Architecture and design
Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
Basque architecture and design shape our world. They shape the way we dress, the spaces we live in and our relationship with everyday objects. Basque architects and designers have always looked beyond our borders, mindful of what is brewing elsewhere, and have managed to attract the world to our region. A collaborative approach in architecture, beyond well-known names, is currently gaining momentum. Today, Donostia is a factory of new ideas in Basque architecture. The Institute of Architecture of the Basque Country (Instituto de Arquitectura de Euskadi), the Mugak International Architecture Biennial, and the Faculty of Architecture of the University of the Basque Country are all based in San Sebastián. Bilbao is gradually becoming a bastion of Basque design and is proving that design can be a driving force for the economic development of the city itself.
The inquisitive vision of our architects has left traces of the rationalist movement that swept the international scene in the 1920s. Jose Manuel Aizpurua and Joaquín Labayen were architects behind the Club Naútico in Donostia; in Bizkaia, Fernando Arzadun was one of the most eminent architects of the time. In the wake of Jorge Oteiza´s sculptural theories, starting in the 1950s and 60s, Luis Peña Gantxegi, Francisco J. Sáenz de Oiza and Juan D. Fullaondo became the most important architects of the avant-garde second wave. Rafael Moneo stood out in the era of the ´star architects´ with his Kursaal Conference Center and Auditorium in Donostia. Over time, architects and engineers joined hands to show that more pragmatic architecture was possible. An example is the ACTX studio, founded by Jesús Susperregui and others, which created the Miribilla Sports Complex in Bilbao. Today, Basque architectural studios compete in a highly global ecosystem. Two of the most relevant exponents are VAUMM in Donostia, the architecture studio behind the Basque Culinary Center, and the Bilbao-based firm GAZ Arkitektoak, author of the Musikene building in Donostia. Critical regionalism has also made its entry into the Basque landscape.
The multifaceted Néstor Basterretxea was one of the leading figures of the Basque avant-garde. He set his sights on modern design, especially furniture, creating the BIOK furniture company in the 1960s. While Basterretxea based his design on art, Txema García Amiano was one of the first designers to burst into the Basque corporate world. García Amiano has practised design in various fields, always making inroads; the company he founded, TGA, is dedicated primarily to graphic design. Jesús Gasca, founder of STUA, is the ambassador of Basque furniture design to the world. Basque design is young. While it has been closely linked to industry, this association has often detracted from its own identity. The greatest challenge today is to create a culture of its own. The Basque Design Association (EIDE) and a growing number of design professionals are working toward this goal, each from their own area of expertise: industrial, graphic, gastronomy and fashion.
In addition to illustrious Basque fashion designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga and Paco Rabanne, are newer names in fashion including Miriam Ocáriz, Ion Fiz, Comme des Machines and Eñaut Barruetabeña. The trend known as ´New Basque Style´, created by Minimil and endorsed by Loreak Mendian, is of particularly note. The presence of women in both architecture and design is constantly on the rise.