Photography, design and architecture
This text, about design and architecture in the Basque scenario, focus on those approaches that favour an interdisciplinary debate and incorporate a sharp sense of reflexibility and aesthetic novelty. Sometimes forming a pair, this work addresses design and architecture both together and as separate disciplines, with both indebted to the other.
From a jewel of rationalism, the Royal Nautical Club in Donostia by Jose Manuel Aizpurua and Joaquin Labayen, in 1929, via Luis Peña Ganchegi and Rafael Moneo, to contemporary generations of architects, the text focuses on so-called “media” architecture, in contrast to efforts based on local architecture. The work exposes some of the salient contradictions that Basque architects must confront in a context where star architects (Gehry, Foster, Zaha Hadid and others) are truly in demand.
At the same time, the work explores architectural practices which are closer to engineering, such as the ACXT company, the antithesis of iconic architecture and creator of the Miribilla Sports Pavilion in Bilbao. In the field of design, the journey begins with one of the pioneers of Basque industrial design, the artist Nestor Basterretxea, and later probes into the problems inherent in the use of the word “design,” which has ranged from industrial or product design (with companies like Stua, Akaba and Dhemen), to those initiatives encouraging a design culture (Imatra), and now encompasses an expanded contemporary definition within innovation companies and creative industries that have led Bilbao to become a candidate for World Design Capital in 2014.
Art critic, independent curator and editor