It was my pleasure to be invited last week to the Madrid Design Festival due to my position as Past President of the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design).

Unlike London and Paris, the Madrid Design Festival run by La Fabrica, is only in it’s third year. The event included all of the disciplines of design, ranging from architecture to graphic design, and interior design. The event was held in a variety of venues across the city including exhibition halls, museums and architectural practices.

The programme was packed and it is impossible to write about everything, so I have just picked out some of my highlights.

The first evening, we attended the Design Awards and cocktail party. One of the recipients of the awards was Giorgetto Giugiaro. Giorgetto has designed some of the most iconic car designs for Alfa Romeo, Maserati, BMW, Lotus, Lancia, and Fiat. He also designed the DMC Delorean car which was used in the Back to the Future films. That is just a few examples of the cars he designed but what you may not realise, he was also responsible for the Nikon camera, firearms such as the Beretta, the Ducati motorcycle, Seiko watches, and even a sewing machine.  His speech, given in English thankfully, was very entertaining.

The next morning, we had a private visit to the Centro Cultural Fernan Gomez. One of the exhibitions we saw was by Patricia Urquiola. She is a Spanish Architect who also studied in Italy. One of her Architectural projects is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona. She started developing furniture in 1998 and has designed pieces for Cappellini and Cassini but has also designed for many more brands. The furniture exhibition we saw included pieces that had all been made from recycled materials. Truly inspiring!

We then moved onto the Museo de Artes Decorativas.

We were lucky to have a curator to talk us through the pieces we did see, one of which being the prototype for the Barcelona chair by Mies van de Rohe. The interior of the building was beautiful and it was a shame that this was such a fleeting visit.

After lunch, we visited various architect’s practices, all of whom had completed some iconic projects. One of these practices were focusing on kitchens and they had a very interesting prototype of a kitchen that was a metre by a metre. The kitchen comes  flat packed and then you purchase the appliances from Ikea and just slide them into the space.

The last installation of the day was the biggest living wall I have ever seen. It had a light display that was moving in time to music, illuminating each of the planting groups in a random way. It was powered by a fully electric Mini car which was interesting. Mini was also kindly supplying all of the cars to ferry the delegates around the city.

We then visited an everyman cinema which was unexpected! Its previous incarnation had been a porn cinema and two Madrid architects had taken it over and had given it a makeover. Ben Hur was playing on the screen which I am sure was very tame against the films that used to play there. The only nod to it’s previous use was some film posters in the bar on the first floor. One actor that stood out was Horst Bucholz. For those of you who don’t know who this is, have a look at the cast list of the Magnificent Seven!

The next day we visited an exhibition of the work by Francisco Javier Saenz de Oiza at the Museo ICO. All three children of the Architect were on-hand to take us around the exhibition and explain the exhibits. All of the siblings are also Architects and learnt at their father’s knee. Francisco who was born in 1918 was considered an influential part in the modernist movement in Spain. He taught at the school of Architecture in Madrid and subsequently became its Director.

We then visited the Matador private members club in Madrid. The private members club is a rather new concept in Spain and it was a pleasure to visit and sample lunch in one of their private dining rooms. The club is housed in a beautiful historic apartment in the heart of the city.

As you can see, the event is truly inspiring for people in all forms of design, and as it is such a new location, it has so much to offer. I hope to attend next year and see more of what they have in store. I will also be attending London Design Festival on 8th March this year to gain even more inspirational insights from those within the design world.