It’s been more than a rocky few years for Spain. When the global economy collapsed in 2008, Spain suddenly was suffering from Depression-era levels of unemployment and an economy melting down. Some say that this same crisis - or at least the resulting youth unemployment – would trigger creativity and entrepreneurship.
Lately a few webshops have opened, that might proof that this last claim is true. While most e–commerce website pride themselves on the popular brands they sell, these websites clearly choose a different strategy, offering consumers an alternative for the world dictated by Ikea and Zara. Let’s have a look at a few examples from various parts of the country:
Although Hipskai is an e-commerce website in the traditional sense of the word, the difference with other shops is that you will not find your Mango, Gucci and Hugo Boss in here. Hipskai prides itself in offering a selection of young and hip Spanish-only designers, from new brands like Palens (selling Wooden sunglasses) , Musaventura (Watches made with Swarovski elements) and Weareknitters ( knit trendy design yourself kits)
Barcelona based Hipskai successfully mixes national pride and entrepreneurship with a Catalonian sense for Fashion.
Let’s look at two other Spanish websites that take the creative spirit al little further
There’s Furnit-u from the capital Madrid. The idea behind Funit-U is that some people might have a good idea about what a good piece of furniture should look like, whereas others might have the capabilities of putting a piece of furniture together.
For that reason anyone can submit a design on Furnit-U. You either have it directly produced by one of the craftsmen that are on Furnit-U, or you have it voted by the public in a popularity contest. Most popular designs –that are also checked on feasibility- will be up for mass production.
Furnit-u is still in beta and not that many designs are offered publicly yet, The idea is nice though and it could become a step stone for young designers and artisans.
Estampable.com from the southern region of Andalusia, seems to do everything right. First of all you can tell that these people love design just by looking at their website: a set of nicely displayed home accessories will give you the idea you have reached a top notch webshop.
Through the website anyone can buy cushions, wallpaper, puffs, posters and pictures from various artists, customized to their specific wishes.
Estampable's philosophy is to provide people options to decorate their home with beautiful custom made design not proceeding from mass production. As they say themselves: "democratizar la decoración" (democratizing decoration).
They work together with designers, illustrators and photographers to who they offer a platform to sell their work. Results of their sales are reported in their personal dashboard, from where they can upload new designs as manage their account.
Estampable does not only seem to do well to their clients, but also to the people they work with.
The examples above might show that Spain is having it's creative and entrepreneurial boom indeed. The crowdsourcing element might offer an advantage of its own: by letting people choose the product they want to have manufactured, inefficiency by overproduction and inherent overpricing can be avoided. For the producing company it means less uncertainty, which is clearly beneficial for any small company.
On the other hand, one could argue that by working like this, no true economies of scale can be made, the way large producing companies have, significantly lowering the price per unit.
So, in the end, we don’t expect websites like this to be a true competitor for the Ikeas of the world. But for a group of people, tired of uniform design and willing to pay just a few euro's more, this could just be it!
So we would like to encourage Spain to move ahead: ¡Viva la democracía!