An architectural fiesta

By Craig McIntyre,

Summer at Four-by-Two is normally brought in with a party; a chance for the team to celebrate together, another year of exciting, successful projects. However, as Four-by-Two enjoys a special birthday and turns sweet sixteen, this year proved different. 

We are a team of brand storytellers, born in London’s Shoreditch, with studios in London and Edinburgh — working across Europe and beyond. To celebrate this special moment in Four-by-Two’s life, we decided to do something a little different to mark the occasion.

For work we travel often: for research trips and site visits it’s a necessary part of what we do. However, this month we were excited to wake early, pack a rucksack and head to the airport as a team, for pleasure rather than business. 

As a group of design enthusiasts, a day trip to sunny Bilbao meant we could take in the world-famous museums, architecture and culture. Our first stop was, perhaps predictably, the iconic Guggenheim Museum, designed by renowned architect, Frank Gehry. A striking yet beautiful site, it lies imposingly along the Nervión River and remains one of the most important, daring pieces of contemporary architecture of our time. 

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is home to one of seven permanent installations of Louise Bourgeois’s ‘Maman’ — a large-scale sculpture that sits in wake of the museum itself. It holds an eerie combination of elegance and horror, standing in juxtaposition to the bright blue sky, and yet, it is intended as a tribute to her mother, who was a weaver.

Entering the main atrium, another bold contrast in the form of Joana Vasconselos’s colourful ‘Egerie’ fills the heart of the building, stretching its tentacles through the space as if leading you to each exhibit. 

A favourite of ours, was Richard Serra’s ‘Torqued Ellipses’; large-scale sheets of weathered steel, warped into three-dimensional forms which create impact and emotion as they dominate the space with an air of magnificence. As well as the impressive permanent collection we were treated to exhibitions showcasing the works of Ai Wei Wei and a collection of Chagall paintings as well as more outdoor installations from Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons. 

The rest of a beautiful day was spent meandering along the river, taking in Bilbao’s rich cityscape. A combination of authentic and contemporary, from the modern Calatrava bridges to the rustic Seven Streets of Casco Viejo. With its bustling art scene, green landscape, friendly people and simple but delicious cuisine, there was a lot to fall in love with. A visit to this charming Basque city offered us the chance to share our common passions and excite and inspire our minds purely for our own enjoyment. Staying passionate means discovering the things that spark your own creativity and remembering to explore them for yourself as well as for work. But really, what better way to celebrate a special birthday than bonding as team over the art and ideas that will inspire the next sixteen years of Four-by-Two?

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