Tuesday, August 7, 2018


It was an honour been able to teach what I love at the renowned Elisava in Barcelona from the 25 – 28th June. Elisava is the first University in Spain teaching Design since 1960, having a long trajectory in Design and Engineer. It is considered to be one of the best Design Schools worldwide. Keep reading below.

I can say I had the best time running this workshop. I remembered my teaching days in Colombia at a Design University. This was a 4-day workshop, fully immersed in colour, alchemy and very beautiful people. Students from 3rd and 4th year of Design (Product, Graphic, Interior and Visual Arts), which were very keen in experimenting and working outside of their comfort zone. Therefore, great ideas and concepts came into fruition in different areas.

Photo: Studio Laura Daza 

The aim of the workshop was to be inspired in traditional alchemic techniques and reinterpret them in a modern way. Also to reconnect with matter, as we are more connected to the digital world nowadays and we are moving away from natural materials and authentic techniques.

The workshop was held in a science lab were we used authentic processes; it turned out to be a true alchemic colour lab. And students expended a great amount of time crushing, grinding, washing, sieving, grinding powdered pigments.  

Photo: Studio Laura Daza

It can be said that Alchemy is a practical science, which has been long mystified, inspired and intrigued. Alchemical work laid foundations for both the content and the practice of modern science, especially chemistry; and played an important role in the formation of cultural attitudes towards science and technology.

Photo: Grinding an Ostrich egg

Alchemy's concepts and promises had an equal impact on humanistic fields, influencing fine arts, literature, theatre and poetry. Its practitioners sought not only the secret of making gold, but also a wide range of other more attainable chemical products, improved medicines, pigments, dyes, alloys, cosmetics and so on. 

The development of pigments did not only come from the paint world. Pigments were also used for colouring ceramics, for cosmetics (as Lead White and Arsenic, were used until the 18th century. These were quite toxic).

Photo: Studio Laura Daza. Work-in-progress

Students prepared natural pigments and did some experiments to recapture the enticing surface effect lost by modern synthetic paint. The surface obtained was a vibrant, multi-layered finish, where particles of inorganic pigments are visible. You may see in the images. 

Photo: Studio Laura Daza. Work by Valenti Soler

Students followed a brief. They were encouraged to try and test new techniques and processes and give some focus to what they developed through the workshop. The aim of the workshop was to fully explore the properties of materials, raw ingredients and colour and translate it to a concept.

Photo: Studio Laura Daza

The above image is the work by Amalia Puga, where she sourced local materials from her hometown, such as plants, flowers, feathers, tree barks, etc. Her concept was about collecting local flora and capturing its colours onto beautifully made swatches. 

Photo: Amalia Puga

On the other hand, Valenti Soler, extracted Royal colours and hues and captured them onto fabrics and textures. He created a stunning and elegant colour and material palette. 

Photo: Valenti Soler

Represented Renaissance drapery and colours using minerals such as Azurite blue and Malachite green. He wanted to see the effect of colour on different fabrics to create luxurious pieces. Also, explored new materiality by simulating a mineral, you may see this in the above image. 

Photo: Project and photography Valenti Soler. Zoomed images

Photo: Sara Latorre

Sara Latorre explored the concept of transparency by experimenting with colour and light, she captured powdered natural pigments in a material to create a translucent effect. You may see her samples below. 

Photo: Studio Laura Daza. Work by Sara Latorre

Photo: Aina Ras

Another student, Aina Ras, explored the concept of layering colour by mixing chalk with natural earths, she wanted to simulate the texture and colours of sand. 

You may see more images and work from other students in our instagram @colour_alchimia.