Barcelona is the guest city at the Beijing Design Week (BJDW), Asia's most important event in the areas of design, architecture and urban planning. This platform, considered a highly strategic one with regards to a cultural and commercial exchange between the East and the West of the aforementioned disciplines, is one of the best showcases to present the Catalan capital's design and architecture to the Asian market.
Over the course of one week, the BJDW will bring together millions of people: last year they received close to 5 million visitors and more than 1800 designers and design institutions from around the world, generating a business volume of 6.58 billion CNY. More than 200 media outlets, both general and specialized, from around the world covered the event.
Barcelona: Guest City
Starting in 2011 the BJDW has invited a city to showcase its potential in the world of creation and design. Past cities have been: London (2011) Milan (2012), and Amsterdam (2013). This year, as a result of Ramon Llull Institute’s (IRL) participation in past events, Barcelona has been chosen as the Guest City, a decision that has far-reaching implications for the city's visibility on a global scale.
This project is an initiative of the Ramon Llull Institute, a consortium comprised of the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council, which have coordinated the effort, and is a result of their collaboration with the Cultural Institute of Barcelona (ICUB), the Department of Economy, Business and Occupation, the Department of Urban Housing of the Barcelona City Council, as well as the Barcelona Center of Design (BCD), the Catalan Government’s ACCIÓ office in Beijing, and other Catalan institutions and businesses.
A Cultural Exchange and New Business Opportunities
Barcelona's participation as the BJDW's guest city and the arrival of designers, institutions and businesses to the city does not only have as its objective the establishment of a cultural exchange with the Chinese capital, but it also facilitates the introduction of Barcelona's commercial offerings to the Chinese market.
The objective of Barcelona's presence as the guest city at the BJDW is to bring the talent and potential of Barcelona's design, architecture and contemporary production closer to the Chinese public. Just as important, it hopes to favor both the long and short term contacts and connections between Barcelona and Beijing, which will open up channels of both collaboration and economic and cultural development. With this is mind, a wide range of activities, high-ranking institutional meetings and a commercial mission have been organized.
Exhibitions, Conferences and Participatory Activities
The guest city's programming will occur in different places around the Chinese capital, and will include: 5 exhibitions, 17 conferences, more than 20 activities and different types of events, the participation of design and architecture schools from both cities, and a business delegation.
The Barcelona Pavilion is located in the neighborhood, 751 District, a center for Beijing's art, and it’s located in one of the most emblematic buildings of the district, the "79 Tank". The pavilion will hold the exhibition, "Barcelona, a future inspired by design", which presents the city as a complete ecosystem of design and creativity. The exhibition includes a large format audiovisual presentation and more than a hundred informational sections that invite the visitor to discover and experience Barcelona from different perspectives: architectural heritage and contemporary architecture, urban planning, graphic and product design, interior design and fashion, new technology applied to design, cultural institutions and buildings, heritage and festivals, etc. To be highlighted in this exhibition is the selection of more than 30 objects that are representative of present-day design, as well as an homage to 20th century Catalan design classics. Exit Design is in charge of the exhibition's design.
BBMade will also be present in the 79 Tank, a project from the Catalan Institute for Advanced Architecture that, alongside students from design schools in Beijing, will construct a large structure comprised of 3D-printed pieces cut by a laser, using local Chinese materials like bamboo and rattan.
The 79 Tank also has an auditorium and a meeting space where other cultural and economic activities will take place over the course of the week. Among others are: the Asia House Dialogues, which will discuss entrepreneurial initiatives in a global context; a meeting organized by the Barcelona Tourism Office with Chinese tour operators; the presentation of the international design competition, Jump the Gap, organized by the Roca company; an experimental workshop to promote creative thinking in the world of design and gastronomy, organized by Elisava in collaboration with the El Bulli DNA challenge, film projections and a conference about Gaudí and Modernisme.
Invited guests from Barcelona will also be present in other BJDW events and conferences, like the New York Times Forum, the Smart Cities Forum and the conferences organized for the 751 International Design Festival. Barcelona's invited designers, architects and authorities will be actively present at all of these discussions and incubators of ideas.
The most alternative creation hailing from Barcelona will be located in the Dashilar district, a traditional Hutong neighborhood close to Tiananmen Square. Dashilar is one of the oldest districts in Beijing, as well as one of the liveliest and continually transformative areas of the city. The contribution in Dashilar is a project by Gerard Altaió, a Catalan designer residing in Beijing with the collaboration of Oscar Guayabero. The objective of his work is to establish an exchange and creative dialogue with the local community. The program in Dashilar includes three projects: Barcelona House, "Allioli" and Meet the Twin.
The "Barcelona House" is comprised of a 15 small exhibitions that showcase the creative "DNA" of the city. "Allioli" is a group of works that include different interdisciplinary projects that explore the boundaries of design, like the mapping of Telenoiika; the project, "Map of Culinary Process", is a result of a collaboration with Ferran Adrià and the collective, Bestiario; and an open-air film series will project films that showcase Barcelona as a reference. "Meet the Twin" is an exhibition and a workshop at Dashilar, and conference series that will take place at UCCA (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art), District 798, one of the city's main catalysts for contemporary culture on an international scale. In Meet the Twin, five design studios from Barcelona will dialogue with five from Beijing with whom they share a similar point of view in conceiving design and the creative process. This project has been commissioned by the Festival OFFF - Let's feed the future.
On view in the Dashilar district there will also be two exhibitions about architecture and urban planning: one about the remodeling of the Santa Catarina Market from EMBT studio, and another about the ephemeral architecture project, "Re Set" from the Enric Miralles Foundation.
The Cervantes Institute of Beijing will also be presenting their exhibition, "Xi’an- Barcelona in Beijing: Paper Roads, Rivers of Ink” from the Catalan artist, Perico Pastor.
Design and creativity in the world of gastronomy will also be present in the cultural descent on Beijing. The program includes a gastronomic event at the Migas Restaurant, which offers Catalan cuisine in Beijing, and in honor of Barcelona's participation in the BJDW has specially created the "Barcelona Menu" with the collaboration of different chefs around the city.
A delegation of business and design studios from Barcelona will travel to Beijing to make contact with Chinese businesses and professionals. This mission has been coordinated by the Barcelona Center for Design (BCD), with support from ACCIÓ, Agency for Corporative Competitiveness of the Government of Catalonia, and Barcelona Activa, Agency for Local Development of the Barcelona City Council.
The Horse of Barcelona, a Bridge Between Cultures
Barcelona's presence as the guest city at the BJDW will include a unique element: the Horse of Barcelona, a street installation from the theatre company, Antigua i Barbuda. This gigantic mobile structure is connected to the Catalan tradition of parades on horseback, while at the same time also linked to the Chinese horoscope, which this year celebrates the Year of the Horse. The Horse of Barcelona will be exhibited in Beijing during 10 days and will perform a total of Turisme de Barcelona with music and dance throughout the Chinese capital.
Air China, the Sponsor
Air China is the primary sponsor of Barcelona's participation in BJDW 2014. The participation of the Chinese company, which recently inaugurated a direct route from Beijing to Barcelona, is clearly indicative of the mutual interest of both cities, as well as the growing need to connect the two.
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