Alhambra 

The Spanish Craft Beer brand Alhambra and I have something in common: the unhurried, slowly creation processes. Our collaboration emerged with the aim of exploring our shared philosophy and materialize it into an advertising campaign and an exclusive original installation that is publicly exhibited during June of 2017 on Fuencarral street no. 117.  The name of the project could not be more revealing: “Para. Mira. Toca” (“Stop. Stare. Touch”). This is the third project to be included within the contemporary creation platform by Cervezas Alhambra, after “Hay cosas que necesitan tiempo” by Raquel Rodrigo and “Parar” by Martín Azúa.

The starting point of the project was developing a material that could be materialized into an object which could express and contain both the concept of the brand and the spirit of the Alhambra monument. The resulting material is then shaped into geometric forms, a tridimensional typography for the words “Para. Mira. Toca”. The letters compose the advertising campaign and also come together to create a unique installation that invites the people passing by to discover and interact with it.

Alhambra Concept

The project is a contemporary reinterpretation of the ceramic glazed walls of the Alhambra monument. The material of the Arabic tiles, its motives, the vivid colours of the lattices and its geometry (based on the circle) have been a source of inspiration for this new material.

The starting point was searching for the most object-like nature of the beer brand, the Alhambra glass bottle, which becomes one of the raw materials for this new material. The careful design of the bottle and the connection of the beer brand with the Alhambra monument allowed us to play with double readings throughout the making of.

Both elements, the bottle and the monument, are geometrically based on a circular shape, that will be constantly evoked on the surface of the terrazzo, as a result of cutting the material.  One can also recognize the main colours of the glazed walls of the Alhambra monument that are replicated in the colour of the terrazzo that the bottles are filled in with.

The project shares with the monument its raw materials: the existent glass within the glazed ceramic and the use of cement as binder. The mixture and the coexistence of different materials remind us the famous Venetian Terrazzo, a composition of cement charged with marble fragments, and the fiorentino terrazzo, which used to combine cement with compact stones. It also recalls the material created by Shiro Kuromata in 1983, a mixture of terrazzo with a charge of glass fragments. Instead, our terrazzo keeps the glass bottles unbroken which allows us to achieve unusual, interesting shapes by sectioning the material, being therefore a closer interpretation of the traditional fiorentino terrazzo.

The glass bottle plays now a different role. The liquid it normally contains is replaced by the coloured terrazzo. Just like different techniques are aimed to separate colours within the terrazzo surface (brass rails and plates for example), the glass bottle is used as the border between the cement and the coloured terrazzo.

Alhambra Making of

There was a double challenge: creating a visually appealing object for both bidimensional and tridimensional perspectives, with different materials, such as cement, Alhambra glass bottles, marble gravel and colour pigments. The vivid colours and different textures create a joyful combination that allows one to enjoy a full touch experience but at the same time it raises an aura of mystery about its making of.

The contrasts become literally palpable: the porosity of the cement mixes with the polished look of the glass, while the opacity and transparency of the materials encourages one to have a closer and curios look at the piece.

People use all their senses in order to understand the junction points of the materials and the intriguing created shapes which seem to go deeper and hide their volumes into the cement.

The making of itself required a deep know-how. Firstly, the three types of Alhambra glass bottles –Alhambra Especial, Alhambra Reserva 1925 and Alhambra Reserva Roja– were filled up with cement, coloured resin with marble gravel. Once the coloured terrazzo sets and hardens inside the bottles they were carefully placed into a mould filled with white terrazzo. When the block became compact and solid, it was ready to be shaped as desired in order to create a typography.

An advertising campaign of 900 kg of cement, 600 glass bottles, 12 letters and 3 words. One philosophy.

The craft beer brand plays with volumes, perspectives and three different sceneries in its latest campaign. Apparently, the three words, “Para. Mira. Toca”, are part of different settings, but they do belong to the same slogan of Cervezas Alhambra. Behind this theme, there is a whole brand philosophy, a lifestyle that invites one to take his time, to contemplate life and discover it with all his senses.

The typography of the three words is actually composed by tridimensional objects. The idea of the typography came from the one of the fundamental visual elements of the Arabic architecture: the calligraphy. Only on this occasion, the calligraphy was not just a decorative ornament, but it turned into the protagonist of the project.

Alhambra Installation

Putting together the 12 letters and giving a sense and coherence to the installation found its inspiration in the famous Japanese Ryōan-ji Garden. The concept behind it is the game of perspectives. While seen from any angle, the pieces seem to be randomly placed, with no sense or determined shape. There are only three specific points of view that allow the objects to make sense and build a word.

For that purpose, three Totems have been made of the same terrazzo and placed around the installation. The bottle plays again a new role since every Totem includes a bottle neck acting as a sight that people are invited to look through and get a new perspective about the apparently chaotic installation.

Alhambra Details

Commissioned by Cervezas Alhambra
Launch in Media June/July 2017
Installation in Calle Fuencarral, Madrid. June 2017
Materials Alhambra glass bottles, concrete, colour pigments, Carrara marble and resin.

Special thanks to:
TerracontiPiedras Lozano and Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja.
Belén Sanchez, Miguel Ángel Duo and Rafa Antón from CHINA.