Contemporary European Landscapes: London, Paris, Barcelona

(“Homentaje a la Barceloneta” by Rebecca Horn, one of the sculptures along La Barceloneta, Barcelona)

It is a wonderful thing to be able to travel across Europe, experiencing the unique historyand culture each city has to offer. Margherita Bagiacchi, a Professor in the Interior Design department at Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, held three lectures on contemporary European landscapes in the cities of London, Paris, and Barcelona.

Every pen was poised as the class stepped into these three cities with a designer’s eye. It is a useful and important tool for not only design students, but any traveler to gain a unique understanding and appreciation for architecture and design. Traveling with the eye of an architect in mind offers a new perspective and approach to any city and gives a template for any future travels.

London is a hub of culture and rich history that cleverly combines the historical and contemporary architecture throughout the city. Stepping away from the popular landmarks and seeking the road less traveled can lead to many interesting and inspiring designs hidden within the 32 Boroughs of London. One example are The Serpentine Galleries, comprised of two contemporary art galleries that have hosted, each year since 2000, a world-renowned temporary Pavillon commissioned to a significant architect. The class was shown three different pavilions that have been exhibited, each bringing a different style, material, and aesthetic to the space. It is a breeding ground of architectural thought and experimentation where anyone can learn and enjoy today’s innovations.

(Camden Street markets, London)

Paris, a major center of art, literature, and fashion, is well-known for its 19th century architecture and large boulevards. Being the city of love and light, with the iconic Eiffel tower, is an attribute associated with Paris that draws people from all over the world. A more contemporary version of Paris also thrives and is constantly changing through innovative designs and architecture. Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Gianfranco Franchini are three architects that exemplify this ever-changing innovation, creating the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1977. The Pompidou inspired the world through its ingenious exposed structure of brightly colored piping that turned the architectural world inside out. It has become a center of cultural exchanges in all different fields as well as a place of community and sociability in the heart of Paris.

Barcelona, a vibrant and global city of culture and learning that has pulled the interest of many leading architects over the years. Barcelona is a huge urban area with all different types of design and architecture within its ten districts. One very interesting project is Ex-Designer, started by Martí Guixé, a bar that began with a completely empty interior. Once the space is completed, however, everything within the bar will have been made by 3D printing, down to the silverware. It is exactly this contemporary perception of design that allows for new thought and conversations.

Professor Bagiacchi’s lectures can teach all designers and travelers new and useful tools to apply whenever and wherever they go. It is simple to find the most famous historical monuments, but it takes a bit more research to discover what can enhance an experience. She urged the class at the beginning of each lecture to not be a tourist but a traveler. I had never thought about the significance of that statement before, seeing travel mostly through the eyes of Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor. Shifting my gaze towards design has made me eager to see more, to be curious, and to learn what great design can look like.

When in a new city, take advantage of the local architects and designers, maybe even ask to meet them, or see their studio. The mind of architects, designers, and travelers are quite similar in that they are curious to learn. They want to be inspired so they can inspire others.

Here is a glimpse:

Find what inspires you! “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?” -Zaha Hadid

Share your own design discoveries on the #ldmgrandtour google map at: or hashtag your photos with #ldmstudents #ldmflorence #ldmlectures #acrosseurope #acrosseuropeldm #ldmcitylovers #ldmgrandtour #urbanscapes #urbanscapesldm. Have no fear, you don’t have to use them all, but in order to spread the design love, the hashtags and map will culminate new places of design and architecture for us all to explore. Furthermore, Professor Bagiacchi’s lectures will continue to uncover both architectural and cultural issues of the lifestyles from city to city. Be there or be square.


julianaJuliana Inglese is a full time student at Marist-LDM in Florence working towards her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and Art history. Writing for the Interior Design Department blog allows her to not only utilize her passion for design and travel, but also encourages in-depth research and discovery about her fields of study. After graduation, her goal is to work for an established sustainable design firm on projects around the world.