There's a bit of a hullabaloo in Barcelona today because of a huge, Gaudí-esque mosaic barrier that appeared overnight in front of the soon-to-be-opened flagship Apple store at the top of Plaça Catalunya. I finally got a chance to go down to see it this morning.
Before I go on, you have to know that Gaudí was a modernist (read: art nouveau) Catalan architect from the beginning of the 20th century, famous for using natural forms in his buildings. One of his most treasured (and most visited) creations, is the Park Güell, which has a gorgeous, undulating, mosaic bench that overlooks the city and the sea.
You should also know that there are mosaic recreations of every cheesy souvenir you can think of, including bulls which are as Spanish as they are non- and even anti-Catalan. In my mind, Apple got to the party late, but I'll give them credit for at least attempting to honor a bit of Barcelona's heritage.
There were reports that it is just cardboard. Not true, I touched it and I can assure you it's real. In fact, as I stood there looking at it, lamenting the shadow of the spotlights on the Apple, I overheard some American guys who were giving it some last-minute touches with a staple gun (into the grout).
I asked them if they had come all the way from the US to build this thing, and the guy told me that in fact, it was the work of The Guild, a design firm in Los Angeles, and that they had built the mosaic mural in LA and had shipped it to Barcelona, and constructed it in a single night, thanks to the efforts of 40 workers.
And then he told me that it was a temporary wall, and that it would disappear—indeed be destroyed and thrown into dumpsters!—in 10 days when the new Apple store opens.
Here are some closeups. The first time I saw pictures, I knew there was something in there. But it was @ganyet who pointed me to this post that explains how the mosaic is made up of "broken" Apple icons.
If anyone's wondering (not any of my regular readers, for sure :), Apple wrote the sign in Catalan, the language that's spoken in Barcelona. It's not a dialect, not a mix of Spanish and French, but rather a Romance language with a 1000 year old history and with more speakers than many other much more well-known languages (like say, Danish).
More pics on Flickr.