalist design fitting well with the pair behind M2Malletier, Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcelea Valez, whose design aesthetic is structured and simple, calling on the past as well as looking to the future. “We were inspired for our hardware by strong, basic things as well — industrial shapes, medical instruments and medieval tools,” says Losada Bofill, “and we are also very serious about engineering and balance.” But not only is working amid Brutalist grandeur on such scale “inspiring and a bit extraterrestrial” for the pair now, but it helped inform the entire brand. ‘‘Every bag I have ever designed has been sketched at La Fabrica,’’ says Losada Bofill. ‘‘Even before we had a formal company, wandering around this place made me want to create.’’
In the end, it’s a beautiful story that goes full circle, where history and architecture, family and fashion merge, and the magical La Fabrica is the glue that holds it together.