Gaudi is personal to me…Growing up in Barcelona from age 7 to almost 10, I was fortunate to see how his work influenced the face of architecture in Barcelona. To this day I distinctly remember walking past these fantastical buildings daily, or visiting these famous landmarks with my family.
Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), is one of the greatest architectural figures of the late 19th,early 20th Century and particularly so in the history of Spanish, and Catalan, architecture. Seen as the genius of the Modernist movement (Art Nouveau), his work was not only innovative, but also very radical.
Gaudi was an enigma, a celibate who designed some of the most sensuous buildings in the world. His greatest inspiration was nature. Passionate about plants and insects, he was known to say that the tree outside his window was his greatest teacher, and that nature is the language of architecture. The sea landscape was also one of his preferred inspirations.
Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order.
Besides nature, another important source of inspiration for his system of decoration was the Islamic and Iberian tradition of ceramic facing, best known in the form of the glazed pottery tiles, or “azulejos” used on the exteriors and interiors of many Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American buildings. Gaudi’s characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture drew admiration from other avant-garde artists. This led him to create, in close collaboration with some of the very fine artisans of his time, all those elements that make up architectural space – wrought iron, furniture, stained glass, sculptural work, mosaics, ceramics and so on – within an organic concept of decoration and with the integration of these elements into the construction process.
Gaudi also, by adorning many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns added another important dimension which is so often overlooked by architects – the use of colour. The combination of original design, interesting shaped stonework, and vibrant colours in Gaudi’s work give the viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience. I think this is what I remember most…the color and the sensual shapes.
Probably the building he is most famous for is the Sagrada Familia, a large Roman Catholic Church in downtown Barcelona. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I must admit that his sensual genius will always be an inspiration for me in my design work.
“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” Antonio Gaudi
While the video below is a bit longer then most, it is a inside look at a great man. I highly recommend the time…in the meantime, what childhood memories have influenced your life today? Could be a person, place or thing…leave a comment below, I’d love to know. After all, inspiration is a Little Bit of Beauty™ for sure.