Martín Ruiz de Azúa
Martín Ruiz de Azúa is a tremendously inventive Barcelona designer who has recently designed the medals for the European Athletics Championships being held in Barcelona July 26-August 1, 2010.
It is interesting, this medal, as it leaves the military tradition of the minted coin as a medal and concentrates instead on the ribbon holding the medal, undercutting the formality of a symmetrical disc. Azúa has designed previous medals that play with eccentricity: an off-centre ellipse for the 2005 European Athletic Championships in Madrid – immediately one thinks of the shape of an elliptical track. For the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona 2003, the medal was a large disc holding a flat lens full of water and air bubbles: 'water the main part of the medal and the principal element of the sport'. The ribbon was translucent silicon, much like the bands that hold swimming goggles in place.
Given Spain's difficult past, especially Franco's imposition of a near obsessive respect for military pomp and tradition – uniforms, castles, massive formalistic memorials, it is no wonder that new Spanish design rejects any aspect that could possibly reflect those monstrous traditions. It is a political and social imperative to re-think everything, so much an imperative that it has become second nature. And this why, since the early 1980s, we have looked to Barcelona for a kind of pure modernism that only looks forward.