While visiting Barcelona Spain earlier this month, I read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and while taking in the sights of Barcelona I began to realize that there is a similarity between Jobs and Barcelona’s native son Antoni Gaudi.
Antoni Gaudi, a brilliant man, lived in Barcelona from 1852-1926. It is said that Gaudi was a man of simple ideas and common sense. He saw an intersection of science, mathematics and art and applied these intersecting ideas to his architecture. His work fuses structure and decoration, with nature being his guide. Gaudi studied the geometry and principles of nature and included them in his designs. He studied natural structures such as bones, beehives and tree trunks and observed laws of dynamics and statics to look for functional applications and solutions to his constructions. He is well known for his design of Park Güell, the Palau Güell, the Casa Batillo, and Sagrada Família in Barcelona. His vibrant tile colors, geometric shapes and whimsical constructions are breathtaking. If you are not familiar with Gaudi, here is a website to introduce you to him and his work.
Steve Jobs, a brilliant man as well, frequently referred to the “intersection of technology and liberal arts”. He saw the relevance of combining technology and science with an understanding of literature, art and design. I understood this intersection more than ever while in Barcelona. Gaudi and Jobs were similar. The architecture of Gaudi around Barcelona immerses visitors in colors, forms, spaces and various artistic techniques he used in his works. Some people looked upon him a madman, while others thought of him as a genius. Same with Jobs. His clean design, along with his concern for packaging, and the look of the inside of the computer (something most of us never see) were things he was concerned about. Some people thought of Jobs as a madman, and others as a genius. It turns out the latter was correct in both cases. If we were to close our eyes and listen to a famous Apple advertisement from 1997 that went along with the “Think Different Campaign”, we could imagine it referring to either Steve Jobs and Apple or Catalonian artist/architect Antoni Gaudi. The ad reads like this: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Both Jobs and Gaudi pushed the human race forward: Jobs with the personal computer and Gaudi with his enduring art and architecture that continues to delight the viewer and influenced hundreds artists. It is interesting to note that both men had a reputation for being incredibly expressive and individualistic in their style. They also both had a bad temper at times, but both men were perfect examples of what can happen when science,technology, engineering and math intersect with art and design. What we get is the elegance of Apple products and the beauty of places like Park Güell, Casa Batillo, and Sagrada Familia. *STEM Education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math **STEAM Education: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math Note: Some people call this combination STE2AM (with E2 being Engineering and Entrepreneurship)—Steve Jobs would certainly fit this category.