A Fashion Alumna Creates an Art- and Antique-Driven Madrid Boutique

At Salon 27, shoppers can discover seasonal collections from independent designers alongside museum-caliber artwork and collectible design.

Credit (all images): Raúl Cabanes Mata

It’s not often that New York Times articles from the 1960s inspire contemporary interiors, but Madrid’s Salon 27 is a testament to the power of the unexpected. After years spent working for fashion industry titans in New York City, founder Sarah Barney left for Madrid with aspirations of creating a shop that brought together independent designers such as Altuzarra, Wales Bonner, A.W.A.K.E Mode, and Bibi van der Velden. While bringing the space to life, Barney recalls, she read the fateful article that described Stein’s Parisian salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus as being “a mecca for the bon vivants and lovers of the good life to meet, argue, and discuss the world of art, literature, and life,” she says. “That felt like the right place to start with inspiration.” 

Barney has since realized that vision. Today, Salon 27 stocks independent designers who the owner-designer says are “rooted in their respect for fashion as an art” and has inaugurated its in-store gallery with an exhibition of Ouka Lelee’s conceptual fashion photography—first shown at the Cartier Foundation in 1988. Below, we take a closer look.

What was the vision behind the project?

To create an ever-evolving retail space that’s warm, friendly, and unique. I wanted to open a multidisciplinary space that didn’t have “rules.” I find so many fashion and art spaces to be coolly impersonal. By combining luxury independent designers, antique furniture, and décor with contemporary artists, we built a space that feels more like a home or a salon rather than another anonymous shop. The space is meant to feel luxurious, but alive and welcoming.

What colors and materials are central to the visual identity? 

Each season, we change how we display in the store, so the core design has to be transformational. Nothing in the store is set permanently—every element can be moved or changed. In order to create this type of space, I chose a color scheme of natural woods, white, antique brass detailing and vintage white marble.

What stands out to you the most, now that you’ve finished it?

The reactions from people who walk in and discover it. I’m always surprised that I was able to create a space that other people love as much as I do. I took my years of experience working for Saks Fifth Avenue and Juicy Couture and transformed that into my exact vision for Salon 27. When women walk in, the space welcomes them before they start speaking to my wonderful sales team or discovering the beauty of our designers and artists. 

What were your references of inspiration?

I always tend to be attracted to midcentury pieces, but we have an eclectic mix of pieces. We have these incredible Telephonica swivel chairs from the 1930s in the fitting rooms and a white marble Italian dining table from the ‘70s. The most interesting spaces work not because everything matches perfectly, but because surprising combinations compliment each other.

What’s your favorite detail?

All the furniture that we have is antique or vintage. I had bought a small dining table to use in my own apartment kitchen and realized that it was perfect for one of our rooms. An inlay wood table, made in Valencia Spain in the 1940’s. I spent two days stripping the varnish, sanding, and restoring it to the natural wood. It’s a very simple piece, but it beautifully pulls together the entire room now in the salon.

What provided a welcome distraction on the job?

I have a small team that works with me, but they’re like family and we have fun. They’ve helped me with every step of the design and buildout. We all have very different styles and strong opinions on them. I couldn’t have opened Salon 27 without their collaboration and love. It’s like a second home for all of us. We remind each other often, while laughing, to “pretend it’s a store,” in a nod to the Fran Lebowitz documentary Pretend It’s a City.

Next project on the horizon?

Just Salon 27 for the moment. It’s always a work in progress and I want to expand the furniture and décor designers we work with and collaborate more with local businesses.

All Stories