Barcelona & Design

02 Apr 2004|Darrel Rhea

What a great place Barcelona is to visit to increase your design awareness, or just get stimulated. This is a beautiful city, and it appears to have been that way for centuries. The architecture is delightful everywhere you turn, demonstrating that the Spanish are never afraid to add details with the sole purpose of delighting people. Every time I come to Barcelona I am more taken with the brilliance of Gaudi. Here is a sketch I did of his apartment roof, La Pedera.

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I did this on my tablet PC. I am enjoying learning to draw again, after years of laying off. The tablet is a fantastic tool for serious art and quick sketches too.

The retail is so stimulating that it makes shopping in America’s best malls feel as narrow and formulaic as they are. (I was going to use the word “impoverished,” but that sounds a bit dramatic and insensitive to those in less fortunate countries.) From a design sense, to experience Barcelona is to discover a wealth of visual stimuli. One can see a thousand unique styles of shoes within a hundred yards.

The “Replay” brand store was a highlight, offering the basic jeans and tees like most other youth retailers. Large marble fountains inside had candles floating in the water, an ornate chandelier above, wild, playful lighting everywhere, dramatic use of materials and fixture details.

The use of color is playful and greatly refined here, especially in fashion. It is interesting that the bright spring palette was everywhere except on the street. Perhaps it was the chilly weather we had, but the local dress was very somber.


Here is another Tablet sketch of Subirach’s facade at La Sagrada Familia.

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