Barcelona Cultura

'I’m inspired by everything that surrounds me'. Interview with Beth Galí

We interviewed renowned designer, and architect, Beth Galí. After having significantly shaped Barcelona's urban landscape through innovative projects and influential roles in municipal planning, Beth shares with us her vision of how she perceives design today.

Beth Galí, a prominent figure in architecture and design, emerged from the '80s Generation of architects. Her career spans diverse city projects, including Barcelona's urban expansion to the sea, transforming historical areas into pedestrian zones, and crafting innovative public spaces. Galí held key roles in design associations and earned several prestigious awards, notably for her LamparaAlta streetlamp and contributions to Barcelona's urban development. Her wide-ranging career began in 1966, evolving from designing plastic waste paper bins to substantial roles in municipal architecture and urban planning, leaving a profound mark on Barcelona's landscape and architectural heritage.

How did you start this profession?

In my father's furniture and interior design office.

As a creative, designer, architect and landscaper, could you share with us what encouraged you to follow this professional career?

Working in the family office and combining industrial design studies at the Eina school, I was encouraged to continue. When I finished the industrial design courses I started architecture.

Where do you find inspiration?

I'm inspired by everything around me. I combine my profession with music. I play two instruments with quite fluidity, piano and cello. I assume that in some respects it also influences my way of doing things.

Is there an artist or designer for whom you feel admiration?

There are so many that I admire, that I could not make a detailed list here!! But as I often travel to Venice, I recognize that the Tintorettos, the Tiziano attributed to Giorgione and the Tiepolo de la Scuola de San Rocco fascinate me whenever I visit them again. Modern and contemporary architects, designers and artists, depending on the time, I admire more than others. In architecture, honest attitudes awaken my interest, works that show a certain serenity. I escape the stridencies that often distract us and cause some distance from the perception of the work itself. I am interested in discovering artists and architects who change the canons without falling into banalities. It's not easy. Currently, there is a lot of formal noise with the appearance of software that makes everything possible.

Your career spans several functions, from architect to designer and landscape designer, how have these disciplines influenced your philosophy and design approach?

These are three activities that intertwine with each other. For architecture I am very useful in my beginnings as an industrial designer, and as a landscape designer I am very useful in architecture.

How did your initial training in architecture influence your approach to urban projects and city planning?

The fact of combining architecture and design serves me to think following a very detailed process and to be attentive to the minimum details. I understand urban spaces, landscaping and planning as an architectural project.

As a woman with a significant presence in design, could you share the inspiration behind your work and the messages you expect me to convey?

Industrial design, architecture and urban design should help and improve people's daily work in many ways, without forgetting, of course, the aesthetic sense that is the most personal.

HERE WE ARE! Women in Design. 1900-Today not only celebrates the achievements of women in design, but also highlights their working conditions. Could you share with us your opinion on the challenges that women designers have historically faced and how they are addressed today?

The involvement of women in the world of work in general is a subject that has been discussed a great deal and I am afraid that I will not say much that has not been said. The first women who began working as designers and architects faced a world – probably not unknown to them – essentially masculine. I assume that at one point they asked themselves why I cannot devote myself to this too? The answer was to take action. But from these beginnings almost a century ago. Currently, designers and architects work normally. You only have to see the design or architecture schools where more than 50% are women. The problem is whether their work is sufficiently publicized. There are still many people who do not know that behind that object with which they coexist daily or behind the buildings they inhabit, there is the thought of a woman. Therefore, it is not necessary to relax. Exposures such as HERE WE ARE! are necessary to visualize the work of women who work in areas that, in the past, were only carried out by men.

Could you tell us a little about your pieces in the exhibition?

We have chosen the Aladdin furniture. It was my first furniture design and won an ADI-FAD Industrial Design Award. These were years in which everything had to be stackable, composable, easy to transport, etc. They were premises that characterized the good design. The Aladino furniture consists of several pieces that are articulated acquiring various formations. When closed it forms a compact piece and when opened it can be transformed into a dividing library of spaces. I thought it could be a very useful piece of furniture for small spaces. Very few were sold. I think there were four.

As for the evolution of the design industry and women, what progress do you see or expect in the future?

We have entered a constantly evolving hyper technified world, full of opportunities to undertake new objectives with which to respond to the needs of today's society. These are radically different objectives from those we managed when we started our professions, 40 or 50 years ago. Therefore, I can only encourage women who have chosen design or architecture as the main profession, to explore the world that has opened up to them and offer new ways of thinking and entrepreneurship. I think that's what we did.

Ajuntament de Barcelona