Reputations: Mario Eskenazi
Marc Ferrer Vives
‘Here in Europe everything was more formal, more rigid, and American design was freer, fresher. I tried to be a mix of the two.’
Interview by Sarah Snaith [EXTRACT]
Mario Eskenazi (b. 1945) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to an architect father who encouraged him to draw. He grew up in Río Cuarto, a small city in Córdoba, and studied architecture at the National University of Córdoba. After military service he returned to Córdoba and in 1968 worked as a graphic designer at the university’s radio and its TV station, Canal 10. He left for Europe in 1971 and from 1972-74 worked at an architectural practice on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria while freelancing as a graphic designer. He moved to Barcelona in 1974 …
He designed the identity of Banc Sabadell (Banco Sabadell in Spanish) in 1995 … Other projects include Eskenazi’s designs for TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), from 2008-15; and Barcelona pel Medi Ambient (Barcelona for the Environment / Barcelona City Council), an identity that lasted twelve years; and the Santa Mònica art centre. … Eskenazi has worked with many local restaurants, including Mordisco, Cuines Santa Caterina and Roca Moo. He became a member of AGI in 1997, and was awarded Spain’s National Design Award in 2000.
Identity design for Free Damm Tostada and Free Damm, an alcohol-free beer by Barcelona-based brewers Cervezas Damm, 2017-19. Designers: Eskenazi and Marc Ferrer Vives.
Top. Mario Eskenazi pictured in Santa Caterina Market in the old quarter of Barcelona. The public space was redeveloped in 2005 by architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT). ‘This is one of my favourite places, I go there to buy food,’ says Eskenazi. And it’s very close to my studio.’ Portrait: Adriana Eskenazi / Elena Claverol.
Sarah Snaith People know your work in Barcelona, but can we start with the time before Spain, in Argentina?
Mario Eskenazi My time in Argentina was more educational than professional. I was lucky enough to study in a good political period (after Perón), with a state university recognised throughout Latin America (1970s), and then to work learning in a television channel. Let’s say it was a time of training and of receiving stimuli.
Identity design for Barcelona pel Medi Ambient (Barcelona for the Environment), 2008-15. Starting with two ideas – that a clean environment could be represented by a clean sky, and Barcelona by the letter ‘B’ – Eskenazi designed a logotype that can be applied to a variety of vehicles and containers. Designers: Eskenazi and Diego Feijóo.
You lived twenty or so years in Córdoba …
Until I was 23. The other day I read the obituary that Seymour Chwast wrote for Milton Glaser, and I was amused to discover I have something in common with both of them: I, too, am the son of immigrant Jews.
Where are your parents from?
My father was Turkish, he was born in Smyrna and my mother was born in Argentina, but her parents were from Russia and Romania. I am an immigrant, a wandering Jew (laughs) …
Colour-coded monthly bus guides for the TMB, 2013, based on four modules used to create a pattern that, like the broader TMB identity, depicts the map of central Barcelona. Designers: Eskenazi and Dani Rubio.
Sarah Snaith (1934-2020) design writer, editor, Buenos Aires
Read the full version in Eye no. 101 vol. 26, 2021
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.