Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gaudí at the Apple Store in Barcelona

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.

Parc Güell - 24

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.


  1. "A language is a dialect with an army", as they say:-)

  2. En realidad el catalán y el español provienen del latín. Y si vas por Barcelona el español se habla tanto o mas que el catalán, además del inglés, francés, árabe...
    Thanks to Internet we are able to know that Cataluña (Catalonia) is part of Spain. We know Liz doesn't like this, but is the truth :-)

  3. Also thanks to the Internet we are able to know that Catalonia is not only a part of Spain: it has the official status of a nationality, it has its own language, its own culture, and I could go on and on. We know you don't like this, but is the truth :-)

    Nice article by the way :D

  4. Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.

    1. Um, no. Nationalism is and can be many things. In Catalonia, it's a reaction against the colonialism of the Spanish government that both looks down on Catalonia and empties Catalonia's pockets. (But shall we look at Spanish Nationalism??)

  5. buuuufffff...sure in USA, NYC emties L.A. pockets and so on, perhaps my friend in Kansas empties my pocket too ;-) ...But if you think all is about money, Catalonia, as the rest of some autonomous regions in Spain, is in bankrupt. :-)
    Fortunately the rest of Spain and Europe will save Catalonia and the rest of eight autonomous regions in bankrupt....
    Even You and your friends in USA will save Spain, and Catalonia of course...but the first of all, my little town near Girona. First of all, my little town :-)

  6. will any of the fragments be available?

  7. It's good to know that Apple's showing some cross-cultural skills after all the blunders Google made with their maps. Perhaps it learned from Google's mistakes.

    If I may be allowed to plug a book I edited, G. K. Chesterton had a lot of sensible things to say (contra Jordi) about healthy nationalism in contrast to both internationalism and chauvinism.

    The former he described as people who love every country but their own. The later, which he called militarism since his prime example was Germany, were people who couldn't appreciate why others love their own country.

    Both, Chesterton said, help create the conditions for war. The former weaken a country by refusing to defend its borders and culture. The latter by regarding the borders of other countries as unimportant and their own culture as superior.

    Chesterton was a great champion of the right of little countries and small populations to maintain their own special identities. His great foe was H. G. Wells, who spent the last 50 years of his life promoting a world state run by a select cadre of experts.

    --Michael W. Perry, Editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

  8. Jordi TarradellasJuly 23, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    I agree with you Michael, your words are not (contra Jordi), although I was surprised to find the heading "Fascism and British Catholic Writers: A Symposium" on the cover of the current issue of The Chesterton Review. Edited by Father Ian Boyd in Saskatoon, The Chesterton Review (1437 College Dr., Saskatoon S7N 0W6) is one of the most remarkable publications in Canada.

    The love for your country, city or town is compatible with respect to people who think different. In Catalunya few people want to have and state or nation. Most of people feel themselves citizens from Catalunya and also Spain. I'm sure that some towns want their own nationality due to the GNP....the wealthy revolution, in fact. Unfortunately Catalunya is in bankrupt due to the worst management of its policy autonoumos government. Too many embassy around the world and funds to publish the Catalunya spirit...mmmm....in Germany many years ago happend something similar...

    OK, OK, I also have a quote:
    "America is not like a blanket-one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt-many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread", Jesse Jackson 1941

    Please, feel free to replace America by Catalonia, Catalunya, Cataluña, Spain or wherever..


    1. "Most people" (last polls says more than 51%) would vote yes in Referendum on Independence. http://www.elperiodico.cat/ca/noticias/politica/independentisme-catala-guanyaria-referendum-segons-ceo-1983741

  9. http://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/cataluna-referendum-independencia-fracaso-20091214.html

    How many???? :-))))))


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