Travelogue from Barcelona
IARK recently took off to Barcelona to top up inspiration, knowledge and business-contacts that hopefully will last a lifetime.
Just like the famous architecture, food and ambience in the buzzing Catalan city, the weather couldn’t be better! In addition to obligatory, although fantastic, Gaudí visits in Parc Güell and Casa Batlló we also had time for a whole lot of other things. Let’s start from the beginning:
After dumping our luggage at the hotel we set off for Restaurant Cuines Santa Caterina. The restaurant, renovated by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, is inside the Santa Catarina market and serves an exciting combination of Asian, Mediterranean, Italian and vegetarian food. After lunch we continued up to Parc Güell with a local guide. The walk in the park made us hungry again so our evening ended up at restaurant BIGFISH in the el Born district.
Day two was sunny too, and we started with visits to various showrooms and architectural practices. Our first stop was at Estudi Bonjoch in the bohemian district of Gràcia. Surprisingly enough in such an important design capital as Barcelona, most of the architectural and design offices are relatively small. We were met by Ignasi Bonjoch himself who gave us tour of the office and an explanation of his concept and design for the famous underwear designer Andre Sarda’s showroom, followed by a visit to the actual showroom. Nearby, but hidden in a typical Spanish backyard, was the design office of the carpet guru Nani Marquina. We were introduced to the daily routines of the employees and followed the transformation from idea sketches to completed full scale carpets. We continued to their flagship store at the corner of Av. Diagonal and C/ Rosselló, and got to see how the carpets were being traditionally hand made in India, under the guidance of Nani Marquina herself.
The next stop was at Oficinas Puig, an old perfume factory that just five years ago was restored as their new HQ. We were introduced to the long and important family history of the Puigs, were given a tour of their light and airy premises housing 300 employees, and ended the visit with an interesting dialog about the different structural and technical complications during the renovation process.
Blanc Brasserie & Gastrobar at Hotel Mandarin Oriental.
Last, but not least, we had a fantastic lunch break at Blanc Brasserie & Gastrobar at the Hotel Mandarin Oriental, designed by the Catalan architects Carlos Ferrater and Joan Trias de Bes. The lunch ended with a tour of the hotel’s interior which was designed by the talented and versatile Patricia Urquiola.
After some rest and spare time on our own we headed up to Mon Vinic to partake of what Barcelona and Spain are so well known for; their fantastic wine and food culture. We were seated in a chambre separée with a private sommelier who introduced us to “the how and the why of each bottle”.
Saturday: 18 well rested travellers headed off on a Gaudí tour that started at the world-famous cathedral Sagrada Familia, and ended on the inside of Antoni Gaudí’s most emblematic work - Casa Batlló. Some of us had even higher goals for this particular day and took off to the mountains to experience the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat which offers one of the most spectacular views in Catalonia. The last evening in Barcelona was spent by the sea, and included a tour of the Starwood Hotel W, followed by an excellent meal at Restaurant Bravo and a nightcap on the hotel’s 26th floor.
Time to head back home con una risa bonita.