A Madrid Photography Lab Takes Cues From the Camera Obscura

Inside the Carmencita Film Lab by Paloma Beau.

Analogue is far from dead at Carmencita Film Lab, and in Madrid, the brand’s newest shop, designed by Valencia firm Paloma Beau, takes inspiration from the camera obscura, an old system of projecting an image onto a wall using a dark room with a small hole on one side.

Specializing in developing and digitizing analogue photographs, Carmencita opened its first shop, also created in collaboration with Paloma Beau, in Valencia in 2015 and now has locations across Spain and in Portugal, Dubai, Japan, and Germany. The new 860-square-foot store, washed in white, muted orange, and wood, marks the brand’s first foray into Madrid.

Guests are transported into the world of Carmencita Film Lab through a small circular room clad in distorted mirrors, a creative reimagining of entryway as aperture. Emerging into the main room, soaring walls and ceilings are punctuated with hanging white fabric panels and prints of some of the brand’s most iconic photographs.







The rectangular room is divided in half by two downward steps that radiate from a central point. Large windows are partially covered by floating wooden shelves for displaying merchandise. Near the entrance, a circular perforated orange railing collars a narrow staircase down to the basement, where a 320-square-foot space with worn brick serves as an incognito gallery for some of the brand’s photographic works.

Back on the main level, a rounded black rug leads down the steps to a tall wood counter, behind which two glass panels allow customers to watch what happens behind the scenes at the lab. Low mirrored ceiling panels in the lower space create a cozy enclave that contrasts with the high ceilings of the upper.

The custom modular furniture, designed by Paloma Beau and created by Lebrel Furniture, nods to the assembly-line process that has overtaken photographic development—the iroko wood and micro cement rectangles fit together in multiple ways so they can be used as displays, seating, storage, and counters, depending on the store’s changing needs.





Rods of vertical LED light designed by Paloma Bau illuminate the interiors. Plants throughout and, in one corner, Miguel Milá’s celebrated 1960s TMM floor lamp made for Santa & Cole imbue the place with a home-like comfort, establishing it not only as a place to shop but also to share in a love of analogue photography.

Behind a heavy black curtain, like others used in several places to add textured warmth to the space, a retro-style photo booth, accompanied by an illuminated column sign on the wall, allows shoppers to experience the magic of analogue first-hand.

To align with Carmencita Film Lab values, Paloma Bau focused on creating a timeless design, incorporating a palette of natural materials, including iroko wood, stone, jute, and cotton to recall the brand’s other locations. Going beyond the basic functions of a store, Paloma Bau establishes Carmencita Madrid as a true retail experience that welcomes any photographer with a love for analogue.




Analogue photographs by Jorge Peiró.