Art Deco in Barcelona

The Design History Foundation launches its teaching programme with a course on Art Deco, which will offer both an international approach to the style and sessions on its local impact.

The 18-hour course will take place between 30.09.09 and 16.12.09, at the Disseny Hub Barcelona, C/ Montcada, 12, 08003 Barcelona. Sessions will be in Catalan.

More information here.

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.

Mariscal whirlwind

MariscaLDN
While in London I visited the Mariscal retrospective (see technical details here) and found it wonderful. The energy of Mariscal’s design reverberates through the exhibition, a dizzying display that builds on the very qualities it seeks to showcase.

It’s a fine tribute to Mariscal’s extraordinary creative zest, his enduring playfulness, and the sheer power of a vision that has created a very consistent personal world, both laid-back and vibrant.

Mariscal Drawing Life at the Design Museum London

01 July – 01 November 2009

The first UK retrospective of Spanish designer and artist Javier Mariscal will open on July 1 at the Design Museum, London. Regarded as one of the world’s most innovative and original designers of our time, Mariscal’s rich and diverse body of work spans kooky cartoon characters to stunning interiors, from furniture to graphic design and corporate identities.

Mariscal’s intense relationship with drawing and illustration is central to his career and is the basis for his designs over the last 30 years. He gave Barcelona its graphic identity as it emerged from the Franco era and in 1992 he introduced the world to Cobi, the official Olympic mascot of the Barcelona games. Sketches, designs, films and photographs will be on display alongside furniture and textiles. Mariscal will also design and paint an elaborate mural for the exterior of the museum showcasing his unique vision and signature design style.

DESIGN MUSEUM, SHAD THAMES, LONDON SE1 2YD
TICKETS: Adults £8.50; Concessions £6.50;
Students £5.00; Under 12s free
OPENING: 10.00 -17.45 Daily. Last Admission: 17.15
PUBLIC INFORMATION T: 020 7940 8790
W: designmuseum.org ADVANCE BOOKING T: 020 7940
8783
W: ticketweb.co.uk

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.

How many posters can you stack on the head of a pin?

Book cover by Daniel Gil.

Book cover by Daniel Gil.

I haven’t actually done the head of a pin calculations yet, but I can tell you for a fact that you can fit pretty much all of them in your pocket. The global digitization of archives continues apace, some of it backed by corporate or institutional funding, some of it the work of enthusiastic individuals.

Here’s a brief roundup of some online archives of Spanish graphic design that I’ve recently come across.

Cubiertas de Daniel GilDaniel Gil designed over 2000 book covers for Alianza Editorial between 1966 and 1992. 938 of them are shown here, a labour of love by Alvaro Sobrino.

Josep Artigas – Dissenyador Gràfic. Josep Artigas i Ojeda (Barcelona, 1919-1992) was one of Spain’s major post-war poster designers. Some biographical details are here. (in Catalan). This archive is managed by Memòria Digital de Catalunya (MDC).

Josep Artigas for Nestlé

Josep Artigas for Nestlé

Josep Artigas for Polil, 1949.

Josep Artigas for Polil, 1949.

Also on the MDC catalogue:

Cartells de la Biblioteca de Catalunya,

Cartells de la Biblioteca de l’Esport,

Cartells del Pavello de la Republica (mostly posters from the Second Republic and Civil War).