Thursday, 6 July 2017

Barcelona, te echaré de menos | Barcelona, I will miss you

Six months... has it really been that long? *Sigh*

As I pack up my bags and prepare to return home to Canada, it is time to reflect on my stay in Barcelona.

What have I learned?
-Certainly plenty about Spanish culture, about how to take life slowly and relax.
-A lot about architecture, other streams of design, and valuable resources that I can utilize in my future studies and career.
-How to cook (kind of)! With more time on  my hands I have been given the opportunity to experiment with new foods and flavours.
-To let go of not only lost items (I said goodbye to two cellphones and a nice camera during my time here nasty pickpocketers) but also "lost" opportunities. I now am trying to operate under the belief that if I did not attend something, then I was not meant to attend it.

The hike to the top of Montserrat.
A day-trip to la Costa Brava with my Uncle. 

-How to communicate better in Spanish, and even picked up a little bit of Catalan comprehension along the way.
-The value of language and am inspired to learn more.
-How to travel solo, and I now desperately want to explore more of Canada.
-A little bit more of Canada's place in the world, and what makes Canada unique among the brushstrokes of many other cultures.
-Why I value  the lovely West Coast, and how it forever is and forever will be a huge part of who I am.
-How to handle change and impermanence, especially in regards to the coming and going of the amazing people that have touched my time here.
-And many many many more things. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

I was fortunate enough to visit my roommate's village
"Mura" —year-round population: approximately 200. 

I went for San Joan, a holiday marked by a feast and fireworks. In Mura, the whole
community gets together in the main plaza to eat, dance, and set off fireworks. 

Kwinten soaking in some sun on the beach at Barceloneta.
He has truly grasped the Spaniard's concept of  tranquilidad.
What do I regret?
-Coming here? Absolutely not. Why? See above.
-Not bringing maple syrup with me on exchange.

How do I feel about going back?-Sad to be saying goodbye to the lovely people I have met and the never-boring Barcelona.
-Happy to see family, friends, and the beautiful nature of the West Coast.
-Optimistic about how I can take what I learned and bring it forward into my "normal" life.

Would I recommend this experience to a friend?
Heck. Yes.

The thing I will miss the most are the people and I only hope that I will be able to see some of them again. I must say I am quite envious of Europeans who have the ability to travel so easily and inexpensively; therefore, allowing them to actually visit people they meet. While I am sad to leave Barcelona and travelling, I am excited to return and see my home with fresh eyes.

These installations can be found all over
Barcelona. This one reads: "Life is so.
Full of light. Full of colour. A flower
 that opens in the center of your heart."

Drawing the canopy above els Encants flea market.

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #Barcelona #Spain #travel #drawing #Montserrat

Monday, 3 July 2017

La arquitectura de Barcelona (does this really need translating?)

Aside from being able to progress my Spanish, I chose Barcelona based on its wealth of architectural history. One truly needs a lifetime to be able to do an in-depth investigation of all the architecture there is to see here, from Roman ruins to modern, sculptural structures. 

An influential Catalan architect here in Barcelona (and world-wide) was Josep Lluis Sert. He was active in Modernism, and had collaborated with major figures such as Le Corbusier.  I was fortunate enough to attend guided tours to two of his buildings. The first was Casa Bloc, a high-density apartment block that provided ingenious solutions to creating a sense of place and community within the seemingly simple concept of residence. The second was the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic which was featured in the 1937 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Here he collaborated with artists such as Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso; in fact, one of Picasso's most famous works --the Guernica-- was given commissioned for and given central focus in the Pavilion. Unfortunately, my camera along with all the photos of Sert's work were lost. 

I was also able to visit the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. It is one of the most elegant structures I have ever been in (which is a contrasting opinion to a few of my instructors from Canada). It does an incredible job of dividing space with planes in a way that maintains open transitions and airflow. It is beautiful in its materiality as well, using consistent proportions and exhibiting seamless joining. While walking through it, I experienced serenity and quiet, both which are difficult to achieve in bustling Barcelona.

Caught a picture of Kwinten the
KPU Eagle admiring the lovely Dawn.

Arguably Barcelona's most famous architect --Antoni Gaudi-- is the one that stole my heart. Of course all of his designs --Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the crypt of Colonia Guell, Parque Guell, Palau Guell, among many more-- are all magnificent, but undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia is a cut above the rest. I had heard from instructors and older students that the experience of walking in the Sagrada Familia was met with tears but I did not think it would happen to me, and well --it did. Walking in, my chest to swelled with anticipation until it just broke and I was left breathless. It is peculiar, powerful, and beautiful. Gaudi was primarily inspired by nature, and the Sagrada Familia exhibits this on a macro and micro scale. From the distribution of the flutes on each column to the overall feeling of walking beneath a canopy of trees, every geometry and gesture can be explained by nature. I have never, and don't think I ever will again, encounter such an incredible church. 

 This church, however, is still unfinished. Gaudi was killed by a tramcar outside the Sagrada Familia during construction. I can only lament that we did not get to see the architectural wonders this master would have created if he even had just an extra 20 years. The Sagrada Familia is projected to be completed in 2026, exactly 100 years after Antoni Gaudi's death. So, in 2026 you will find me in Barcelona on the stoop of the Sagrada Familia. 

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #architecture #interiordesign #Barcelona
#MiesvanderRohe #AntoniGaudi #JosepLluisSert

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Adios Elisava!

I  have officially ended my exchange at Elisava School of Design and Engineering, and my experience at the school improved remarkably with this previous trimester. It was a trimester of design highs and lows --moments of utter euphoria, for example, after I designed what I thought was the PERFECT entry (of course only to be changed post-professor critique) and just reveled in the fact that I felt I had found the perfect career for myself; other moments where I cursed technology and computer programs in all of its complexity and inefficiency.

Elisava has a beautiful gallery to display students' work.

The very well-equipped workshop with extremely
 helpful instructors to help with any fabrication questions.

Kwinten brushing up on his design history
in Elisava's library.
All in all, I  loved my courses this trimester --one on portfolio development and self-branding, another on sustainable processes and products, and another studio-centered class, which was my favourite. This course was was group-structured, consisting of one product, one graphic, and one space designer. We were to design a business model and store situated in a local neighbourhood, based off of the prompt words "bread" and "chocolate". I absolutely loved this group structure because not only does it simulate real-life relationships between design streams, but I was also able to learn so much from the other members, especially the graphic design, of which I had very little previous knowledge. In the end our project was one of two chosen for keeping --our group was very pleased.

Something that I will be taking back to my studies at Kwantlen is the use of new materials and processes for final presentation production, which is something that they do very well here at Elisava. For example, the laser-cutter has always been a contraption of rocket science in my eyes, but now I realize that it is not only easy, but it saves tremendous amounts of time and results in better quality models. I will also be saying bye-bye to the rather limiting and environmentally-unfriendly foam core (believe me, this is NOT a sad good-bye).

With a little bit of extra time on my hands with my course load here at Elisava, I have been able to delve into researching areas of particular personal interest in design, especially in regards to sustainability and circular living. Rather than ending this trimester on a note of exhaustion, I am ending it in optimism as I feel like I am beginning to see where I want to take my future studies and career. The forever-elusive "purpose" seems to be taking a murky form on the horizon; however, I know that this will change before I finish my degree, or even before I return from my travels in Europe.

Amazing facilities aside, what I will miss most about Elisava is the intermingling between the facets of design. Constantly interacting with product and graphic designers, and even engineers has broadened my perspective in the world of design which not only can inspire and improve my own work, but will also aid me in knowing how to best work alongside other designers in the field. As I return to Kwantlen and the Wilson School of Design moves into its brand new building, I hope that this culture of interaction and sharing will be instilled into our classrooms. I am optimistic.

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #design #engineering #interiordesign #campus #Barcelona #Spain #travel

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Trimestre uno de dos = TERMINADO | Trimester One of Two = COMPLETED

One of my classes taught us about industrial
processes –essentially how things are made.
 In the practical portion of the course we were
 to learn how to execute some of these processes
in the making of a removeable foot of a cup.
The foot of the cup itself is made from a
resin cast from a silicone mold that we had
 to make ourselves. 
I have a very good first impression of Elisava School of Design and Engineering, although I nearly walked out the first day when all of my instructors started the classes speaking in Catalán (a language specific to this region of Spain that I did not understand a lick of) and I had a mini heart-attack; thankfully, I learned that I could ask for the instructors to speak in Spanish instead.

My schooling here has been much different than in Canada, with having my courses conducted in Spanish or Catalán and instead of interior design I have been more focused on product design. It is also a much different atmosphere attending a university that is entirely dedicated to design as opposed to KPU where we have a faculty of design and a wing of the campus. The school is very well equipped with full workshops, transformable classrooms, a gallery space to show off student work, and a full library specially curated for design. The atmosphere is certainly more conducive to design with so many creatives concentrated in a small space. Also, being in the heart of Barcelona means that you can walk out the campus doors and have inspiration at your fingertips.  

I have been very impressed by the high presentation level of final work put forward by my fellow classmates and this is something I hope to take forward in my own work. My favourite class of this trimester was my photography class, where I FINALLY learned how to properly use my camera. I also had a colour theory course (similar to something I did in first year, with the use of concept through form, colour, and texture), and an industrial processes class where we studied how many products are made.

This trimester I am focusing more on interior design and I am SO EXCITED about the courses I have lined up. In one course I am teamed up with a graphic and product designer and our task is to create a business/brand complete with a retail space based off of given prompts. As the interior designer of the group, I will be in charge of the retail space; however the challenge is to make the brand cohesive among all fronts of the business. Another one of my courses teaches about sustainable products and processes, and one of our projects includes redesigning the packaging for a childrens’ toy to be more sustainable. I am feeling very inspired and I know this is only going to be fueled during my visit to Milan for the design week.

You better believe I will be sketching and scheming all the way there, the whole time there, and all the way back.

Along with the foot of the cup, we were to design and fabricate
the packaging using thermoforming. My cup foot ended up
taking on the form of a tulip so I took that and ran when naming
and creating the packaging. 

In the colour and texture studies class we applied concept to a
cubic form with the use of shape, colour, and texture. My
concept was "opportunity", with each face of the cube depicting
a different way in which opportunities present themselves. The
model was constructed with foam core and then covered in paper.

The exterior of the cube was cladded in cool, matte colours to
represent how meaningless and dull life can be if one does not take
opportunities. The interiors are hot, vibrant, and highly textured
 to represent the amount of excitement and depth
opportunities bring to one´s life. 

The doors were placed on hinges so that they would open and close
as the viewer handles the cube. This element of interaction mimics
how one must be active/present in their life in order for opportunities
to cross their path. 

This is one of my favourite photographs taken for my photography class.
While it may not be compositionally correct, I love the moment it
captured and the division between hot and cool colours.

Go create something today. 

#KPUInternational #KPU #KPUStudyAbroad #Spain #Barcelona #Elisava #Design #Create #InteriorDesign #ProductDesign

Friday, 31 March 2017

Un cambio de ritmo | A change of pace

Let me tell you, Spain is treating me very well.

I am relishing in how much more balance my life has here (finals week aside). I have been able to cook so much more, spend afternoons sketching, go to yoga classes, socialize at night, and go to museums on weekends. Balance is something the Spaniards have nailed. Here in Spain, they hold their weekends –especially their Sundays— in high regard which means that almost the entire city shuts down and everyone takes the day off. Likewise, periodic breaks are always taken in classes so the students (and the instructor!) can go out for a smoke. This relaxed manner was forewarned by my uncle who lives here, and he taught me some of Spain's most useful phrases: "poco a poco" meaning "little by little", "no pasa nada" meaning "nothing happens" or "it's nothing", and "mañana" –"tomorrow".

Visit 1/2 to Sitges was on a particularly quiet and cloudy day. Sitges is a small town about a half hour train ride away from Barcelona and is considering one of the gay capitals of Spain.

Some highlights include going to Sitges for the annual Sitges festival. Everyone dresses up in costumes, confetti carpets the streets, and a party ensues for almost a week. On the Sunday night there was a parade with themed floats that blasted music. After the parade, the group of people I was with decided to go to one of the main plazas and dance to the music pouring out of the nearby bars. Another day my photography class took a day trip to a nearby city called Girona where we ran around taking photos and attended a museum of cinema. I went to a Glass Animals concert (10/10 would recommend) with a fellow international student and one of the best friends I have made here –Megan of England.

Xocolata i xurros - chocolate and churros (Yeah, learning some
Catalán! Just kidding, there are just signs for it everywhere)
There have been a couple setbacks. My phone was pick-pocketed on the metro and I had to dish out a sum of money to replace it. I have also been sick pretty consistently for the past month, requiring two rounds of antibiotics. Additionally, I often find myself craving little things from home; for example, one day that I was feeling particularly homesick I really had a hankering for Kraft Dinner Mac and Cheese but KD, nor any type of instant mac and cheese, was to be found! I had a similar experience when I wanted to bake some cookies. I went to Carrefour with my list of ingredients in hand to find that the baking "aisle" consisted of a five foot length of shelf tagged with crazy prices. I have to keep in mind and as my mother told me before she left: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do", so I am embracing all of the delicious pastries they have here instead!

La Boqueria: arguably Barcelona's most famous market which
is only a five minute walk from my apartment. Here is where I
do all my fruit shopping every week!

Kwinten the KPU Eagle posing with something
Spain is famous for: jamón (ham)
After nearly a month of being sick and being swamped in school work, I am excited to get back out into Barcelona and be a tourist. Now that the weather is getting warmer, beach days and bike tours are definitely on the agenda. With a lighter course load I also hope to venture out more into the rest of Europe, and I start that tomorrow when I leave for Italy! I will be attending the "Salon de Muebles" in Milan –a massive, week-long design expo that takes place every year. The design spills out of the main fairground into the rest of the city as design firms and other creatives show-off around the city. From Milan I will take a train to Nice, France and spend a week exploring the French Riviera. Wish me luck!

In a few days I will publish a secondary post explaining more of my academic experience during the first semester.

Go take a break today.

#KPUInternational #KPU #KPUStudyAbroad #Barcelona #Spain # Catalunya #travel #exchange #relax #changeofpace

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo desde Argentina! | Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Argentina!

Midnight on Christmas and New Years has always been marked by an
 outburst of fireworks set off by each house. The sky lights up and the sound is
 deafening, and they are set off for hours after midnight. To my
disappointment, fireworks have now been banned and this year was
 probably one of the last years we will see it.

For the past three weeks I have been in Cordobá, Argentina with my family enjoying the holidays with our relatives. Our days here have consisted of walking around the city, going to the pool, eating, having siestas, eating, seeing family, and eating. Highlights of the trip include going to see a performance of the provincial ballet, eating dulce de leche-filled facturas (amazing pastries --my favourite food down here!) and watching fantastic thunder and lightning storms. Additionally, a few days ago we drove out to a large lake where Cordobeses rent cabins to get out of the city; there was a persistent breeze that cut the weight of the hot days that preceded and horses wandered freely on the grassy banks –a lovely day in a picturesque landscape.

Every time I come to Argentina, I notice more and more the poverty and the inefficiency of the country. Bear in mind that this judgement is limited to the small pocket of Argentina that I have seen (Cordoba –the second largest city in Argentina--, the surrounding countryside, and Buenos Aires). In general, people here earn much less than we do in Canada yet their cost of living is the same or higher. The city is in a state of disrepair with sidewalks, buildings, and other infrastructure crumbling and becoming hazardous; I recently completed a class on human factors and Universal Design and let me tell you that the sidewalks here are quite inadequate (as a side note, while the sidewalks are not necessarily in good condition, I love their character –each house installs and maintains their portion of sidewalk and everyone uses a different material/pattern; therefore, as you walk you experience a diverse quilt of different textures and colours). I have been coming to Cordobá since I was born and it is interesting to see how my perspective changes. This time, I came with the eye of a (relatively inexperienced) designer and that is perhaps why I noticed more of the structural deficiencies of the country.

In Argentina, the large Christmas celebration happens on the 24th  where we
wait until 12am and toast, much like New Years. After that, all the kids 
rush to the tree to open presents. The 25th is often spent next to the
 pool with a full belly of Argentinian barbecue.

But of course, it is a wonderful place as well. The food is delicious, vibrant flowered trees line the roads, the countryside is gorgeous, and Argentinians put family indisputably before anything else. My uncle still goes to his parents’ house every day and Sundays are always devoted to getting the family together for lunch. The holidays here are not nearly as commercialized as in North America which means that Christmas and New Years are less about the traditional North American holiday activities and gift-giving and more about spending an evening with the family, celebrating another year passed. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to come here not only because I get to see my family and experience another culture, but also because it really puts into perspective how lucky I am to live on the West Coast of Canada.

Kwinten the KPU Eagle enjoying a licuado (an Argentinian smoothie).

I arrive in Barcelona tomorrow! My mother will be coming along with me and she is staying for the first couple of weeks. After I have school in the mornings we are going to explore the city, sketch along the way, and leave a trail of empty tapa dishes in our wake –oh, and homework, too ;).

Go indulge in something delicious today.

#travel #Argentina #Christmas #NewYears #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU