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Bistró Bilbao Guggenheim + Vitra Design Museum Curator Amelie Klein

Design Heart

River Nervión Bilbao © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The view is distracting – locals basking in the sun along the River Nervión. Where are we? Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. The food is even more distracting – Michelin star quality Basque gastronomic delights. Round the coast, San Sebastián boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere outside the 94 departments. But Amelie Klein in full throttle is a major distraction. Design. Boom. Her favourite subject. Well it should be. She’s curator of the Vitra Design Museum. A buslady’s holiday it is, then. On sensory overtime, we’re all ears. But first the lunch at the Guggenheim:

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Restaurant View © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

  • Cocktail aperitif (Coctel aperitivo)
  • Vegetables, sautéed potatoes and greenbeam cream (Verduras, patatitas salteadas y crema de vainas)
  • Baby squid on crunchy noodles, red onion and green pepper (Chipirón, sobre fideuá crujiente, cebolla roja y pimiento verde)
  • Raspberry ice cream, citrus fruit yoghurt and crispy stones (Helado de frambuesa, yogur de cítricos y peidras crocantes)
  • Homemade bread, coffee and petit fours (Pan artesano café y petit fours)
  • Red wine (Tres Ducacdos DO Rioja)
  • White wine (Viña 65 DO Rueda)
  • Mineral water (Agua mineral)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Talking of distractions, Parisian songstress Taali M bursts into song. “I’m gonna stand on the shoulders of giants.” Where were we? Ah yes, the food. All sublime – except perhaps we’ll skip on the vinegar tinged nougat canapés next time. “We have to rethink what design is,” Amelie informs us. “It’s important for design to take responsibility for society, for people, and not for the market. Is it art? Is it design? I don’t care! Design and art should be making bold statements about the future. Where do I come from? Where am I going? Who am I? If artists don’t make bold statements, if not them, who? Otherwise we will be stuck where we are. Period.” Taali M: “Stand tall and rise above it all.”

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Restaurant Squid © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Amelie keeps going, “Design is more than chairs! It’s analogue and dialogue. We must speak about communication, systems, complexity – design is more than just objects. Critical design enhances change as it could or should be in the 21st century.” We agree modernism has gone. What awaits? Existential concerns aside, it’s 25 degrees outside. Hot, distractingly so, even in Spain, for late autumn. Where will we go? “Stand tall so tall I’ll be tall,” ends statuesque six foot beauty Taali M to applause.

Parisian Singer Taali M © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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