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Rossend Casanova, Casa Bloc

Rossend Casanova i Mandri has a PhD in art history from the University of Barcelona, where he won the 1998 Fundació Güell Prize. He currently works as a curator at the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona (Design Museum Barcelona), where he oversees the product design collection. The museum reopens in a new incarnation and a new building later this year. Rossend is an expert on medals. He works with the Art History and Contemporary Design research group (GRACMON) at the University of Barcelona and specialises in Art Nouveau decorative arts, particularly by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, on whose work he both wrote his thesis El Castell dels Tres Dragons (2009) and curated an exhibition of the same name. In 2002, he coordinated the International Gaudí Year. Since 2004, he has written about exhibitions and books for the Cultura/s supplement of La Vanguardia newspaper. He publishes and lectures widely and is currently preparing an exhibition on the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, called Portraits on Medals, which opens in February, 2015.

At the Iconic Houses Conference in Barcelona on November 25, Rossend Casanova will talk about the Apartment museum Casa Bloc, a restored dwelling in the 1930s complex by architects of the GATCPAC (Catalan Group of Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture) group.

Tell us about your relationship with significant houses
I got involved with them for the first time when in 2002 I took part in the project for the entrance pavilion at Gaudí’s Park Güell, which explains the monumental architecture, the decorative innovations and how the architect respected the nature of the place. While I was studying, I had direct contact with many houses, particularly in the Art Nouveau style, and I have published several articles about them. Thanks to my profession and my job at the museum, where I take care of the collection of industrial design, I have visited many more from the modern movement. The project to restore one of the rationalist 1930s Casa Bloc apartments in order to make it a museum is my most recent and rewarding activity in this area.

Do you have a favourite house?
Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí, because it is so extraordinary. It was redesigned in 1904, but it is so modern for its time.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your organisation right now?
We are about to open the new Museu del Disseny de Barcelona (the Design Museum Barcelona) on December 15, 2014. So the whole team is working very hard on this. It's going to be a huge event for the city. The museum will feature four new exhibitions on the decorative arts, fashion, graphic design and industrial design. I’m working on the last of these and it's going to be a unique and really significant collection of product design from the 1930s to the present day in Spain.

What do you hope will emerge from the upcoming Iconic Houses conference in Barcelona?
Just as with the London edition, I expect it’s going to be extremely interesting. I think it will be a good opportunity to make direct contact with lots of people from other countries, who share more or less the same interests and problems that we do. It’s a great chance to exchange experiences and ideas.

What 21st-century home deserves to be an Iconic House of the future?
For me, it’s an obvious choice: Villa Nurbs, the futurist house by the Catalan architect Enric Ruiz-Geli in Empuriabrava, on the beautiful Costa Brava coast.


Villa Nurbs, by architect Enric Ruiz-Geli in Empuriabrava