If capitalism created new mass needs and depersonalised consumers, now it is the consumer who looks for, selects and is willing to pay for a good idea; they want something different. We now do things to suit other people and their tastes.
The scientists of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine filmed a music video in which they dance to attract sponsors to fund their research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. One of the video signs reads: “Together we can make the difference”. This “together” is all about individuality (not individualism). Or in other words, the ensemble of individualities that make up the whole. We have gone from do it yourself to making things to suit other people and their tastes. For others.
Success is no longer measured by purchasing power. In fact, in hard times, people look warily at the well-off. Now the person who triumphs is the one who takes risks and pursues what they want to. The reward is that their customer, either because they buy a picture frame, fruit they have grown themselves or repaired their shoes in Barcelona’s uptown Bonanova district, feels exclusive. Both of them are rewarded. The purchaser is happy in the knowledge that they have picked up a unique article and are treated in a personalised fashion; they want to have the impression that they are not part of an anonymous quick-deal production chain but rather party to an exchange between peers.
If capitalism created new mass needs and depersonalised consumers, now it is the consumer who looks for, selects and is willing to pay for a good idea; they want something different. Passeig de Gràcia is a showcase for brands that lure tourists, although many people from Barcelona prefer the neighbourhood shops where they can try on that jersey or necklace made by a designer at an affordable price. Second-hand and vintage furniture purchased at the Encants flea market and restored with good taste in places like Mueblé, are fast becoming an alternative to IKEA’s worn-out options. There is a shared language. A direct and close, almost intimate relationship is created between transmitter and receiver. “I like what you’ve made”, and “I’m happy you have what I made”.
Restaurateurs also target their customers and offer them added value to set them apart from the rest. On the one hand, increasingly more bars accept pets in a city in which 15% of the families own a cat or a dog. Bar Mudanzas, Bar Calders in Sant Antoni and Casa del Llibre bookstore accept animals. The journalist Micaela de la Maza has published a guide about this. There are also hairdressers for dogs that offer self-cleaning services, and tailors, spas and “doggie parks”, such as Barkcelona.
Moreover, the smoking prohibition in these kinds of premises has led them to be adapted to make room for baby-buggies. Parents with babies no longer meet only in the park; now they can socialise in teashops or even in bakeries that serve coffee. Some restaurants have started up campaigns to attract families with children, and some shops now have little tables, chairs and toys to keep the toddlers amused.
The point is that you do not have to be a stay-at-home just because you are a parent. There is an increasingly greater number of activities for all the family, such as The Family Run race, open to runners of all ages. Valkiria Hub Space is a co-working space with an annex where working mothers can leave their babies. Students from La Salle d’Horta school teach reading, writing and arithmetic to pensioners in the district. People of all ages coexist and mingle in their day-to-day life.
Kids rule at Sónar Kids, but the fact is that there are offers aplenty for them to learn art, music, science, the theatre or circus while having good fun. It is said that creativity is a talent that is available to everyone, and that it need only be nurtured for it to bloom. We are inspired by our environment.