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"Intend to create powerful images that combine knowledge from the past and the present," says Mariana Gella

Mariana Gella is a top designer in the Architecture Illustration Competition.

My name is Mariana Gella, I am a London-based Spanish architect and artist. My work  is influenced by cultural heritage references in architecture & art, esoteric  iconography, mythology and the Bollywood universe with its extraordinary wealth,  diversity and energy of the decorative arts. 

The colours have a fundamental role in my work. I always use the same ones to give a  coherence to all designs. It’s a pastel colour palette, that might seem very naive at first  but the designs are extremely intricate and powerful. I like to play with the opposition  

between appearance and meaning, inviting the viewer to explore each piece in depth. Minimalism is the enemy of my work, as I believe that decoration creates a powerful  mental stimulation. 

As a designer, I intend to create powerful images that combine knowledge from the past and the present and express it in a contemporary language, in order to touch  people and connect in a meaningful way. 

Through my projects I try to challenge architectural codes and traditional visual  languages by blurring the lines between reality and fiction. I am always researching and learning and my designs are an evolution of this process. 

During this year where a lot of us were under a severe lockdown, I invested a lot of  time exploring a subject related to two of my passions: Bollywood movies and  spirituality (both in the Indian context). This Design competition seemed like the  perfect opportunity to share my work with the world. Design Class is an inspiring  platform in itself and I feel honoured that my work was featured in it. 

The research proposal expressed here has its origin in a personal interest and passion related to India and its decorative arts culture, the trademark of my work since I visited  the country. 

Few countries have so consistently celebrated and practiced decorative arts, and the embellishment and ornamentation of the surface as India. I strongly believe that decoration provides us physical, mental and aesthetic stimulation. Through my work, highly inspired by these decorative arts, I intend to express an  interest in an anthropological phenomena that is taking place nowadays, and that is  still under explored.

The architectural language is fundamental in my work, as it allows me to give life to fictional worlds through the use of realistic graphic codes. It represents the  intersection of fiction and reality. 

In this illustration I also explore the architectural aspects of Bollywood related  culture—artefacts designed and built with the only purpose to be used in specific  rituals, as well as the ephemeral shrines and giant deities used for festivals. These  elaborate constructions have a romantic or melancholic feeling surrounding them, as  they only exist for a limited period of time, and with a specific purpose, before  disappearing forever. 

In addition, I designed abundant architectural elements for the viewers to experience a  meditative journey leading them to understand the ultimate show. 

This illustration represents my personal vision on this phenomena, based on an  extensive research. By no means I intend to make it a statement, or offend anyone. My  work is purely based on the admiration for the culture and decorative arts, and I am  always trying to incorporate new elements and feedback from the viewers. I try to be  as respectful as possible, as I wasn’t born there, and my vision might be mistaken in  some points. I love hearing feedback from everyone and learning!

See her complete design submission.

Mariana GellaMariana GellaMariana GellaMariana Gella
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