MarchTwentyTwo was born as the collaborative partnership of Laura Piera and Maria Montes, a design studio focused on high quality textile prints.
With the combination of a fashion designer (Laura Piera),and a graphic designer (Maria Montes), it is our aim to approach textile design from a fresh perspective.
Although we are a relatively new partnership, Laura’s grandfather (Roman Piera), represents an important part in the legacy of the textile print industry in Spain. In 1931, along with the help of Monsier Badois, Laura’s grandfather imported the first patent of the serigraphy into Catalonia – and indeed the first into Spain.
Laura lives in Barcelona, while Maria lives in Melbourne. Both of them were born on the same date.
In October 2011 Laura contacted Maria regarding a textile project, and this was the beginning of their collaboration together. The combination of fashion and graphic skills is one of the keys to the success of this venture, and the fact that they live in two hemispheres makes this small design studio not only almost a 24 hours business, it also combines all the seasons on the same plate!
To date, MarchTwentyTwo has worked with clients that include Zara, Mango, Bimba & Lola, Massimo Dutti, Uterqüe and El Corte Inglés.
Below you will find an outline of Laura and Maria’s trajectory, and also something in regards to the legacy of the Lyon-Barcelona Company in the textile history of Spain.
This is a long story about me and how I ended up in Australia designing textile prints with Laura Piera.
I am originally from Barcelona where I studied a Bachelor of Arts at Eina, graduating in 2000. That year I was offered a position as a graphic designer working with my teacher and renowned designer Josep Bagà. During my time working with Josep, I gained a lot of valuable experience in graphic design, page layout and typography.
I spent three years at Josep Baga i Associats, working mainly on editorial design and various marketing pieces (flyers, postcards, posters, pamphlets) for clients in the cultural and entertainment sector. Clients included Icaria Editorial, Espai Brossa Theatre, Macba (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) and CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona).
We also regularly designed monthly programs for music venues such as Moog, La Boîte, Jamboree, Jazzroom and Tarantos and designed the yearly program and all signage throughout the building –from small flyers to giant posters on the exterior of the building– for the Liceu Barcelona Opera House.
Around 2001, the Internet became widespread in Spain. I initially had no knowledge on web design so I decided to finish my work with Josep and study a one-year intensive Masters Degree in Interactive Interface Design at Elisava. The course focused on such things as processing, lingo, action script, information architecture, pixel art, and movement and sound sensors.
The theme of my Masters degree was “Metropolis”, and my final project was the creation of software that detects free parking spots in the city, in real time through a mobile phone or panel in the car. This may be something that sounds quite familiar to us nowadays – but back in 2004, long before the iPhone appeared in our lives, I can say that my final project was somewhat like a vision of what is nowadays the operating system of shared cycling in Barcelona – and many other countries – through smart phone devices.
After I finished my Master’s Degree I started a new job as a full time graphic designer. I worked for clients mainly in the sports sector, such as Nike, Vallnord and Intersport. During my time at Pixel I worked with two German designers, an Italian designer, a French designer and my art director was from Argentina. All of them spoke their native languages plus Spanish, Catalan and English. In short, this type of environment made me consider the option of travelling to another country, improving my English and also my portfolio.
In September 2006 I landed in Brisbane, and 3 months later I secured a company to sponsor me – as their lead graphic designer. Some of our clients during that time included governmental institutions such as Queensland Health and Queensland Police. We also worked for non-profit organizations, including the Australian Red Cross. Overall, this job gave me the opportunity of taking projects from beginning to end and assuming all decisions surrounding design, paper quality, production budgets and delivery datelines.
In 2010, as my Sponsorship Business Visa was nearing its end, I decided to go back to study. I felt that after 10 years in the graphic arts, it was a good moment for me to go back to the foundations. I consider typography the main tool for a graphic designer and I felt that I needed to upgrade my knowledge.
During my university years at Eina, we were taught the importance of calligraphy in the history of modern typography. I spent my first year learning calligraphy with Keith Adams, a great calligrapher, teacher and mentor. The experience there was amazing, and since that time I have tried to keep writing as a form of personal development.
Knowing that Eina also offered a Postgraduate Course of Advanced Typography, and discovering the name of Keith Adams and calligraphy in the program, I decided to enrol for postgraduate study for 2011. During the course I found out about an international type design competition called Miłosz 2011 and I decided to use the real briefing of the competition to develop my typeface design. Miłosz Italic was my first attempt at type design. The typeface is a work-in-progress project. I would like to mention and express my gratitude to my teachers and fantastic type designers for guiding me through the process of creating Miłosz Italic: Laura Meseguer, José Manuel Urós and Iñigo Jerez.
After the Postgraduate Course finished in July 2011, I moved to Melbourne, where I currently reside. I sent my ongoing typographic project to a few studios in Melbourne that caught my attention due to their typographic and editorial approach. Aaron Moodie –former co-founder of People Collective– kindly invited me to join an informal reunion of type aficionados. I went to the meeting and I met a group of fantastic graphic artists, all of them with a common passion for typography, calligraphy and lettering. There, I learned for the first time about Type@Cooper. Troy Leinster was part of the first edition of the Cooper Condensed Program and he explained to me amazing stories about his experience. Troy gave me the courage to enrol into the course.
2011 was a fantastic year in my career, and I finished it by starting a completely new project. A fashion designer and friend, Laura Piera –who I met in Brisbane in 2006– offered me to collaborate with her on a project about textile prints. We started working together in mid-October 2011. Our work during that first month gave us very positive results so we decided to start a collaborative partnership called “MarchTwentyTwo”.
While I was working with Laura on our textile prints, I decided to send my application to Type@Cooper. In March 2012 I found out that I had been accepted into the course. Laura and I were really busy at that time undertaking many projects and getting on board new clients but I did not want to miss the opportunity of studying type design again so I took 6 weeks off work and moved to New York.
Type@Coopper was a fantastic experience. It was a great learning curve professionally and personally. Being admitted at Cooper Union gave me the motivation to go back to my broad nib and expansion pens and start writing calligraphy as a daily exercise before our daily commissioned work. At Type@Cooper I had the opportunity of developing my second typeface design called “March 22”. I thought it would be a good idea to create a corporate typeface for our textile print projects. The typeface is another work-in-progress project.
I want to give special thanks to Jean François Porchez who taught me a way of hand drawing type design that I have applied (and continue to apply) to my textile prints and lettering work. I am very grateful for his help – now I approach textile drawings and lettering in a very similar way, combining both skills in my daily work.
Working from home in solitude throughout most of the day, whilst learning independently on how to become a textile designer were the biggest challenges I have ever faced in my career. I can now say that being alone has given me the opportunity to hear my inner voice and get to know myself a lot better.
After one and a half years working from my bedroom I decided to move to a co-working space. Nowadays, I split my time between Melbourne and Barcelona working on textile prints, graphic design, illustration, lettering projects and calligraphic personal development.
Drawing, typography, lettering and calligraphy are my passion and the best tools for me as a designer to communicate. I feel that the more I understand and know how to use these tools, a better designer I will become.
Since I was a child I had a special interest in materials & fabrics. I used to create diaries of my life with old pictures, magazine images concert flyers etc. I was always using my hands – whether drawing, sticking, or sewing fabrics to my books. In short, I have always been fascinated by describing my life through a medium other than the traditional written word.
Because of my grandfather’s history in the textile and printing business, I grew up in an artistic atmosphere – surrounded by artworks, stencils and the smell of ink and prints. My twin brother, a lighting designer, has also been a strong influence in my search of creativity, together with my other 3 brothers and sisters, who have their own projects with jewelry and photography.
As has been mentioned in other parts of this website, my grandfather, after living for a long period of time in Lyon (France) and studying the new Lyon printing technique, came back to Spain and created a large patterned fabric factory, named “Lyon-Barcelona” in 1931. His factory was the first in Spain that used the new Lyon printing technique, a technique which became the current silk screen-printing as it is known nowadays.
I have been lucky to study what I like: fashion and design. In the AETM School, I developed my artistic side, an experience that I would repeat again without hesitation.
During my time at the AETM School, I was surrounded by inspiring teachers and colleagues that helped me awaken the creativity that was inside me. For me to create beautiful things it is very important to be surrounded by like-minded people and as a result, I started to create day and night. This eventually helped me to become who I am today.
In addition, whilst in my father’s workshop, I found a world where time would stop and ideas would bloom. I would stay there alone just surrounded by the factory’s old materials: old sewing machines, pattern design tables and original prints from the 50s to the 70s. I spent hours working on collages with old fabrics that I found in the factory, gathered from so many visits to “Los Encantes” (the most famous flea-market in Barcelona), or from my grandmother’s vintage dresses.
My first garment collection however, was inspired by my grandmother. I created new garments using different old natural fibers that would bring back family memories and would form part of the final cloth. (A special thank you to Jose Castro – my tutor during my final project at the AETM School – for motivating me through the process)!
After graduating from the AETM School, I started working as a designer in the Massimo Dutti Company (Inditex Group). In 2002, I worked in the Homewear Collection, the Swimwear Collection and the Knit Jersey Collection (t-shirts and knit samples). Being at Massimo Dutti gave me the opportunity to work with a great professional team and travel around the world – sourcing new trends in amazing cities such as London, Paris, New York and Tokyo, and in and out of factories in Portugal, Turkey, Hong Kong, China and India. I would like to thank all my design team, and especially my design manager, Queral Ferrer, from whom I learned so much.
What fascinated me the most about working in such a big company –and there were a lot of things to be fascinated with– was the opportunity to work with the best textile factories around the world, with their amazing range of high quality natural fibers that I could feel and understand with my hands.
In August 2006 I had the opportunity to take 2 years to travel to Brisbane, Australia. During those 2 years I studied English and worked at the same time as a freelance designer for a Portuguese knit jersey factory, traveling around Australia and searching for new trends in the process.
In May 2008, after my Australian trip finished, I went back to work at Massimo Dutti. The company offered me the opportunity to move to Hong Kong and work at the Inditex Hong Kong Office as a sourcing manager for new potential factories that would produce for the Massimo Dutti Womanswear Department. My goal was to find high quality products that both provided value to our customers, and also met the company’s profit targets.
During my 3 years working in Hong Kong my commercial skills became stronger, due to so many visits to different Asian suppliers, who specialised in all types of products, including shirts, knit, suits, jackets and accessories.
My endless trips on my own to China, India and South-East Asia helped build my character and also helped me to learn more about myself. In addition, I learned to have a better understanding of the commercial side of design. I vastly improved my negotiation skills and also learned to act as a medium between the end customer and the production manager, whilst working on all of the production stages.
After my wonderful Hong Kong experience, I transferred back to Barcelona and worked as a designer in the accessories and homewear collection. I was at Massimo Dutti Woman for one more year.
In June 2011, still based in Barcelona, I started working as a freelance for a company in Inner Mongolia that specialised in printed and jacquard scarves.
Having always kept some original old prints from my grandfather’s factory, I was inspired to concentrate my work in print fabrics. I wanted to start something new – and getting inspired by some of the artworks from my past gave me all the power and confidence to start working by myself.
My target was to introduce new customers around the world to the Mongolian supplier and create scarves and print designs, with the objective to mix high fabric qualities from Asia with a strong European design.
I felt that there was the need to have a graphic design partner that specialised in prints, so I got in contact with Maria Montes, a Catalan friend that I met in Brisbane, and who currently lives in Melbourne. I have always had a very strong connection with Maria. The combination of fashion and graphic design was a perfect fit.
For Laura and I it is important to share with you the story behind “Lyon-Barcelona S.A.”, because it was the foundation of our collaborative project, and a big part in Laura’s family history.
When we decided to start MarchTwentyTwo, we initially went to the Museum of Printing in Premià de Mar to understand the legacy of the Lyon-Barcelona relationship. To this day, Laura keeps several original prints from his grandfather’s factory, which gave us a lot of inspiration – and courage!
The brief story set out below is a homage to Laura’s family legacy and their passion for this trade.
The patterned fabric factory Lyon-Barcelona of Premia de Mar, known as “La Lió”, played a key role in the introduction of a new printing technique in Spain.
In 1930, Mr. Roman Piera Arcal, Laura Piera’s grandfather and owner of Lyon-Barcelona factory, moved to Borduen (Lyon), where the centre of the French serigraphy was located. Whilst there, he learned his trade in a revolutionary printing technique, from a Monsieur Badois.
One year later, these two men imported from Lyon the patent of the serigraphy for the factory Lyon-Barcelona of Premia de Mar. This historical document is currently kept in the Museum of Printing Premià de Mar.
From the 21st of March 1931 and indeed during a large part of the 20th century, the Lyon-Barcelona Company was responsible for introducing the patent of the serigraphy system to Spain. “La Lió” was the most important textile printing company in the whole country. As consequence, a number of draftsmen, mould engravers and serigraphy workshops emerged around the country.
The textiles produced by the serigraphy system spread out so quickly that almost every citizen of Premià de Mar was linked to the factory in one way or another, resulting in making the village economically dependent of the factory.
Because of the renowned reputation of Lyon-Barcelona, the manager of the company decided that “La Lió” needed a unique building to work from. As a result, a magnificent modernist building was commissioned for the city and the company. The building, which dates from the end of the 19th century, is still standing to this day, as in the images below.