If you're in Barcelona and looking to uncover its famously eclectic design scene, here's one way to save time: ditch the guidebooks and tedious online research and simply book yourself a tour with Antiques & Boutiques.
Founders Lisa Richardson and Niki Robinson, both fashion designers, devise each itinerary according to a client's taste and budget, so no two tours are the same, although they are themed under three broad categories: fashion, contemporary furniture and antiques, and vintage home accessories. There are also general city walkabouts and treks around the city's fabulous food markets and best tapas joints, if you can handle only so much design.
Weaving through the charming, mazelike streets of El Raval or the Barri Gòtic, the tours reveal what casual visitors to the city can only hope to stumble upon: tucked-away boutiques showcasing the hottest up-and-coming local talent, vintage stores that feature high on the pillage lists of Hollywood's costume departments and busy backstreet workshops where edgy young designers craft beautifully made shoes.
Richardson and Robinson's scrupulously assembled database is constantly evolving, and the two regard scouring the city for new openings, collections and label launches as part of the process. Richardson's sideline as a reporter for influential fashion forecasters WGSN keeps her eye particularly well attuned.
No time for a tour? Then call on the fashionistas' "covetable address book" for a whole host of concierge-style services, including hotel and restaurant bookings. Excursions start from about $150 for three to four hours. See www.antiquesandboutiques.com for more.