Embaixada is as of today Lisbon’s most recent lifestyle venture. Located in a 19 century palace in new-Arabian style this new retail project rests on an innovative concept in the Portuguese capital, accommodating a range of shops focused on Portuguese products and others backed by national entrepreneurs. Located in a privileged location, two days before the opening we give you what promises to become a new meeting place in the city.
Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha is one of the most iconic buildings in the affluent and groovy neighborhood of Principe Real. Built by a man who made his fortune in Brazil this building has had different tenants over the years, haing been bought by Eastbanc around four years ago. The operation falls within the Principe Real Project, started by Eastbanc Portugal, a subsidiary of Eastbanc Inc., that has bought so far 20 buildings in the area, totaling a € 50 million investment to date. With a strong focus on the preservation of the architectural heritage, one of the key areas of intervention of those in charge of this urban project is the provision of commercial space for retailers with differentiated projects.
Alexandra Moura, Lidija Kolovrat, Nuno Gama and Ricardo Preto are some of the Lisbon-based designers who have rented retail space to Eastbanc south and north of Embaixada, the new project in this palace, accommodating retail spaces for more than 15 mainly Portuguese brands. The initial idea was to open a hotel here, designed by Portuguese star architect Souto Moura. The project was halted, but will be retaken at some point and the current shops in the building will establish a lively dialogue with the future hotel. Dialogue and community are some of the key aspects of this operation and highlighted by Anthony Lanier, president of real estate empire Eastbanc, the man behind the renovation of this part of town and who engaged in the major renovation of Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, now a hype place in that city. “The aim is to involve the community and should we had built a hotel we would not rely on the involvement of the local community. But with a shopping centre like these we can rely on the community’s involvement who will have a place to visit and to enjoy, aside from given Lisbon and tourists the possibility to acquire original Portuguese products”, Catarina Lopesm head of Eastbanc Portugal said during the press conference presenting the whole project.
Embaixada is indeed the right place to look for Portuguese products with a twist. Going through the shops we came across a myriad of products, some of the up until now only available abroad given their owners’ strategy to focus on exports. Boots from the Alentejo painted red or cork shoes from Land Collection, both available at the Louvre Museum store but not in Portugal, blankets by Ecolã and bags made of bio wool by Sennes that you might have seen a in store in Europe but not in town, or that particular furniture or clothing item that you saw in an aspirational or edgy magazine but never got the chance to buy in the country where it was produced.
Embaixada is here to provide retail space for Portuguese designers and brands but also for Portuguese entrepreneurs representing foreign brands. Moleskine, for example, is currently using this space for a limited period to show its full range of products. Others like Linkstore have chosen this mall to open their first multishop targeted to sophisticated men and offering high quality Portuguese and foreign brands from Bernardo shoes to Mercedes-Benz sunglasses.
Food and drinks, concerts and artist showcases are further uses of Embaixada. At VLA records, a cult shop offering old and new records and book mainly by Portuguese artists we spoke to Teresa Lopes Alves who told us of the plans to host monthly showcases in this building and where you will be given the possibility to enjoy music from Portugal, bringing back some names and bands who have made their reputation with their original projects in the 80s and 90s. By the time we left the place some retailers were still busy making sure all is set tomorrow when Embaixada will host its launching party and Friday when it will open to the general public and bring a new life to this already busy and groovy neighborhood.