ISSUE 26  |  Independence Day

Outbuilding of the Week: A Tiny Glass Studio in Barcelona

June 26, 2015 10:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

High in the hills above Barcelona, floral designer Manuela Sosa works in a tiny glass greenhouse, with the sky for a ceiling and expansive views of the city below. A story about Manuela’s unusual workspace on Freunde von Freunden piqued our interest, so our friend Mimi Giboin took her camera to Spain to investigate further. Serendipitously, she arrived in Barcelona on the day Manuela planned to host a dinner party for friends and colleagues. Here’s the report from Mimi:

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista except where noted.

Above: It turns out that a tiny glass work studio can be easily transformed into an open-air dining room–emphasis on open–with a few stylish and simple accessories. Here’s how the studio looked before Manuela began setting it up for the party. Photograph by Silva Conde via Freunde von Freunden

Above: When Mimi arrived, Manuela was preparing for a “Welcome Summer” dinner party. The guests would be some of her favorite wedding planners, florists, and friends. 

Above: Manuela is a former furniture designer who went to florists’ school in Uruguay, where she grew up. She came to Spain out of curiosity, liked it, and stayed. 

Above: In Barcelona, Manuela decided to start working with flowers and plants, but she kept the name of her furniture design business–Gang and the Wool–for her new venture.

Above: To reach Manuela’s place, you take a train ride from Barcelona followed by a bus ride on a small winding road with the most beautiful views of Barcelona’s hills and houses. The bus drops you right in front of her little bungalow.

Above: Manuela’s view is outrageous.

Above: Manuela grew up with greenhouses, since they’re common in Uruguay, and always wanted one. One day a friend called from England to tell her about a company that made greenhouses; Manuela bought one a week later. (Unfortunately, the company is no longer in business.) 

Above: Manuela assembled the greenhouse herself. “That’s why the door doesn’t close properly!” she says.

Above: Manuela’s grandfather was a carpenter, and this carpenter’s work table, bought from a local antique store, reminds her of him every day.

Above: This is Manuela’s workplace; you don’t pop by here to pick up a bouquet of flowers. But she does welcome visitors who call ahead.

Above: Manuela stockpiles dishes and crockery to use at the frequent events–from dinners to weddings–she holds at the greenhouse.  

Above: To organize and store her tools, Manuela uses glass jars, wooden fruit crates, and old drawers.

Above: Mimi watched Manuela make table arrangements for the dinner, putting moss and sea holly on slabs of tree trunk, then covering them with glass domes. “I love the little drops,” she said when condensation formed on the glass.

Above: Manuela loves the whole life of a flower: from its young start to the days the petals fall off.

Above: Manuela’s next big project will be to landscape the yard the greenhouse overlooks, adding English pathways and lots of flowing water.

For more of our favorite Outbuildings, see Artemis Russell’s Tiny Garden Backyard Studio and A Garden Workshop in Cambridge.