The third edition of the Madrid Design Festival was a wonderful mix of interior design, architecture and fashion, with the environment and history at the centre. Both Spanish and international designers attended the festival, which highlighted the design trends of the future.
Animated lights glide over the vertical garden of the Caixa Forum art museum on Madrid’s Paseo del Prado, creating the illusion of insects crawling over the natural green wall.
We are a group of people gathered together one evening in the dark, where the light in the garden is accompanied by the sound of birds chirping, leaves crackling, insects buzzing and soft, rushing river water coming from the speakers in the square.
The video art installation, entitled Electric Green, was created for the Madrid Design Festival 2020 by design and architecture studio MAYICE, in collaboration with the Madrid Design Festival’s main sponsor, MINI Electric. It will highlight the importance of preserving nature in cities so we can reduce CO2 consumption.
The artwork has been created with the least possible use of power and materials. During the day, you can listen to natural sounds played by the MINI electric car parked in the square, and in the evening, all the lights in the square are switched off so you can also enjoy the light show in the walled garden.
Sustainable cube dwelling in tulipwood
At the other end of the city, an eight-metre-tall wooden pavilion lights up in the darkness by the river at the entrance to the Casa de Campo park at Madrid Rio. The pavilion was created from American tulipwood in The tour continues to Madrid’s river, where a series of wooden cubes are assembled into a house and illuminate the darkness in the installation MultiPly.
The pavilion is carbon neutral and created from American tulipwood in a US collaboration between the Waugh Thistleton Architects studio, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP in response to one of the biggest challenges of our time: the growing need for more housing and the urgent need to tackle climate change. Their solution is housing in cube combinations in sustainable materials.
Both children and adults enjoy climbing the high steps and moving around the maze-like pavilion. The cubes overlap and intertwine to make us reflect on how we design our houses and cities.
Travelling with a Spanish design icon
The Spanish architect and designer, Patricia Urquiola, is one of the greatest international designers and has won numerous awards for her work.
In 2020, the Madrid Design Festival has dedicated a huge area for a retrospective exhibition at the Fernán Gómez cultural centre in Madrid’s Salamanca district to Patricia Urquiola’s design work. Inspired by Salvador Dalí’s painting Nature Morte Vivante, the exhibition focuses on both industrial design and craftsmanship and the intersection between them.
Patricia Urquiola’s love of colour is reflected throughout the exhibition, as is her focus on sustainability, which is ubiquitous in her use.
The huge exhibition includes everything from furniture, rugs, bathtubs and pictures to vases, jars and coffee sets. Most of it is gathered in stillebens, inspired by Dalí’s work, and we get through concepts, projects, issues of gender and pollution as well as the use of recycled materials.
The exhibition shows how creatively Urquiola, who now lives and works in Milan, shapes and uses materials – and not least – gives recycled materials a fresh look.
Spanish cultural history in avant-garde fashion
In Madrid’s Conde Duque cultural centre, Madrid-based fashion brand OTEYZA has invited you to a mini-design show entitled Forma pasajera del viento (passing wind shapes) in a universe of prism-shaped white screens. The show is a constant dialogue with the wind, where active and passive forms are portrayed and converge in a constant dissolution between space and form.
– We create avant-garde fashion in luxury materials with references to Spanish cultural history, says Paul García de Oteyza, who together with Caterina Pañeda are the designers behind OTEYZA.
The tailored clothing is at once classic in its clear references to Spanish fashion and cultural history and super modern in its reinterpretations. OTEYZA primarily designs clothing for men, which fashion-conscious women also like to wear, as well as tailoring clothing for both genders. The clothes are created in luxury materials such as Egyptian cotton, wool, silk and tweed.
OTEYZA is among the hippest designers in Spain right now and worth keeping an eye on.
In 2018, OTEYZA was awarded the National Fashion Award and the international fashion industry took notice of the Spanish brand at the 2019 Madrid Fashion Show. The show was danced in modern flamenco by ballet dancers from the Spanish National Ballet and it is the most watched fashion show on social media ever.
A trip to the cult cinema
The trip also took in the Sala Equis cinema in Madrid’s La Latina district, which has gained cult status in recent years. Sala Equis is set in a historic building that once housed Madrid’s last pornographer.
Today, the cinema has been renovated with respect for its beautiful architecture, and the décor also makes strong references to its time as a porn cinema.
In the cinema you still sit in red plush seats, surrounded by red plush walls. The bar has a “sultry” atmosphere with red and yellow neon lights and old porn movie posters hanging in the hallway.
The historic decor is combined with raw walls, large palm trees, benches and beach chairs in the large bar, where free films are shown on the big screen. On weekends, there are often concerts and it’s a hip place to meet for a drink.
Want more design tips? So read also which other Spanish designers you should keep an eye on here
Madrid Design Festival
- The Madrid Design Festival is held every year in February.
- The festival has over 200 activities, mainly exhibitions, installations, as well as a number of prizes awarded each year.
- Madrid Design Festival was held for the first time in 2017
- The festival is organised by La Fabrica, a cultural organiser and art book publisher.
The trip to Madrid Design Festival
- There are daily direct flights from Copenhagen to Madrid. The journey takes about 3.5 hours. Check departures and prices here (advertising link)
- I always stay at the design hotel Only You Atocha when I’m at the design festival in Madrid. The hotel is centrally located, right next to Madrid Central Station, which is served by the airport bus. The rooms are lovely and I look forward to breakfast every day.
You can read my review of Only You Atocha and find more tips for hotels in Madrid city centre here