From the labyrinthine paths and serene squares of the Gothic Quarter to the stunning art nouveau architecture of the Eixample, Barcelona is a place of irresistible charm. And throughout this beloved Catalan city by the sea, dazzling signage is everywhere: glowing mosaics and stained glass, intricately carved stonework and brilliantly gilded placards heralding the city’s eclectic mix of commerce, all documented with affection and a dash of obsession by celebrated graphic designer Louise Fili.
Gràfica de les Rambles is Fili’s travelogue and photographic diary of the most striking and inventive signs for restaurants and hotels, farmàcies and pastisserias, the workshops of artisanal craftspeople and grand department stores. This love letter to Barcelona is a trove of inspiration for designers and all those who admire the city of Gaudí.
Louise Fili fue directora de arte de Pantheon Books antes de fundar su propio estudio en 1989. Es miembro del Art Directors Club Hall of Fame y su trabajo ha sido galardonado por la AIGA y el Type Directors Club. Es autora de numerosos libros sobre diseño y tipografía, entre los que se encuentran Grafica della Strada: The Signs of Italy, Graphique de la Rue: The Signs of Paris, Elegantissima y The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence.
Mosaics i vitralls
On my first trip to barcelona, in the early 1970s, i was enchanted by Modernisme, the city’s own brand of art nouveau, which had influenced the entire urban landscape. Antoni Gaudí’s elegant architecture was intoxicating—and then there was the shop signage: fluid and poetic, enhanced by mosaics, gold leaf, stained glass, and wrought iron. It was love at first sight.
My previous books on European signage were created out of a sense of urgency; I felt compelled to record the beautiful street typography of Italy and Paris before it would vanish forever. After Grafica della Strada and Graphique de la Rue, Barcelona seemed like the obvious next choice, especially given reports of its signage disappearing at an alarmingly rapid rate. There was no time to wait for my publisher to say yes: I spent hours on Google Street View, plotted out my maps, and left as quickly as possible.
I arrived in late December and literally ran to my favorite spots, fearing they might be bare. One of the signs I was most looking forward to seeing was Fotos López, a lovely script that I had admired in photographs. I raced to the location to find an empty facade, with only the ghostly traces of typography left behind. I was devastated; I seemed to have missed the removal by a matter of minutes. The next day, when interviewed by a reporter from El País, I happened to mention the incident, which was in turn noted in the article that appeared a day later. The following week, after I returned to New York, I received an email from Ángel López, grandson of the Fotos López founder. He wrote that he and his family were very moved by the article and added, “If you are ever back in Barcelona we can remount the sign on the wall for you to take a picture.” I returned as soon as I was able (how long could an offer like that last?), and the entire López family came out for the event—including Angel’s sister Rosa with her husband and three children, who had made the trip from Germany. The photo studio had closed a year before, and although the family still owns the building, concerns about theft (a frequent subject in Barcelona) had kept the sign safely indoors. This book is dedicated to the López family, who, along with many other small businesses, have managed to keep the city’s exquisite historic signage alive.
Copyright del texto: sus autores
Copyright de la edición: Editorial Gustavo Gili SL