Fernando Amat

SPAIN (1941)
Fernando Amat is a Barcelona architect who, from 1968 to 2015, owned and managed Vinçon, a visionary household goods, personal accessories and home furnishings store with two outlets, the original in Barcelona and another in Madrid. What made Vincon unique is that while the breadth of wares was great-ranging – from home furnishings to infant products and garden equipment – the items were carefully selected and inventively showcased. Vinçon was often compared to the Terence Conran shop in New York City, the similarity being merchandise that ranged from inexpensive to high-end, a shrewd business strategy that drew people into the store. Amat fostered a casual environment where shoppers felt free to browse; food was welcome, as were dogs. Walking into Vinçon was akin to entering a showroom displaying Amat’s personal collection, and over time, the store catered to an increasingly sophisticated clientele.

The Barcelona store, which Amat and his brother acquired from their father in 1968, also housed La Sala Vinçon, a nonprofit exhibition and performance space for art and design. The original sala at Paseo de Gracia 96 sold the work of Catalan painters in the 1940s. The Amat sons resurrected the former gallery and modeled it on Gres, one of the first design-led shops in Barcelona to sell simple, functional, craft-influenced pieces and exhibit them with paintings and sculpture. With Amat as curator, La Sala Vinçon was instrumental in establishing and reinforcing the link between Vinçon and the Spanish avant-garde design community. Javier Mariscal got his start exhibiting there; the work of Jorge Pensi and Alberto Lievore of Grupo Berenguer, and of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca of Studio Per (co-founder of b.d Ediciones de Diseno, a furniture manufacturer specializing in Modernist masters and contemporary local designers), was also showcased at Vinçon.

Amat also designed the first Camper shoe store, in Barcelona, in 1981. His continued collaboration with the stylish brand includes the boutique hotel Casa Camper, opened in 2005 in the trendy El Raval pedestrian neighborhood in Barcelona.