The Artist Documenting Barcelona’s Disappearing Signage

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Grafica de les Rambles: The Signs of Barcelona© 2017 Louise Fili Ltd

Graphic artist Louise Fili takes to the streets of the Catalonian capital to capture the typography adorning its walls

Grafica de les Rambles: The Signs of Barcelona is a new photo book by graphic artist Louise Fili, who has been in love with the Catalonian capital ever since her first visit. “On my first trip to Barcelona in the 1970s I was enchanted by Modernisme, the city’s own brand of Art Nouveau, which had influenced the entire urban landscape,” she explains in the book’s introduction. After leaving her position as art director at Pantheon Books in 1989, Fili established a namesake typographic studio at which she often takes inspiration from Europe’s signage, incorporating beautifully carved stonework, stained glass, mosaics, and gilded placards into her practice.

Subsequently, the artist set out to document the historic typography unique to the cities of Italy and Paris, before turning her lens to Barcelona, where the fonts which once distinguished shops, cafés and local businesses are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. In archiving these façades through photography, Fili hopes to preserve the charm so emblematic of the city’s colourful past. Architectural development is inevitable – and vital. Yet, as Fili demonstrates, recording the historical landscape is of equal importance. Additionally, her snapshots make for an aesthetically pleasing series to scroll through on a Monday morning. 

Grafica de les Rambles: The Signs of Barcelona by Louise Fili will be published on September 26, 2017, by Princeton Architectural Press.