CR: How did BCNMCR start? Why Barcelona?
DS: Barcelona was the first foreign city I ever visited way back at art college in the 1990s. I instantly fell in love with the place. Over the years I started to appreciate the rich and varied design scene in the city. On my trips over I would often make a point of visiting book shops and picking up magazines focusing on the studios and artists working there. It became a bit of a habit and I suddenly found myself with a collection of Spanish design books taking over my studio space.
Barcelona and Manchester share many historical and cultural similarities. As well as being often quoted as ‘second cities’ to Madrid and London, they both reinvented themselves back in the 1990s and there are even parts of Barcelona closely related to the city of Manchester. The Poblenou district for example has worn the title of the ‘Catalan Manchester’ for many years due to its close similarity to the industrial past of Manchester.
CR: What is the intention of BCNMCR? What is new for the event this year?
DS: To bring the people and cities closer together through design and creativity. There’s lots new for this years’ event. After the success of the event in 2013, it was important for me to try to better this.
I started by increasing the amount of studios involved from five to 11. This has resulted in an increased amount of varied work from illustration to typography, from design to photography. I also wanted to extend the length of time the exhibition was open so that more people could get to see the show. The big thing that has also changed is the talks and the venue for these. This year, six of the studios are attending Manchester and the talks will take place at the Hallé St Peter’s Church in Ancoats, allowing me to increase numbers for this event. There will also be a chance to pick up a limited edition newspaper available only at the event with interviews from all the studios involved. Finally, you can also purchase the work that is actually in the show. When it ends in April, you will be able to walk away with a one-off print from the likes of Brosmind, Alex Trochut or Folch.
CR: Are there other cities that you are thinking of doing similar exchanges with?
DS I would love to start working with other cities. Doing events such as BCNMCR has made me appreciate how closely intertwined we all are, certainly across Europe. Some of the studios even have offices in other cities in Germany and the UK. When I started out in the design industry it wasn’t easy to find out too much about studios and designers around the world. The internet has made that closeness and intimacy even more prevalent.
I’d also like to seriously look at taking Manchester to Barcelona and there are already talks about that happening. The thing is, I do this around working as a designer full-time and although it’s a great passion it doesn’t pay the bills. So I need to look at ways to sustain it as a concept. This year I am extremely grateful to Shillington College for their massive support and sponsorship. I really couldn’t have achieved this without them.
BCNMCR runs from March 27 to April 23, see bcnmcr.co.uk