This week I meet with one of the owners of Rialto Living lifestyle concept store, Swedish Barbara Bergman and her new general manager, Norwegian Svenn Rudow. Barbara is an icon in the Nordic Expat community and well known for her good taste and eye for details. She is also the person who traveled all over the world to find the special items and merchandise that are on sale in their shop, one of the most complete living concept stores in Europe.
Svenn has a long background from hospitality services where many know him from the time he was managing Tres hotel in the old town. He says he feels very privileged for this new opportunity, and you can really see that he enjoys his day-to-day work in the concept store. Retail is a new chapter for Svenn, and the opportunity came after a long break during the past pandemic year.
“I do miss travelling a lot, as it has been an important part of my life for practically all my life but there will be time for both business and travel in the future.” he said.
Is there any downsides of the job? “ I do spend big part of my salary in the shop, there are so many beautiful things here and it’s impossible to not take some of the things I love most with me home” he laughs.
Apart from being surrounded with lovely items all day he really enjoys taking care of the large team of employees in Rialto, which is something he has done before and really enjoyed from day one. “The Rialto staff are a fantastic team” he says.
Part of Rialto Living occupies the Baroque-style Palace that was once the 18th-century home of Irish military doctor John O’Ryan, who came to Mallorca to flee from the persecution of Catholics in his homeland. Here he married Francisca Flor i d’Alemany, daughter of a wealthy local businessman, and set up their home in the property which became known as Can O’Ryan.
Rialto Living’s home was once the Rialto Cinema, one of Palma’s most emblematic and historical picture houses. The first screening here was on 3 April 1926, when the audience watched the silent comedy movie “El principe encantador”. The cinema showed many cinema classics, until it closed its doors in 2002 – five years before the property reopened as Rialto Living.
Rialto Living doubled in size from its original 800sqm, following its expansion into Can O’Ryan. When the owners bought the property in 2012 it hadn’t been renovated since 1911. Their 21st century renovation included the restoration of some of the original architectural features of this Baroque-style property, creating a superb setting for their enlarged range of departments and products. Anyone who is interested in architecture and beautiful things can get all their senses satisfied during a visit.
As we sit down in the café part of the shop and enjoy a café con leche, I get the feeling of being in very good company, as the sunshine is coming through the skylight. Barbara says “There is something in this shop for everyone, we have top notch quality but there are also so many different products, some with beautiful design to a more competitive price, and if you do not want to shop you are always welcome for a coffee to enjoy the art and environment.”
I got a tour of the shop and passed through the gift shop, flower shop, clothes, kitchen utilities and the interior design department. You can easily dress an empty house with the products from here. The café has some lovely dishes, and all look very tempting. I promise to come back and try the Club Sandwich soon, it is one of the best on the island says Svenn.
We talked about the art exhibitions that are held on the top floor of the palace – “Yes” say Barbara, “We exhibit artists that have a certain connection with Mallorca, it can be someone born here or with special relations or links to the island. Many of the previous artist also have a Nordic background. What they all have in common is that the art is very tastful, colourful and the palace where the art is exposed is for sure one of the best places in town to be exposed at.