Category Archives: iLike

Past and Future of the Barcelona Model

The new web of Parc de Belloch has been launched, with a whole set of great video interviews about design, Barcelona, urban landscaping and the city. Each interview comes with a downloadable pdf transcript in both the original Spanish and a translated English version.

I’ve posted a link to my own contribution above, and you can access further words of wisdom by the likes of Miguel Mila, Antoni Arola, Beth Gali, Nina Maso or Javier Nieto on Belloch’s site.

Techs-Mechs – Steampunk time?

Ulysse Nardin Chairman Mechanical Smartphone

Ulysse Nardin Chairman Mechanical Smartphone

I’ve been following the Steampunk phenomenon with fascination. It’s a stylistical branching out that makes perfect sense to me, bringing as it does the formal exuberance of 19th century excitement at the technological wonders of the industrial revolution, its heavy mechanical seduction, its steam and coaldust manliness, onto the flat, bland and opaque physicality of our own turn of the century electronics: Steampunk is hard at work trying to turn Bill Gates into Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Until now, Steampunk has been a somewhat tribal affair, developed by cyberpunk geeks intent on beautifying their gear, a labour of love and tinkering. Well, Steampunk is finally crossing over into mainstream consumer electronics – I was wondering when – and with the support of The Long Now Foundation no less… It makes perfect sense. The Ulysse Nardin Chairman hybrid smartphone’s unique selling point? It’s powered by a mechanical thingy that charges its battery through the users’ movements, just like self-winding wristwatches do. And it looks pure Steampunk.

I leave you with a couple of Steampunk beauties, in the hope that I will get a few of you hooked onto the trend.

Laptop by Datamancer

Laptop by Datamancer

Brass USB stick

Brass USB stick

Steampunk'd desktop computer

Steampunk'd desktop computer

And of course the most spectacular of them all, Paul St George’s Telectroscope that linked London and New York, the twin capitals of Steam and Punk, in the summer of 2008.

The Telectroscope, London end.

The Telectroscope, London end.

A map of writing on walls

IMG_0038

Design collective REDImei are putting together a great online guide to Barcelona graffiti, with photos linked to Google map tags.

UNFORTUNATELY (yes, this is me shouting) I can’t post any of the great pictures here, because all the images on their flickr photostream have an ‘All rights reserved’ Creative Commons licence. Come on, guys. This is street art we’re talking about, our shared urban culture, that laughs at private property and writes on walls.

So the picture above comes not from their otherwise wonderful project, but from my own modest collection. And as all my other stuff on this blog, you are welcome to make good use of it should you so wish, under an ‘Attribution – Share Alike’ CC licence.

At least I can give you the link to their Google Maps page.

Spanish Design Goes Online

designpedia.net

A few days ago I went to the presentation of Designpedia.net, a recently launched online encyclopaedia on Spanish Design. Designpedia is an open project based on the Wiki concept and under a Creative Commons license, which will grow thanks to the contribution of its users. Its remit is Spanish graphic and product design, although it welcomes interdisciplinary links across a variety of design fields, and its focus on Spanish design does not imply a strict territorial delimitation.

During the early stages of the project, an editorial committee will ensure the quality and relevance of the content, and it is hoped that as the project gains momentum, it will move closer to functioning as a wiki system that is self-edited and self-curated.

Spanish design has a considerable historical trajectory, a diverse institutional network and an active, energetic professional and cultural context. It desperately needs projects that can consolidate all that, and the focus provided by Designpedia is very timely, so I’m hoping this one will take off.  It’s been put together by knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. It also has a great interface, is very user-friendly, and google-friendly.  And I’m in it. So what more can I say to convince you? Go have a look, and if you can, contribute.

Designpedia.net is a project of the Fundación Signes.

Go Green? Shop Vintage. Buy Thrift. Recycle.

For the Greenest Office, Buy Vintage. Buy Thrift. Recycle.

With all the hubbub about green products, the point that everyone seems to miss is that the greenest move of all is to buy used stuff. Variously called “vintage,” “thrift,” or “second hand,” its updated name might simply be Cradle-to-Curb-to-Cradle. Stylewise, there doesn’t have to be any trade-offs, as this clever new office redesign by I29, a young architecture firm, proves. All of the pieces were sourced from local flea markets in Amsterdam; they were then given a contemporary, oh-so-Dutch look using environmentally friendly spray paint. The design fits the client—an ad agency called Gummo—pretty well…

(from Fast Company)

Objectified – Special screening in Barcelona

Objectified_Barcelona

OBJECTIFIED, the new documentary by Gary Hustwit will have its official and only screening in Spain, next Thursday 4th of June in Barcelona. I wrote about this film in an earlier post, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
From the press release:

OBJECTIFIED is the new feature-length documentary by acclaimed HELVETICA director, Gary Hustwit. The film is about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. Smart Design is featured in the film, along with many other top designers and firms such as IDEO, Dieter Rams and Jonathan Ive from Apple. If you are a designer or you have an interest in design, this movie is a must see. Furthermore, this will be a great occasion for the Barcelona design community to get together.

The film has been getting critic’s praise and audience’s applause as it has traveled the world in the last couple of months. You can get a little sneak peek by watching the trailer for the film here.

Don’t miss out on your only chance to attend the Spanish screening of this documentary.  You can buy tickets at the door on the day of the screening but limited seats are going fast you can buy them in advance here.

The screening will take place June 4th at Cines Alexandra, Rambla Catalunya 90 at 8pm. After the movie enjoy a talk with the film director, Gary Hustwit, meet Smart Design’s VP of Industrial Design and have a beer compliments of Moritz. There will be also an after-party later that night, to be announced at the screening.

Of cars, footballers, fascists and rockers

It’s Good Friday and it’s raining in Barcelona. I’ve finished re-reading Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames, and in a vain attempt to overcome the blues that I always get when I come to the end of a great book, I briefly turned on the TV, only to be bombarded by images of all the Holy Week processions taking place around Spain – which felt as a rather creepy mix of the Spanish Inquisition and Disney World.

So I took refuge in YouTube, and I now offer you a chronological selection of idiosyncratic Barcelona goodies for your entertainment.

These first two are the earliest Barcelona films I’ve been able to find on YT – the first one is truly charming, one gets a wonderful sense of the city as a Mediterranean port, and I love the images of a deserted, brand-new Park Guell patrolled by sabre-wielding policemen.

Barcelona 1900 – La perla del mediterráneo

Barcelona 1908

The Spanish Civil War in thirteen minutes and a half:

Barcelona 19 July 1936 partA

Guerra Civil Española -Bombardeos sobre Barcelona

Entrada de los fascistas en Barcelona 1/2

The Seat 600 was the poster boy of the Spanish economic miracle of the 1960s. It was launched in 1957, manufactured in Barcelona, and easy enough for a woman to drive!

BARCELONA 1950

Lanzamiento del Seat 600

Seat 600

The 60s were the decade of massive migration into Barcelona from the South of Spain, and with the influx of immigrants came the shantytowns. And the music: la Rumba Catalana was born. Peret sang Catalan rumba in the 60s, and Manu Chao a different kind of fusion rumba many decades later.

Campo de la bota

peret – el mig amic (galas del sábado)

Manu Chao – La rumba de Barcelona

In November 1975, Franco dies. The city -the country- lived on the razor’s edge.

Barcelona. Manifestacions anifranquistes 1976

The newly democratic Barcelona of the early 80’s still carried the dusty weight of almost four decades of dictatorship on its shoulders. Loquillo, one of the best Spanish rockers of the decade, sang of his city with perfect pitch, with just enough rage and anomie to capture the spirit of a youth culture about to explode in an extasy of pre-olympic urban transformation.

Loquillo y los Trogloditas – Barcelona Ciudad

Loquillo y Los Trogloditas – Avenida de la luz

Here’s the transformation itself, in a scary stop-motion video that was produced by HOLSA, the Barcelona Olympic public-private body that coordinated the urban renovation works. And no, the disappearance of the old farmer and his artichoke fields under a sea of cement isn’t meant as an ironic twist.

Barcelona 1992 La Transformación

In 2004, the City Council tried to pull another urban regeneration coup like the one in ’92 and invented the Universal Forum of Cultures, to take over a whole new chunk of city, build it up, prettify it, redesign it and hand it over to people other than those that were there to begin with. This time round, the Barcelonese were not too happy with the process and the Council lost the popularity contest. But got away with it anyway.

FORUM Barcelona 2004

Coop City 1 – Barcelona Post Forum 2004

And then came the tourists, among them Woody, Vicky and Cristina. Watch the movie trailer first, then the Barcelona City Council’s tourism promotion video, and try to spot the differences. (Answer: it’s the dolphins).

Landing at Barcelona’s El Prat

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Trailer

Barcelona Turisme Promo Video

Some tourists actually stay on for a while and compete for jobs with the immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe

Under the Table in Barcelona – Lonely Planet Travel Video

El Raval de Barcelona: un barrio que ya no es lo que era

And last but not least, Barça.

Barcelona: The Inside Story (Storyville BBC) part 1