Looking back in time, Barcelona’s early 1970s art scene was somewhat particular, slowly evolving a sense of pride in local architecture, design, and applied arts with new ideas flooding in and people opening their hearts and minds to all sorts of novel influences. It was a time that spawned young collectives with outstanding ideas, some of which are still alive and kicking, like BD. Think disenchanted dreamers or architects trying to splice design with art. Their names: Lluís Clotet, Oscar Tusquets, Mireia Riera, Cristian Cirici, and Pep Bonet. To date, they remain Spain’s design company of the highest international repute.
Two of BD Barcelona Design’s best-known collections were inspired by key figures of Catalan art, design, and architecture: Salvador Dalí and Antoni Gaudí. The former often included pieces of furniture in his artwork and these were exclusively reproduced by BD thanks to a collaboration with the Dalí Foundation. The result: a series of exceptional lamps, benches, and chairs that translate the artist’s surrealist philosophy to the design experience. Meanwhile, the Gaudí Collection recreates the meticulous aesthetic of the famous architect across a range of furniture. Here, varnished solid oak takes pride of place, used in benches, stools, and chairs as well as an asymmetrical Calvet mirror sculpture covered in a fine gold leaf. Coincidentally, one of Gaudí’s benches, the design found at Park Güell, just celebrated its 40th anniversary. As a result, the Barcelona Design Gallery’s stunning entrance treats visitors to a range of benches in different colors, arranged across different levels on pallet foundations.
At the same time, BD Barcelona considers the above-mentioned historical influences an integral part of their design approach and team. Other internationally renowned designers include Doshi Levien, the couple responsible for the Shanty cabinet – a colorful and ostensibly innocent item that references the roofs of Indian, African, and Brazilian shantytown housing. Creators of further striking pieces include Antoine et Manuel and his Tout Va Bien cabinet, a storage objet d’art riddled with various fantasy surfaces and reliefs. And the list is long: Designers come and go, create and learn, add and exchange yet, at the end of the day, it is the BD philosophy that remains and rules supreme. From steel tables to The Narcissist – an ostentatious dressing table studded with Swarovski crystals – the objects displayed at the Barcelona Design Gallery invariably lure us into a parallel realm; one where design does meet art.
Text: Bea Salas (lamono magazine)
Pictures: Maud Sophie Andrieux (lamono magazine)
Header image: b.d barcelona design