With the backdrop of one of my favorite cities in the world, let alone Spain, setting the stage- Tile of Spain’s Passport to Creativity guests met for the first time on the scenic rooftop patio of Derby Hotel’s Claris Barcelona on the afternoon of Feb 3rd. Desipite long flights arriving just that morning the bubbling excitement of everyone was palpable, pairing beautifully with the free-flowing Cava. This would foreshadow the gregarious tone for the entire week.
Rooftop Pool & Terrace of Hotel Claris
The 2013 Grupo
My hat goes off to the Trade Commission and Frank advertising for planning and pulling off such an ambitious & rewarding trip & judging from the thank you letters, it will be a lifelong memory for all.
The realization that something special was happening was immediately apparent right from check in. The accommodations chosen for the first leg of the trip were as unique as the invited guests. Presiding over a corner lot in the trendy L’Eixample neighborhood of downtown, the Claris Hotel’s Façade proclaims to passersby the spirit of Spanish design- firm historic roots with an innovative spirit. The 19th century Façade of the Vedruna Palace has been beautifully restored and tastefully augmented with a modern, polished aluminum addition of the crowning two stories & rooftop terrace.
Hotel Claris Façade
East 47- The Lobby Bar
The surprises continue inside as the hotel takes the design term Period Fusion
to the next level. The lobby bar, East 47
holds an original Andy Warhol and sprinkled through the rest of the lobby area are Egyptian, Roman & Buddhist art pieces from multiple centuries. This fusion of diverse time periods & locales requires a practiced hand but is at heart, the iconic style of the 21st century (as we would discover later at Cevisama) because it intimately tells the owner’s story to every guest in the space. No surprise that the Claris belongs to the exclusive Design Hotels
- international brand.
Junior Suite at the Claris
Freddie Mercury’s operetta duet named for the city proclaims- “Barcelona- Such a beautiful horizon. Like a jewel in the sun” and truly it was drawing us onward that afternoon despite a long day of travel for all.
With bellies full of canapés & cava the group hastened from the stunning rooftop terrace on to the bus for an architectural tour dubbed “The Tale of Two Parks” with a short four hours of daylight remaining. First stop- Parc Guell.
Iconic trencadis benches
Originally planned as a 20th century version of a luxury sub-division, the park contains only two homes, one of which Gaudi was forced to buy and live in for years. Although this is my favorite place for sunrise in the city, the late afternoon sunlight we found ourselves enveloped in did
make for a beautiful setting for the start of our tour. With the group sitting on the iconic benches lovingly clad in Gaudi’s favored trencadis
mosaics, we first heard a name that would be oft repeated throughout the trip, Toni Cumella. Cumella’s studio undertook a restoration commission of the ceramics in the park in the 1990’s.
View of the city from the terrace
Parc Diagonal del Mar
The next park on the agenda was Parc Diagonal del Mar, designed by Enric Miralles. Near the ocean, in a previously industrial district this park was designed in what proved to be a successful opening salvo in a revitalization project for the area, now home to shopping centers and multiple condos. Once again trencadis mosaics are featured heavily, this time gracing the bulbous forms of hanging planters. On close inspection of the brightly colored ceramics, one notices they are all whimsical but recognizable representations of soda cans and lollipop wrappers. Once again, Toni at Ceramica Cumella
did all ceramic work throughout the park.
Trencadis Planters housing local grapevines
One of the trencadis mosaic designs
Racing the sunset… and losing, we arrived at our final stop for the day at the Santa Catarina marketplace in total darkness. The renovation project preserved the 2 century old façade but redefined the structure with a modern undulating roofline clad with… you guessed it- ceramic tile. The now familiar names of architects Enric Miralles & Benedetta Taglibue working with the ceramicist Toni Cumella were given credit for the project. Sadly, without daylight, viewing the scintillating colors of the hexagonal tiles on the roofline was impossible but it had been a full day so everyone was ready for tapas & a caña or four.
Steve & I think it's time for dinner- Who else?
Day two of the trip will be saved for next time and believe me, it’s worth the wait! The day started out possibly being the most professionally inspirational of my life and turned into one of the most surreal experiences I think anyone on the trip has ever had. Check back soon!