I’ve been briefed by the wild-eyed taxi driver on the state of the nation. “There’s no industry apart from tourism, and that’s disappearing. People come here and they sleep on the beach because they don’t have the money for a hotel room.” He gesticulates using both hands to suggest the outline of a sleeping, poverty-stricken tourist. We swerve across three lanes of traffic and Barcelona comes close to losing another tourist in the process.
Barcelona is a beautiful labyrinth. Astrid Stavro made the city her home after finishing an MA at the Royal College of Art in London about five years ago. “I’d spent nine years living in London, most of my close friends had come and gone, I was living in a flat in Ladbroke Grove and it got to the point where I realised that if I died my rotting body would probably be found a month later,” she laughs. Time to leave.
Just prior to this frankly depressing self-assessment Stavro had achieved a major success with Art of the Grid, a project conceived by Stavro and her classmate Birgit Pfisterer as a final project and, more importantly, as a filler between leaving college and finding a job. “We knew that it was going to be hard after having the time of our lives at college,” Stavro recalls, “so we developed something that would keep us busy. Our tutors hated the fact that it was commercial, though. We thought it would probably sell to about three design freaks and that would be it—we were very surprised when we sold over 3,000 copies.”