Barcelona and design are like cheese and wine: best friends forever! The city has a long history of design, and this aspect forms an important part of plans for the city’s future development. The aim is to make Barcelona a “smart city”, an intelligent and creative metropolis at the cutting edge of innovation and technology.
The city council recently decided to create a space dedicated to design, in the form of the Design Museum (also known as the Disseny Hub or MHUB), housed in an impressive building with clean, crisp lines and defined geometric shapes.
More than just a museum, the MHUB has become a symbol of the redevelopment of the Glòries quarter. It sits alongside Jean Nouvel’s Agbar Tower and the new Encants flea market, rebuilt along modern and daring lines.
The Design Museum’s collections
The museum’s collection is made up of articles from a number of other exhibition venues across the city: the museum of decorative arts, the ceramics museum, the textile museum and the graphic art museum.
The museum focuses on the design, creation, production and use of objects over the centuries.
The Barcelona Design Museum includes 4 permanent and 1 temporary exhibitions. The permanent collections include:
- From the World to the Museum. Product Design, Cultural Heritage
- Extraordinary! Collections of Decorative and Author-Centred Art (3rd – 20th Century)
- Dressing the Body: Silhouettes and Fashion (1550-2015)
- Graphic design: from Trade to Profession (1940-1980)
From the World to the Museum: Product Design, Cultural Heritage
The first exhibition is devoted to industrial and domestic design. It focuses on design in its functional, day-to-day forms: from tables and lamps to cars, domestic appliances and accessories for daily use.
Extraordinary! Collections of Decorative and Author-Centred Art (3rd – 20th Century)
The second floor is given over to the decorative arts in Catalonia, and houses a varied range of luxurious products: ceramics, pottery, fabrics, furniture, glassware, clocks… and even a carriage!
Dressing the Body: Silhouettes and Fashion (1550-2015)
This exhibition considers the way in which the human body is transformed and set off by clothing. Take a fascinating journey through the history of fashion to see the ways in which silhouettes have been refined, made freer and taken on new volumes.
You’ll see how ways of dressing respond to the needs, social norms and moral demands of each period.
The exhibition looks at fashions from five different aspects:
- Volume: structure, cut and fabrics
- Compression: corsets, belts and bras
- Elongation: heels, hats, hairdos and jackets
- The “second skin” effect: tights, gloves, bodies and elasticated fabrics
- Exhibition: transparent fabrics, short dresses, plunging necklines
Graphic Design: from Trade to Profession (1940-1980)
This exhibition looks at poster art and advertising design, and at the emergence of a new type of professional: the graphic designer.
The posters on display are from both local and international sources (France, Switzerland, the US and the UK), showing the strength of foreign influences on graphic design in Spain and charting the history of the genre.
Other areas of the Barcelona Design Museum
Museum-Apartment at the Casa Bloc, Vivienda 1/11
The museum organises guided visits to the museum-apartment at “Casa Bloc”, an icon of rationalist architecture in Barcelona (1932-1939), designed by the architects Sert, Torres Clavé and Subirana.
Casa Bloc is a residential building, commissioned by the Catalan government in order to house the city’s poorest workers with dignity, in a setting adapted to modern times. One of the apartments has been restored to its original state and is open for guided visits.
The Design Museum also plays host to temporary exhibitions on the lower ground floor. Find out what’s on by visiting the MHUB website.
Our simple relationship with technology – Mobile Week Barcelona
On the occasion of the Mobile World Congress that takes place in Barcelona from February 25, for the last three years, the week before the congress it’s held the Mobile Week.
Many events are organized, including this year’s exhibition “Our simple relationship with technology” in the design museum. The exhibition includes workpieces of some well known artists, it aims to show the relationship between art, science and technology.
- When? From February 14 to March 16, 2019
- How much? Free
Overall impressions of the Barcelona Design Museum
- The museum is an interesting place to visit, although the graphic design section is a little disappointing: it only shows posters, and a little more variety would be nice. That said, it’s interesting to compare it to the other exhibitions, particularly the one on decorative arts. The main strength of the museum lies in offering a highly varied experience, with different collections designed to be compared and contrasted with each other.
- The building itself is an enjoyable place to explore. It offers great views over the Poblenou quarter and houses a nice, eco-friendly café. There’s also a well-designed area for children.
Barcelona Design Museum: accessibility
- The museum is wheelchair-accessible.
- Wheelchairs are also available to borrow.
Barcelona Design Museum: ticket prices
- Full price: €6 for the permanent exhibitions
- Concessions: €4 for those aged 16-29, over-65s, visitors with a tour bus ticket, families (maximum 2 adults, including one parent, and at least one child under 16)
- Free entry every Sunday from 3-8pm, all day on the first Sunday of the month, 12th February and 24th September. Free for under-16s, holders of the Barcelona Card, certified individuals accompanying a disabled visitor, and journalists.
- Tickets are vaild for 2 days during the 6 months following purchase.
- Visits to the Casa Bloc must be arranged separately and are held twice weekly (Saturdays at 11am and 12.30pm). Booking ahead is essential and can be done via this link. The visit is in Catalan or Spanish and costs €3/person.
Design Museum: opening times
- Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 8pm
- Closed on Mondays (except public holidays)
- Closed 1st January, 1st May, 24th June and 25th December.
Enjoy your visit!