La Floresta’s El Pobre Diablo bar, gallery and live music venue has been reinvented as Industria Creativa, with a whole new sense of energy, passion and purpose. After the building was acquired by Uribe & Schwarzkopf in 2018, many people feared a new block of apartments would rise on the site. But the company’s philosophy of “building culture” encouraged an apparently unlikely combination of businesses to root, grow and flourish. Here, Ñan talks to the people behind Industria Creativa.
The Social Entrepreneur
IMPAQTO Co-Working La Floresta
“It’s a heavy baton to take up,” admits IMPAQTO’s co-founder, Michelle Arévalo. “But it’s been an honor for our co-working company to continue the legacy of creativity here. With the amazing architectural team at Uribe and Schwarzkopf, we’ve updated the Pobre Diablo, revamped it, reinvented it, but we’ve also paid homage to what this place was and symbolized.”
The co-working space opened its doors to a new generation of creative entrepreneurs in May of this year. Walking in today, it’s a strange feeling of déja vu and bring in the new. The posters plugging concerts and the metallic chimney are still there, and the worn wooden floorboards still creak. But now the glow of Apple logos emanates from laptops, the bathrooms are now gender-neutral and it’s got more feminine: 10 murals from female Ecuadorian urban artists adorn the new areas opened in the rear of the property.
“Uribe and Schwarzkopf could have chosen the easy route. But they believed in IMPAQTO’s ability to be more than just a co-working space. We’re creating a true hive of creativity here, a true community, one which generates positive social impact, both for the neighborhood and for the city.”
Earlier in the year, IMPAQTO organized a packed-to-the-rafters series of talks about the Orange Economy, a sign that IMPAQTO can really become a hub for cultural and creative entrepreneurship in the capital, one that creates ripples across the local economy and reaches distant international shores.
Alvaro Reinoso is, like all good chefs, passionate about his enterprise and his vision. Still only in his mid-thirties, he’s blazed a trail in Ecuadorian cuisine over the last years. “Terra’s mission to push the envelope, to be the instigators of new trends that will one day become part of the mainstream. It’s about making great food that people will love, but also about educating local palates bit by bit,” he says.
With his training at the famous Catalan gastrodome of El Celler de Can Roca, Alvaro is a fearless alchemist. His ability to blend the classical preparations of French cooking with the avant-garde and the Ecuadorian shines in every item on his menu.
It’s steak tartare as a starter, yes, but it comes with a circle of potato foam à la traditional locro and two layers of potato slithers between the meat that make one think of a llapingacho. His bearnaise sauce is conjured with the taxo fruit. His beef tenderloin is seared in a uchujacu seven-cereal flour that hails from Cayambe. His ice-cream dessert looks like a fairground ride straight from a Sunday in Salcedo, while his Roca brothers-inspired gazpacho is made from uvilla (goldenberry). The mind boggles, the eyes reel, the taste buds order a second helping.
If IMPAQTO next-door is all about community, then Terra is all about communion, with nature, with flavor. Amid the mosaic-topped tables, the trees that intertwine with the tables and the roof, the copper pipes and earthen hues, he has created an experience that is the epitome of creativity.
“I’m happier now and my life is less complicated!” laughs Pepe Avilés, the former co-owner of the Pobre Diablo and curator of the adjoining gallery called El Conteiner. Pepe was delighted when Uribe & Schwarzkopf invited him to continue his work in the Industria Creativa. “It’s important that businesses contribute to both society and culture,” says Pepe. “Quito needs spaces for art and dialogue. The company’s vision for supporting culture, for giving back, is solid and we’re all excited about the potential these partnerships can create”.
Galería N24 will build on Pepe and his team’s decades of work: a renewed home for contemporary art in all its fascinating facets. “We want to be a gallery where less-recognized and up-and-coming artists can find an audience, as well as for celebrating the very best,” he says. The gallery will host exhibitions, of course, but also presentations, book launches, workshops, and incubate projects.
Renowned Ecuadorian photographer, Judy Bustamante, will have a show starting in January. But first comes the talented ceramicist, Natalia Espinosa. N24 promises to be an invaluable new source of inspiration and celebration of art in Quito.
Isabel La Católica E24-274 y Galavis esq. La Floresta
Av. Eloy Alfaro y Av. República
(593-02) 2560644 / (593-02) 2566144