Barcelona is a city that's long punched considerable weight in the art and design worlds. From the genius of Gaudi to the cool of festivals like Sonar and OFFF, the Catalan capital has firmly established itself as a hub for creativity.
One person who recognised that is Dave Sedgwick, the owner of Manchester-based design studio StudioDBD. He organised the first BCNMCR event back in 2013, inviting design agencies from Spain's second-largest city to visit the UK's. The event returned this year after a nine-year hiatus, and there's a rather nice limited-edition book to commemorate it. We spoke to Sedgwick to find out a little about his inspiration (see our pick of the best graphic design books for more gems).
"It’s not an easy one to put my finger on if I am entirely honest," Sedgwick says when asked what makes Barcelona so special. "It's really a combination of many things, from the architecture, the constant juxtaposition between the old and the new, the beach being in such close proximity to the city, the narrow streets, the fusion of many cultures and all the little details from the smells of the streets being cleaned to the performers on The Ramblas."
He fell in love with the city back in the 1990s and returned over many years. As his own career developed with StudioDBD, he began taking an interest in the city's design scene and connecting with agencies. He sees an obvious connection between Barcelona and Manchester, neither of them a national capital but both standing out for their industrial histories and their love of design and music. "It seems the Hacienda, Factory Records and Peter Saville really resonated with the creatives of Barcelona," Sedgwick notes.
To create the 180-page book accompanying this year's BCNMCR at Hallé St Peter's, Sedgwick asked the creatives taking part to tell him where they see themselves in ten years. He received varied and interesting responses, capturing the feelings of the Barcelona design scene. One of the main themes was the desire to continue to work on exciting projects with decent clients. Some raised concerns about AI technology, but most look optimistically on the possibilities it opens.
"I think as a general theme, it would be that people want to carry on doing the best work they can do and stay interested and involved in the creative scene. In terms of technology, the main take for me was that people want to try to embrace it rather than hide away from it. Some even used AI to create specific work for the book.
Sedgwick conducted more in-depth video interviews for the book as well, including with the likes of Veronica Fuerta at Hey Studio and Pablo Juncadella at Mucho. "It’s interesting with those guys to not only look to the future but also the past as well, in order to consider how their studios have developed since the first BCNMCR which they were involved in," he notes.
The book's a pleasure to look at, with many of the agencies creating unique work for the publication – some looking at the future and some considering the connections between Barcelona and Manchester. You can buy the BCNMCR book from bcnmcr.com