When Paco Muñoz (1925 – 2009) founded Darro in 1959, Spain had just started to emerge from the cultural isolation imposed by the Franco regime. The war and post– war years had severed the architectural postulates of the Modern Movement, which reached Spain in the twenties and whose ideation of rationality proposed inexpensive and functional living spaces. Darro was one of the leaders of this change in the 1950s and 1960s. Two decades devoted to avant– garde design and art that are revealed today as one of most solid and transcendental ventures into Spanish modernity.
After eight years working at Casa & Jardín, one of the Madrid’s most influential interior design firms, the time had come for him to risk setting out on the road toward industrial design trends that were seeking a new housing paradigm. Thus, with Fernando Alonso Martínez as a partner, he founded Darro S in 1959, whose business mission was ‘to produce and exhibit and sell mass pro- duced furniture and home décor’.
The shop was launched as a prestigious showcase of the new trends in art and design that were starting to trickle into the capital. The premises, which until 1962 also operated as an art gallery, had a large basement for furniture display and sale, both produced and designed by the Darro technical team and by oth- er important architects and artists like Javier Carvajal, Miguel Fisac and Equipo 57. A select collection of nordic designs and by the firm Italian Arflex rounded out this ambience of modernity and exclusivity.
Expansion was fast and in only a few short years, the company had points of sale in Seville, Valencia and Bilbao.
However, the fragility of the spanish industrial fabric, export difficulties and a market nearly exclusively limited to subsidised housing developments and a high– brow social class, were offset by the creativity and needs of a series of architects, artists and designers who knew how to meet producers’ demands and create a new culture and way of understanding the living space.
Until the shop closed in 1979, this stage led Darro to diversify
its business, primarily working to sell furniture and home decor and taking on interior design projects. For this exhibition, the Machado– Muñoz Gallery has recovered 60 pieces from its most prolific period.
Some Darro pieces designed by Paco Muñoz and his partners have attained iconic status with the passing of time. This is the case of the Riaza Chair, one of the few and still not extensive list of emblematic Spanish designs, such as the Coderch Lamp and those by Miguel Milá. However, all Darro’s creations are equally deserving of attention and form part of pioneers’ work who wanted to get the spanish to participate in modernity that had been publicly refuted and cast aside.