Designers’ Gallery in Bilbao: Bilbao’s underrated gallery full of designers that looks like ‘a town square’

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Josetxu and Fernando got to know the century-old food market on Fernández del Campo street as children. “Meat, fish, bread were sold… you know, like everyone else’s,” they recall. Decades later, fate brought them back to this hidden gallery still unknown to many people. Josetxu is “the resistance”, since his fruit and vegetable stall is the only one to offer food. The market, which has nothing to envy to the popular ones, has taken a 380 degree turn. Today, the products that supplied the neighborhood have been replaced by antique furniture, signature hats, ceramic pieces or wooden sculptures. “Most are creative businesses,” says Borja Elorza, Jon Marín’s partner from the communications agency CiF, based in one of the premises. These ingenious minds now form a beautiful family which is completed with Miguel, the doorman who has kept the premises for 29 years. “He is the soul of the gallery,” they joke.

The communication agency CiF: “It is a space with the typical charm of European cities”

Borja Elorza and Jon Marín, partners and founders of the communication agency CiF. /

Maika Salguero

Borja Elorza and Jon Marín, partners and founders of the communication agency CiF, discovered the gallery thanks to Begoña Echevarría, client, friend and owner of the Galería 8360 store, now located at number 23 Fernández del Campo street. “It felt like a space with the typical charm of European cities like Amsterdam or Berlin,” she says. The “covered terrace”, as they call the space, has hosted parties and presentations: “The place is very versatile. The outside door of the 20s is closed, which is beautiful, we fill the pile with beers and put on a DJ, ”they say. In fact, when we entered the “new normal”, Borja and Jon wanted to show that events could go on safely and organized the presentation of the new collection by Borja Hernández, a competitor of “Maestros de la Costura “. “The gallery appears to us as a meeting point, we want to act as a tractor so that the neighborhood brings interesting creative projects”, they say.

Isabel’s decoration workshop: full of antiques and curious objects

Isabel with her antiques. /

Maika Salguero

Isabel’s interior design studio was one of the first creative companies to enter the gallery twelve years ago. “I think only Josetxu was there,” she said. This Vitorian, who has lived in Bilbao since she was young – “I came to study Fine Arts and I never came back” – changed the location of her shop in García Salazar street for this unique space, motivated by her “intimacy and magic of her” from her. “It was perfect because my studio has no opening hours. Sometimes I close to devote myself to my decoration projects and travel”, specifies t Today her antiques and curious objects have a special place in this characteristic place: “My selection is very personal. I favor washed furniture and popular objects taken out of context. Friends of the gallery, you can’t complain: “It looks like the town square.”

María Loizaga: “Each time he passed, he said: ‘How beautiful is the gallery!

María Loizaga, with her furniture. /

Maika Salguero

María Loizaga passed through the Fernández del Campo gallery from Monday to Friday to join her former studio, located in a shared space on Calle Costa. “Each time she passed, she said: ‘How beautiful the gallery is!’ At that time, there were only Josetxu and Isabel,” she says. By chance in her life, she met the son of the owner of one of the bars in a nearby bar. “I asked him if there was a possibility of buying it, but he told me that his father did not want to sell it for anything in the world”, she says. But last year, Maria received a call from this man: “She told me that her father had died of covid and asked me if he wanted the premises. I didn’t think twice!” From her coveted creative corner, she now offers decorators and architects cabinet doors, chairs, parquet floors and mirrors. “This morning we laughed because it looked like San Genaro , the neighborhood of the ‘Cuéntame’ series, we all know each other. It’s a joy, because you’re always entertaining, I’m happier every day”.

Cristina Peraile’s ceramic workshop

Cristina Peraile with her ceramic pieces. /

Maika Salguero

The case of Cristina Peraile can be called: love at first sight. “She was looking for a place until I saw this one. It was very easy to visualize! “, she admits. In May 2021, the 31-year-old established her ceramic studio in the gallery space, where she makes and sells her pieces. “I also give lessons,” adds Cristina, who can boast of occupying the largest studio in the gallery.

Angel Amor’s hat shop

Gabriel Azkoitia, friend of hat designer Ángel Amor. /

Maika Salguero

Today, it is not the designer of hats and headdresses Ángel Amor, who has dressed the heads of actresses such as Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz or Cate Blanchett, who welcomes us to his premises in the Fernández del Campo gallery. In his place, his friend Gabriel Azkoitia: “I found the place for him. I like old galleries to come to life and that’s what happened. It’s a shame that more people don’t know about it,” he laments. For some months now, Ángel Amor has been fashioning his props and costumes – the last for a play with Igor Yebra – in this characteristic place. He receives his clients by appointment and, in addition, organizes thematic workshops.

Fernando’s workshop: “When it rains I don’t come anymore”

Fernando Zabala with one of his wooden sculptures. /

Maika Salguero

Fernando Zabala returned to the Fernández del Campo gallery three months ago. “I met her as a child, but then I went to live in Donosti and lost track of her,” he says. Now that I have definitely returned to Bilbao, he found in one of his premises the ideal place for his woodcarving workshop: “I loved the tranquility, the space and the security”. He took his first steps in 1963, when he was given his sculpting tools. “Between getting married and having children, I left him,” he says. Now retired, he devotes himself to this passion without haste or schedule. “If it’s bad, I don’t come anymore, otherwise I go to the mountains,” he says smiling. His wooden sculptures, worthy of being exhibited in museums, do not sell: “I do it for fun, if I find a charitable soul when I finish them, I give them to take them home “.

Josetxu, a trader who builds miniature boats at his greengrocer

Josetxu at his greengrocer. /

Maika Salguero

Josetxu, better known as “the resistance” by his fellow gallery owners, lifted the shutters of his fruit store 40 years ago. “Things have changed a lot. Before, people from the neighborhood used to buy here, but now many prefer to go to a big supermarket. For those of us who are of age, we have no choice but to endure,” he says. His shop, the only one currently offering food and keeping the essence of the food market alive, is surrounded by businesses brimming with creativity. But Josetxu does not lack skill with his hands and brushes. Indeed, when he has no customers, he builds boats by mutual agreement. “You have to take advantage of the time,” he says. His latest build, to which he even added the Athletic Shield, takes over a year to complete. Of course, to create his pieces, he uses the wooden crates of fruit: “Everything is recycled here.”

Center aesthetic de Mila: “With the colleagues of the gallery, there is a lot of trust”

Mila poses in her beauty salon. /

MAIKA SALGUERO

The window of Mila’s aesthetic center overlooks Fernández del Campo street, but the back door of the shop overlooks the gallery: “I’ve been here for ten years. He agrees to emphasize that Miguel, the goalkeeper, is “the soul of the place” and that with his teammates “there is a lot of confidence”: “Do you believe yourself? They were knocking on the door for me to take a photo for this report.

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