The grand view inside Sagrada Famíla
Of the many cities I’ve visited over the years, Barcelona never ceases to amaze me. It’s forever seared into my brain as the dream city of Art Nouveau — where I saw the celebrated 19th century architect Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família and realized the imagination has no limit. As a creative working in the commercial sector, I’m all too familiar with compromising great ideas by bits and pieces as they come to fruition. But Gaudí had an extraordinary ability to turn his dreams into reality.
Gaudí: The Peak of Modernisme
Like many, I view Barcelona as the city of Gaudí. With all its Modernisme influences, it’s a city full of dreamy Catalan Art Nouveau, of which Gaudí stands at the peak. As Martin Filler said in The New York Review of Books, Gaudí was one among an extraordinary generation of local architects who embraced Modernisme, the distinctive Catalan variant of Art Nouveau which drew heavily on the Romantic revivalist renaissance movement of mid-19th century Spain.
As the renowned Louise Fili has said, “everything looks better on a tin”. Amongst all the little advertising items I collect, little tins are probably one of my favorites. It seems that nearly everything was packaged in these sturdy little boxes at one point, from laxatives to typewriter ribbons.
From the left: laxative, moth-deterrent, and two typewriter ribbons
Matchbox labels are the perfect thing for a typographic treasure hunter on a budget — they’re miniature in size, relatively cheap, and their lovely designs are hard to resist.
In the mid–19th to the mid–20th century, these little matchboxes with promotion space were a very important part of the industries. On these tiny panels were advertisements for pretty much everything including (but not limited to) opera companies, fashion companies, public-service announcements as well as political campaigns.
Variety of matchbox labels, usually about an inch (2.5 cm) high
Over the long Labor Day weekend, I had a lovely evening meeting several ladies in type. In some respects, it was one of those moments where you suddenly realize that you’re not quite alone in the world anymore as both a woman and creative individual. Sadly, it’s not often that you meet so many women in the creative field in one place. That being said, there should definitely be more opportunities to make it so.
In my early days after graduating college, I remember how shocked I was upon jumping into the corporate world of Typography and Design. Contrary to the gender-neutral classroom environment, the studios, agencies, and companies I worked for were overwhelmingly male-oriented. Could it be that women didn’t want to work at these places for specific reasons that I wasn’t seeing? If not, where did all these educated women go after they earned their diplomas?