Irish print designer Lia Quigley, whose ethically designed products are hand made in her studio in Madrid where she lives, shares her favourite places in the Spanish capital
I’ve lived in Madrid a little over four years now. My home is right beside Parque del Oeste, one of the city’s hidden gems. My husband and I moved here because of the climate as I have a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia and the dry, warm weather really helps my symptoms.
I have been lucky to find a studio space in Lavapies, from where I create my collections for Made Obvious. I studied Printed Textile Design at NCAD, then moved to London for five years where I worked for a range of brands including Burberry, Principles and Dorothy Perkins. I then returned to Dublin where I worked as a print designer for the fashion manufacturer Styletex. In 2014 I went freelance and sold my designs through an agent in London until 2020 when I launched Made Obvious.
I have started working with a local farmer from whom I have sourced wool from to make the Mara and Cleo bags. The El Navazo family farm in Segovia, owned by Angélica and Juan Antonio, have the support of the National Association of Castilian Sheep Breeders. The wool is produced without aggressive chemical processes such as bleaching that can damage the fibres. I used solid “granny squares” to create the bags, which are seasonless and timeless.
I’ve also been working on the Made Obvious bag (pictured), inspired by the traditional Japanese Furoshiki wrapping cloth. This bag is made from a single piece of square fabric tied into a wooden magnetic handle. The handle can be used with as many different types of fabric as you like, an ever-changing bag for life [from €18.50 – €177].
While Madrid is a huge city, it is so relaxed, and these are some of my favourite places.
Where to Stay:
Only You Hotel Atocha
The highlight of this hotel is its rooftop restaurant, where breakfast is served, offering lovely views of the centre of Madrid. It has a clubby, Art Deco vibe and a design highlight is an undulating bookcase in the lobby, where there are lots of squashy leather armchairs for lounging. The hotel is also right beside Retiro Park which is a must visit when coming to the city, and right by Atocha station if you want to travel on to anywhere else in Spain. The Prado Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums are about a 15 -minute walk from the hotel as well as the lesser known but also fascinating Royal Tapestry Factory; www.onlyyouhotels.com
Located on one of the most exclusive streets in the chic Salamanca district, if you are looking for a boutique hotel close to shops this is the place. It’s very modern and airy, yet small and intimate with a cosy cocktail bar; breakfast is served in its quiet courtyard. Gourmets will appreciate the Ramon Freixa restaurant in the hotel, which has two Michelin stars and offers tasting menus (from between 20 – 25 courses!), and a very posh Sunday brunch; www.unicohotelmadrid.com
What to see:
Museo del Traje
Located in a sleek modern building slightly outside of the centre, The Garment Museum houses a huge collection of Spanish fashion and traditional costumes. It also has a lovely outdoor restaurant that is worth a visit; www.esmadrid.com
A small museum by Madrid standards, hidden away, it has a beautiful garden which offers a calming break from the heat and busy streets. Housing numerous artworks from the impressionist artist Sorolla, who was known as “the master of light”, he had a reputation for painting beach scenes en plein air. The great loves of his life were his home city of Valencia and his wife Clothilde, his muse, to whom he would write everyday often sending flowers inside the letters; www.esmadrid.com
Casa de Campo
Even though this is technically a city park, it feels like the countryside. It’s huge, so if you can hire a bike it’s probably the best way to see it. Its attractions include the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium, an amusement park, a renovated lake lined with restaurant and a cable car that connects Casa de Campo and Oeste Park, which can take you to the city centre; www.esmadrid.com
A haven of a garden near the well-known Prado museum! For a small fee you can visit the gardens which are beautifully maintained and afterwards enjoy a coffee surrounded by lush plant life and birdsong. Declared an Artistic Garden in 1942, its collections include an outstanding herbarium with more than a million entries, the library and the archive – with nearly 10,000 drawings – as well as the exhibition of 5,000 species of live plants. One of my all-time favourite places in Madrid.
Where to Shop:
A lovely little plant shop which offers a selection of tropical plants. Elena, the owner also runs workshops so you can learn how to look after them; www.planthae.com
This is my ideal shop, half florist, half clothing, they have an wonderful selection of dried flowers and stock local designers’ collections too; www.adhocflores.com
A bright and fun concept store in Malasaña district full of items for the home and a great selection of gifts; www.elmoderno.es
Where to eat:
Café del Rey
We aren’t near the sea here in Madrid but Cafe del Rey is the next best thing. This outdoor bar has real sand, palm trees and a lovely relaxed vibe – it’s great for any time of day; www.cafedelregy.es
Pan Y Pepinnillos Café
I love this little independent cafe in the heart of Malasaña. The decor is so beautiful, it has great coffee, and it also show cases local artisans’ work; @panypepinilloscafe