Torres Clavé, an architect who was taken from us too early in the Spanish Civil War, founded GATCPAC, a group that sought to foster rationalist architecture in Catalonia and thus sympathised with the German Bauhaus and the modern movement.
Along with his colleagues Sert, Subirana and others he designed a lamp that they offered as a gift in the buildings they erected, occasionally customising one detail or another as if laying down their collective signature. This is the GATCPAC lamp that Santa & Cole are re-editing according to Torres Clavé’s plans, thought to be the first and the original lamp of the many variations the group produced.
It has a metal base and a tall shaft with a broad cross-section like an unsheathed column. At the top, a joint that can be adjusted by hand grips a dome-shaped shade that can be directed upwards (for indirect light) or to one side or the other (for direct light). This feature transforms it into a household light – a machine à illuminer – with a strict purpose, far from Greek or Roman historicist evocations. A flawlessly modern piece.
The GATCPAC lamp is part of the Design Classics collection, a series of objects created at different times of modernism with the twofold aim of strengthening historical memory – which is sometimes endangered – and putting forward critical discussion on creation in industrial design beyond mere trends.
An architect, designer, town planner and revolutionary, his is one of the most outstanding Spanish avant-garde artistic and social names of the 30s. He was one of the people who introduced the Modern Movement into Spain and is the author of emblematic modern works. Some of his furniture and lamp designs are still produced today, over 60 years after his death.
He studied architecture at Barcelona School of Architecture, graduating in 1929. He began his career, while still a student, in the studio of his uncle Jaume Torres Grau and later with projects carried out in collaboration with Josep Lluís Sert, with whom he went into partnership in 1930.
In 1929 he became a founding member of GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for Architectural Progress), which one year later would give rise to the establishment of the GATEPAC, on a state level. This group of professionals, immersed in the European rationalist school, arose from its need to condemn and curb the cultural decadence, in particular of design and architecture, proposing a new professional ethics which would accept a social commitment with responsibility. The group dissolved with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil Year, when most of its members had to go into exile, or were killed on the front, as in the case of Torres Clavé.
Their architectural projects include some of the most emblematic buildings of Catalan rationalism, such as the Dispensario Central Antituberculoso and the Casa Bloc, both in Barcelona, carried out in collaboration with Josep Lluís Sert and Juan Baptista Subirana.
As regards his facet as a designer, his contributions began with the furniture prototypes designed for the houses of relatives and for his own residence, and ended up being fully devoted to the work carried out in the GATCPAC. These modern furniture elements were promoted from 1935 in the shop MIDVA, created together with J.L. Sert and A. Bonet, the objectives of which included promoting new designs with standardizable solutions, using the most economic materials for the application of new solutions in architecture. Both the shop MIDVA and the magazine AC (Documents of Contemporary Activity), edited by Torres Clavé himself, became the main discussion forums of the thinking of the GATCPAC.
In a letter from Josep Lluís Sert to Raimón Torres, Torres Clavé's son, he puts the importance of his colleague's work and human talent on record: [...] The years of collaboration with the GATCPAC and the CIAM, your father's enthusiasm, energy and talent, gave us all an example which kept the group active and united. The magazine AC is a result of his dedication and constant work. I cannot imagine the Casa Bloc, the Dispensari, the Ciutat de Repós, the Plà Macià and all the important works, without your father's contribution. The GATCPAC itself, as a work team, would never have come to fruition without his contribution, his enthusiastic spirit and his capacity for work and organization.