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Tile Tuesday: Parente to Parasol, Old Tradition-New Expression

Welcome to the second installment of the Tile Tuesday series! If you missed part one you can find it right here.  If there is one big takeaway from last week’s post it is that there are two sides to Sevilla, the constant play between old and new.

We were able to really dig in to both aspects on our Tile of Spain tour of Sevilla led by architect Gonzalo Cantos.

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Gonzalo Cantos- Tour guides were chosen for stylishness and sex appeal as well as knowledge 😉

 

As we explored not only tile but the culture from which it originates, we were constantly presented with old and new, separate but not entirely mutually exclusive.  What came before certainly influences the contemporary production.

Isabel Parente
Isabel Parente in her studio. Her custom glazes are made by hand.

 

Later in the series we will take a look at modern state-of-the- art tile production in Spain but today I want to introduce you to a true old world style artisan, living and working in Sevilla.  Meet Isabel Parente.  We visited the studio where she creates her handmade tile and custom glazes.  By the way, did you know that most ceramic glazes used today come from Spain?

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This intricate Moorish pattern was created in a mold

 

Isabel is mostly self-taught but briefly attended art school in Sevilla, followed by an internship in Perugia, Italy.  She demonstrated a few different traditional methods including hand painting.  Her practice includes the creation of new commissions as well as restoration.

Beautiful tile samples at Ceramica Isabel Parente
Beautiful tile samples at Ceramicá Isabel Parente

 

It is interesting to note that with old world techniques (she doesn’t even utilize a computer), Isabel is addressing the very current trend towards personalization.  You can’t get much more custom than what she does!

This is where the transformation happens. Isabel does not see the true color of her glazes until ceramics go through the firing process in the kiln.
This is where the transformation happens. Isabel does not see the true color of her glazes until ceramics go through the firing process in the kiln.

 

Just about a five minute walk from Isabel’s studio you will find Encarnacion Square, the oldest part of Seville and home to one of its most controversial residents, Metropol Parasol.  I posted our visit to Parasol in real-time.  If you were one of those who wondered exactly what this was, today’s your lucky day.

 

Metropol Parasol
Metropol Parasol claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world at 490′ by 230′ and approximately 85′ high.

Encarnacion Square was home to a neighborhood market starting in the 19th century up until the 1970s when the area began to languish.  Excavation to create a parking lot in the 1990s uncovered ancient Roman ruins below!

 

Ancient Roman ruins below the Metropol Parasol
Ancient Roman ruins below the Metropol Parasol

It wasn’t until 2004 that the city decided to develop the property. Architect Jurgen Mayer-Hermann was selected and his Metropol Parasol was completed in 2011 at approximately double the 50 million Euro budgeted for the project. Part of the expense was due to technical flaws in his design that had to be overcome.  This paired with the fact that its unexpected dramatic  presence rubs “traditionalists” the wrong way, is what makes the Parasol a continuing subject of controversy.

 

One "mushroom" of the Parasol joins the trees to provide much needed shade from the Spanish sun.
One “mushroom” of the Parasol joins the trees to provide much needed shade from the Spanish sun.

Here’s my another perspective.  Mayer-Hermann’s inspiration came from the cathedral vaults of nearby Seville cathedral as well as from the large shade producing ficus trees of a neighboring park. In fact shade from the sweltering summer sun was one of his major objectives. In this way it does reference its location quite well.  The project is an excellent example of the modern Spanish architecture of undulating curves and waves.  Sevillanos refer to it as “Las Setas”(The Mushrooms).  Giant “waffles” are made of birch hardwood with a polyurethane finish.

 

I felt cradled inside this giant structure. High but safe!
I felt cradled inside this giant structure. High but safe!

The excavation and restoration of the ruins below continue.  On level zero you will find an Antiquarium where you can walk among old Roman buildings. The Parasol above is wholly supported on 8 points so as not to disturb the ruins below. On level one there is, once again, a market. The upper levels house restaurants and a meandering walkway offering various views of the city below.

I will say that because of the design of the structure, I felt safely embraced on these walkways, sort of nice if you have a fear of heights!

This puts things in perspective.  Photo by Fernando Alda
This puts things in perspective. Photo by Fernando Alda

So what’s your take?  Ugly intrusion or a dramatic blending of old and new concepts exemplifying the new Spanish architecture?

Before we leave Seville I want to share my pics with you.   In addition to what I have written about here, and in part one, photos include: Plaza de España, Alfonso XIII Hotel, Royal Alcazar of Seville and Seville Cathedral.  Now go grab some sangria, kick back and enjoy the sights.

Next Tile Tuesday:  On to Valencia and what I learned about tile and trends I saw at Cevisama 2015

 

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Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Gloria is a kitchen and bath cabinetry designer with AKBD certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. She has also served on the Florida Treasure Coast Chapter's Board of Directors as the VP of Communications. Her work has appeared on This Old House as well as in Florida Design Magazine, K+BB Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. She is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Remodeling Your Kitchen, Illustrated, as well as a freelanced writer contributing occasionally to the Sun Sentinel in the area of kitchen design. She is a proud member of the Blanco Design Council and the illustrious Brizo Blogger 19.

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