Living in Barcelona

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Living in Barcelona

Though originally from Sweden, for many years Klas Ernflo has made his home in Spain. And not just any part of Spain (though a part for how much longer?) but Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, with a rich artistic and cultural heritage all its own. We decided to ask Klas about his adopted home and what attracted him to it.

How long have you lived in Barcelona now?

I have lived here since 2001 but I went back to live in Sweden for one-and-a-half years in the middle, so 16 years. A long time!

What drew you to the city in the first place?

I think Barcelona felt attractive because it’s next to the sea and a little warmer than Stockholm. I came here quite naive, I didn’t know too much and I knew nobody here. But what I liked a lot, and what I still like, is that it feels very spontaneous compared to where I come from and a little less obedient to rules. The warm weather I could easily live without, I miss the cold a bit.

Had you always intended on settling here?

Not at all, I just came after graduating from design school in Stockholm to spend what I thought would be maybe a year, over the winter. I stayed a little longer, I got a more satisfying job (I started to work in a design studio) and I met my partner.

Where do you choose to spend your time?

I stay mostly near my studio/home in Sants, a part of town near the main train station. It doesn’t have any major attractions, but it has everything you need in your daily life within a few minutes – a great food market, hardware stores, tons of bars and restaurants, a post office just around the corner from me or anything you might need nearby, too. It’s like living in a village. I see mostly the same people on the streets every day. And it’s very calm.

Miró and Tàpies worked as both artists and sculptors. Do you see yourself as following in a tradition of Barcelonan art?

No, I wish I could say that! I like them a lot, specially Miró. I studied graphic design and have worked many years with design and typography, so I think more of the Catalan artist Joan Brossa, who did a mix of graphic design and Dadaism.  I don’t dare to compare myself to him, but I relate to the humour and simplicity in his images.  

Has the fact that the city is famous for architecture as art, in the works of Gaudi and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, had an effect on your thinking?

I think I draw more directly on Swedish folk art, or folk art in general, when it comes to ornaments than on Catalan Modernism (Catalan Art Nouveau). But I do find it inspiring and I went not long ago to see Casa Vicens by Gaudí that is now open as a museum, and it is absolutely fantastic. But now thinking about it, the link to design as art is on my mind a lot.

Could you now imagine living anywhere else?

I still like Stockholm a lot. I could imagine living there.

A selection of work by Klas is shown here.