A good two years ago, iXtenso discovered a gem in Barcelona, a store the likes of which are very rare: The candle store Subirà is located in a historic building from the 19th century and inevitably captivates its many visitors.
Both the products and the store are well worth seeing. We'd love to take you on a little tour of the store and its history.
Beautiful, warm, ephemeral – candles and their production
Before the introduction of electric light, the production and trade of candles was one of the most important industries. In 1761 a candle factory was founded in Barcelona, which still exists today. In 1939, after the Spanish Civil War, the candle maker Pauli Subirà took over the company, which today is run by his granddaughter and, according to her, is the largest producer of candles in Catalonia, perhaps even in Spain.
In the salesroom in the old town of Barcelona, in the Baixada de la Llibreteria 7, candles may no longer be made for safety reasons, working with fire and wax is not allowed in the city. However, employees there demonstrate how the wick is rolled into the beeswax plates.
We talked to the manager, Pilar Subirà, about candle production.
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Store design from another time
The store in the old town of Barcelona is a magnet for visitors – at least when there is no COVID pandemic. It can definitely be counted as one of the sights in the beautiful Catalan capital.
A staircase leads up two sides of the main room to an open, narrow gallery. To the right and left at the foot of the stairs, two dark female figures stand on the landings of the banister, each holding a lamp above their head. In French, the figures are called "Les Négresses", in Englisch "negro women" or "black women". They were not just for decoration, but used to house gas lamps for lighting. According to Pilar Subirà, a French company installed the gas system in Barcelona in the mid-19th century and brought their lamp models to the city. Meanwhile, the lamps are powered by electricity.
The cabinets and shelves, the drawers and doors, the staircase and the balustrade of the gallery, the tables and the cash desk: all the original furniture from back then has been preserved and maintained. Pilar Subirà herself says that the store still benefits today from the stroke of genius of previous managers who kept the store as it was, even if beauty and tradition take precedence over usefulness and practicality.
With tradition to long-lasting success
Thanks to this extraordinary store design, the PR for Cereria Subirà practically takes care of itself.
The candles that the company Subirà produces, they sell all over the world. And they themselves also sell candles from other producers in their store. „Our goal is that everybody that enters the shop finds the candle, he or she needs.“