When I plucked the new Anthropologie catalog from my mailbox, I immediately recognized the cover's backdrop as Barcelona's Park Güell. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the park and its organic shapes and colorful mosaic work reflect his playful, visionary style.
Born in 1852, Gaudí is the best known architect of "Modernisme," a movement associated with the search for Catalan national identity in Spain which paralleled the Art Deco period elsewhere.
Gaudí infused his passion for nature into his craft as a highly creative and technically gifted architect. Especially later in his career, you'll see few straight lines or sharp corners in the parks, homes, and churches he designed — instead, his walls, balconies, and roofs undulate. The shapes are reminiscent of seashells, waves, tree canopies, and animal scales. Gaudí was also skilled in his use of stained glass and mosaics, and his highly ornamental creations are interesting down to the last detail.
Gaudí's other passion, for his Roman Catholic faith, takes shape most ambitiously in his still incomplete masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia (Images 1 and 2). While any cathedral can make you feel insignificant and awed, for me visiting the Sagrada Familia was a unique, almost magical experience. Despite its unfinished state, the basilica is one of seven Gaudí creations considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(Images: As linked above)