In 2015, Martí Guixé (Navàs, 1964) set out to transform a small establishment on Entença Street into a bar built entirely with 3D printers, from the wall tiles, the bar, the stools or the lighting elements to the cocktail shakers, glasses, plates and cutlery. The construction process, which the self-proclaimed ex-designer, with an optimistic nature, estimated would last three years, began on November 5, with three printers managed on site by the architect and draftsman Pau Badia, who throughout the five years that Finally the process lasted, he served as a bartender behind the bar during the hours in which it was open to the public, while designing the pieces and printing them. Just when they finally concluded that epic undertaking, in February 2022, the pandemic and the subsequent confinement left them at the gates of the inauguration, forcing the definitive closure of the bar.

Ex-Designer Project Bar had its clientele, curious people who passed through the door and regulars, mostly 3D printer professionals. It hosted countless improvised and experimental music concerts, talks, presentations and conferences, accepting payments with bitcoin (“a client paid for a beer with this currency and after the pandemic we discovered that with that beer we had earned 300 euros,” says Guixé) and One night they even served digital tapas, nachos and bread with tomato. 

“That helped us realize that food printing works for an event but not on a day-to-day basis. Each piece involved a morning of preparation and an entire afternoon of printing. If you had to market it it would cost more than a jewel. In terms of time and effort, the process is more sophisticated than that of molecular gastronomy,” says Guixé, who nevertheless believes that just as the Internet left behind the fax machine, which at the time had represented a great evolution, a technology is on the way. which will make additive printing obsolete. It is just around the corner, in 2025, “which is when the century truly begins.”

The fate of the Ex-Designer Project Bar would have been its total disappearance if it had not been for the fact that Guixé and Badia did not agree and, behind closed doors, they dismantled it piece by piece, repositioning the 6,350 tiles made with PLA (a bideodegradable gray material manufactured at from corn) on large wooden panels. “What we did was a looting of the bar, but to preserve it, a painless looting,” Guixé continues. That tavern where there was life, now converted into an object, as if it were a ruin or “an archaeological site of the future”, is exhibited at the Disseny Hub Barcelona, ​​along with the open source printers used in the process and an audiovisual by Inga Knölke that documents the entire process from the moment of its gestation (until August 25).

“It is an absolutely unique project by a unique designer,” says José Luis de Vicente, artistic director of the Disseny Hub, for whom Guixé, in addition to being a pioneer of food design with great international projection, is a great “catalyst of experiments, of open questions that have extreme commitment. And for me, commitment is the word that defines this project, which is both an epic mission and a performative process and that “at the height of a speech that talked about how new digital technologies, in this case 3D printers, “They would give new forms of autonomy by allowing us to manufacture everything we needed in our homes, he decided to launch an extreme investigation to see what was behind this utopia of digital autonomy.”

Critic Jeffrey Swartz told Guixé that the project was part of the artist bar category and says he agrees in the sense that it is not a bar designed to provide an economic return, “like a truck that is not designed to transport packages”, but above all he was interested in the paradox posed by a technology that “while democratizing the industry, eliminates the artisan because the machines are in charge of making the things that you think or design virtually. That is to say, the artisan is no longer necessary for the machine to be configured as a collaborative economy artisan industry.”

“Maybe Martí wasn’t as interested in having a bar as he was in having built it. We don’t know what would have happened if the pandemic had not appeared,” suggests Teresa Bastardes, curator of the exhibition and head of collections at the Design Museum. “And right now,” she concludes, “the bar is not finished but we still don’t know what it could end up being.”