Buenos Aires by Appointment: Shopping South America's Most Inspiring Showroom Scene
In many of the world's design hubs, scoring a special souvenir is as easy as a walk in a trendy neighborhood. The dreamy travel loot almost finds you. In Buenos Aires? You'll probably want an appointment. Some of the most beautiful, original things that will fit in a suitcase can be found in garden apartments, private workshops, and second-floor ateliers. It's a bit intimidating, even for the savviest cool-hunter. To help you get straight to the source, we've scouted three of the most inspiring shoppable showrooms in town. There are many, many more, so if you're looking for the ultimate retail tipster? Damasia, Mayu, or Sophie can unlock all of the right doors.
1. Arde Cerámica
We first laid eyes on Leila Córdoba and Ariel Walter's knockout turquoise stoneware at Palermo panadería La Alacena. Within hours of finishing our chocolate tart, we were kneeling on the floor of Leila's apartment-showroom, drooling over handmade teapots, bowls, vases, and dinner plates. For the duo behind Arde, whose restaurant accounts include the likes of i Latina and La Mar Cebichería, ceramics is not merely a livelihood, but a way of life. Raw materials are entirely hand-wrought, from the clay, which they've been known to mix in a recycled kiddie pool, to those gorgeous glazes and even the purpose-built wood-fired kiln, itself.
Breakout accessories designer Josefina Romero uses Argentine heritage materials (premium leather, precious metals) and ancestral techniques (silversmithing, basketry) to decidedly modern effect. Case in point: calf hair alpargatas with hand-sewn jute soles—the most luxurious we've come across—and chic linen button-downs with mismatched buffalo horn cufflinks (yes, we are officially obsessed with cufflinks). While select pieces are on view at the inimitable Panorama, Romero's studio guests can shop her full line of drawstring hobos, roomy totes, and mini crossbody shoulder bags.
Romero; Bulnes 2705, Palermo Bótanico
After working in high-profile European fashion houses for many years, Franco-Argentine designer María Zolezzi returned to Buenos Aires to found a runway-worthy label of her own. Her knitwear collection, produced in partnership with a team of local legacy weavers, features capelets, cropped sweaters, cozy oversized cardigans, and a whimsical pompom bag that's the sartorial equivalent of a cumulus cloud—all made with Patagonian merino wool or camelid fibers from Jujuy (and native plant-based dyes, naturally). Maydi's unisex wraps and hats can be found at top Palermo boutiques like Paul Deco and Patrón, but insiders seek out her atelier, where the designer takes orders for made-to-measure pieces.
Maydi; Ortega y Gasset 1575, Las Cañitas