Monday, May 26, 2008

European Style - Art Nouveau with Guimard & Expressionism with Gaudi

Ooh la la! Obvious perhaps, but that's what rolls from my mouth when I think back about a couple of design highlights from a recent three week adventure in Europe. There is a lot of amazing eye candy everywhere when traveling somewhere new. For me, eye candy can be tasty simply because my eyes have never experienced some of those fresh flavors before. With novelty aside, however, I did find two views in particular that will surely be long lasting with appeal. The first comes from the Art Nouveau movement, the second from the Expressionist movement.

Paris has no shortage of delicious architecture. It's history and cultural significance command it. Though when thinking back, a lot of what I saw is starting to blend together. A standout pierces through the sameness though... that being the Art Nouveua entrances to the metro system designed by Hector Guimard. I couldn't help but want to light a fire and start cooking a pig while sitting on bales of hay and listening to elves play their flutes. Lord of the Rings indeed! When passing through one of these entrances, we were starting an adventure into the underworld and labyrinths of tunnelorium. Sometimes in stark contrast to the seriousness of the the buildings around them, the metro iron work created by Guimard added a welcome touch of whimsy to the view.

My goal with this post is to show you a couple architectural design highlights from my recent trip, not to educate readers about the two movements mentioned. Instead I have provided some links so that you can learn as much as you'd like about Art Nouveau and Expressionist design from other resources. With that said... we move onto the next highlight!

Antoni Gaudi is the architect behind the second design morsel with his expressionist La Sagrada Familia. I'm still not sure what to say about this insane building, other than you will be drawn to it if you ever travel to Barcelona. The story itself is amazing, and still has decades upon decades of writing to be completed before the book is ready. The exterior is bizarrely stupendous and unlike anything else I have ever seen, and the mammoth volume of the interior left my mouth agape. I've seen my share of old buildings, and don't need to tour another church just because of its age and significance. Blah blah blah BUT, Sagrada Familia is most definitely not just another church. Well, maybe it is, but take a look at this unique piece of architecture...

Showing the height of the ceiling in La Sagrada Familia is tough. I zoomed in for the above picture, with as much below the field of view as above. The sheer mass of space perhaps did not dwarf that of say the Notre Dame in Paris, but something about the design lent itself to a much greater feel than any structure I had ever been in. Well... that's for another post!