Design Principles and Practices’s Updates

Barcelona Design Museum Homage to Catalonia

Image courtesy of / Lourdes Jansana | Article Link | by P.W.

Catalans tend to be proud of their region's history, language and achievements, and it is no surprise that Catalan art is the focus of the Barcelona Design Museum. This newly opened institute brings together 70,000 pieces that were previously housed in four museums devoted to different aspects of the subject: textiles and fashion, graphics, ceramics and decorative arts. Around 3,000 of these works are exhibited over four floors of this new structure, which itself provides evidence of Catalan visual flair. The building, which was designed by a firm of local architects, is dominated by cantilevering, walls of floor-to-ceiling glass and transparent-sided escalators.

Admission is free until the end of January, and a wide mix of ages and personal styles has been attracted to the new museum—not everyone wears the top-to-toe black favoured by fanciers of architecture and design (and, it must be said, this correspondent). Objects range from fourth-century Coptic textiles to contemporary jewellery and glass. A lipstick-red, Barcelona-made 1962 Impala motorcycle (pictured below) has plenty of va-va-voom, but a black-and-gold coach (circa 1750) also inspires thoughts of fantasy drives, albeit ones taken in powdered wigs not black leather. There are chandeliers, gilded chests, art-nouveau and art-deco furnishings. A large tile frieze (1710) shows vignettes of the 18th-century rage for chocolate-drinking among Barcelona’s aristocracy. Ceramics by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, poor and young when they lived in Barcelona, are included, as are fine examples of the very different creations of Cristobel Balenciaga and Paco Rabanne—another pair of 20th-century Spaniards who made their names in Paris. An ethereal embroidered and sequinned Balenciaga nightdress of 1958 and a late 1960s Rabanne chain-mail halter dress are part of a chronological display of catwalk fashions.

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