Discovering the full cultural, festive, culinary, musical and leisure offer in Barcelona each weekend is practically impossible. There’s just not time. Or maybe there is… because there’s a significant sample of the city’s emerging talent on view the first weekend of each month at Palo Alto Market. Just schedule your visit at that time and you’ll be right up to date about what’s cooking in the city.
This platform for the creative industry has been developing for almost three years now, during which it has attracted more than 4,000 exhibitors, 280,000 visitors and 150 musical bands. “What distinguishes Palo Alto from other similar markets is that, above all, this is a party where we celebrate emerging talent, the work of young artists, and a new way of approaching business, by way of leisure,” says Paula Mariscal, who is in charge of strategy and sponsoring.
The first key to the success of Palo Alto is its location, an old textile factory in the Poble Nou district that has been converted into a lush oasis. The second, some special criteria for selecting the exhibitors: beside making the event a platform for emerging talent, the aim is to pay close attention to new trends, to what people want now, and to generating new consumer habits. “In the 80s, the important thing about design was the way it solved a problem,” says Mariscal.
“Right now what people are interested in are the stories that are behind this, and that’s why we want the applications we approve to have an environmental, social, cultural and, of course, artistic value.”
The aim is for repeat visitors to find brands that are only sold at Palo Alto and to discover something new with each visit. That’s why, although some exhibitors have almost assured their place in the event, there’s always room for innovation and surprise. Because from among the 400 applications that the Palo Alto team receives each month, there is only room for 130 exhibitors.
The organisers are intent on assuring the quality of the products that are sold at Palo Alto. There’s a clear preference for a local product, with absolutely nothing “made in China”. “We want to charge a fair price for things. It’s not a case of paying 1,000 euros for a handbag just because of the brand, but of paying 150 or 200 euros because the leather and the design are worth it,” Paula Mariscal stresses.
That’s also why there are no products for five or 10 euros on sale here, and the minimum price is 20 euros; the average price of the most popular items is in the 80 to 100 euro range. In the end, everything has a place at Palo Alto. “If you begin to buy these kinds of products, you soon realise that the garments last longer, so you end up buying less and spending less.” In other words, sustainable consumption that has little to do with the aims of the big chains selling cheap clothes of dubious quality made in China.
The icing on the cake, the most fun part, comes from the food and the music. A careful selection of food trucks and gourmet offerings make for a wide variety of dishes for all tastes. There is also space for cooking workshops and there have even been special editions dedicated to the world of food, such as the Exquisite market, which attracted famous restaurants and chefs like Rafa Zafra, Sergi de Meià and Rafael Piqueras.
The three settings attest to the growing importance of music during the three years of Palo Alto Market. The market has also become a platform for young artists like Pavvla, who gave her first concert here and who this year is in festivals like Primavera Sound; The Crab Apples, who this year opened for The Beach Boys at the Pedralbes Festival; Marina Herlop, who has been signed by James Rhodes’ record label, or Noia (alter ego of Gisela Fullà-Silvestre).
“Performers of the stature of Raynald Colom and Carlitos Sarduy have contributed to a soundtrack for Palo Alto Market, as have local groups like El Último Vecino or Extraperlo, who also wanted to be a part of this event, and not just for the money,” says communications officer Laura Llamas.
But the most important thing for the Palo Alto organisers is that this market is a magical meeting point, where the commercial part blends with what’s fun and happy, where there’s a joy for living, where you can breathe the Mediterranean, where the Mariscal family has left its mark in the form of a colourful splash, and where “Made in Barcelona” flows spontaneously, in an oasis in the heart of the city.