Revealing our journey was a natural beginning for MONC, as we wanted to show how each of our products are designed, sourced and crafted to bring items that are truly genuine. For us, this is the most exciting part of a complex and intricate design process, which is tailored by our distinct design values. Each value builds the lifestyle of what we believe in as designers, and is reflected in every product that we create.
The first step in the design process is inspiration: inspiration is hard to define as it can come in so many forms. Often it’s a feeling of awe and surprise, and other times it’s a delicate reminder of a memory or occurrence gone by. These experiences are so important, and through sharing our journey we want to show our inspiration in each of the products we design. In Gracia, our inspiration came during the local ‘fiesta’, held in the neighbourhood each year. Local residents take weeks to intricately decorate the surrounding streets using papier mâché and recycled products. Visitors are taken through different stories as they walk through each busy street, where hanging canopies are filled with decorations that refract light and cast shadows on the surrounding residents’ homes creating mesmerising displays wherever you look.
I took the time to venture through the district to learn more about the local lifestyle. As I journeyed through the hustle and bustle of the streets, I enjoyed the sense of community as the locally run shops stayed open, and musicians and performers could be found on every corner. Approaching the main street,‘Carrer d’Asturias’, the atmosphere of the fiesta was starting to change and you could feel the buzz of the afternoon party beginning. After walked through the crowds, I stumbled upon the elegant front of ‘Coshop – Designers Community. Made in Barcelona’ the hub for local craft and design in Barcelona. The shelves were filled with the creations of Local designers, ranging from handmade jewellery to illustrated prints and leather goods to clothing. The shop was packed with thoughtfully crafted items, designed by locals and sold within the four shops around Barcelona. Behind each of these items is a maker’s journey of creativity, which brings both character and charm to each product that they design.
Venturing further into the shop I noticed a large windowed partition at the back. Looking through the glass I could see a selection of old dusty machines lit up by the sun pouring through two skylights. Full of interest, I asked the owner of the shop, Nieves Torres Ayala, if we could have a look. She un-padlocked the door and investigated further... to discover that it was a traditional medal and coin factory. The cabinets surrounding the room were filled with negative stamp designs ranging from sailing medals to Olympic coins. Due to the layer of dust, I presumed the factory must have been out-of-use for a few years, but it felt like the craftsmen had just dropped everything and left, as scraps of metal and misplaced tools were dotted around the place. It gave us insight into both the heritage of the shop and the neighbourhood itself. Gràcia, now an up and coming district for fashion and design, with Coshop leading the way for local craft and ‘cool sustainable fashion’. But behind the scenes these places often have a hidden story. Here, it’s the traditional craft of making medals and coins, which gives Gràcia a unique heritage in itself.
Words and photography by Freddie Elborne