Modern Escapism: A Discussion at the FvF Apartment - Friends of Friends / Freunde von Freunden (FvF)

Modern Escapism: A Discussion at the FvF Apartment


A strong undercurrent of escapism characterizes our era as we’re emboldened to explore extraordinary locations and leave our daily grind behind to reach for the freedom and mental relief offered by nature.

The modern man is venturing into the outdoors in search of adventure without compromising his taste for well-crafted tools and state of the art technology. Over drinks, in a relaxed gathering at the FvF Apartment, a creative bunch comprising Jeffrey Bowman, Albert Folch, Raffa Martinez and Guille Cascante took some time to present three different projects with a similar concept at their core and a mutual passion for outdoor culture and adventures.

“I tossed back a few too many beers before we came so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t make a lot of sense,” said graphic designer Jeffrey Bowman jokingly as he stepped in to talk about “The Outsiders” a new book he co-edited and published with Gestalten. Focused on contemporary outdoor culture, the book’s pages capture the ethos of a new creative scene of craftsmen that develop original lifestyle products and ideas related to activities in the wilderness. Traditional techniques are combined with the latest technology to tackle the fundamental challenges posed by nature whilst adhering to the aesthetic needs of a city dweller.

“There’s real momentum: average people with an appetite for adventure turn back to the great outdoors to escape, seek answers and recoup some kind of internal balance.”

The book is a celebration of this culture and a reflection of the energy and excitement invested in the mountains, forest and sea through tactile experiences. This hobbyist outdoor ideology underpins our epoch’s movement whose followers and enthusiasts are regular people brought up in cities. Surrounded by concrete walls, overwhelming stimuli and a decreased sense of freedom more and more people are looking to embrace the breathing space provided by nature without turning primitive or giving up technology.

“We’re somewhere in the middle ground between an extreme athlete and a hermetic nomad. We live in urban spaces with daily routines but dream about the lifestyle of the adventurer and try to transfer our world to the wilderness as often as possible. “The Outsiders” makes a good case for why it’s always better to be outside than in.”

Regular people doing exceptional trips is also at the core of the online platform Eldorado Experience which showcases individual stories related to nature, travel and outdoor sports. Former FvF guest Albert Folch from graphic design and art direction Folch Studio in Barcelona presented the concept of the new online magazine and the differences from its initial format.

Eldorado started in print form a few years ago when Albert and his partner Rafa Martinez became addicted to surfing and travelled to Morocco in pursuit of waves. A friend who happened to be a photographer came along and upon their return showed them the material he had captured. Albert recognized a fresh angle on surfing photography which sparked the idea for the zine. After their second surfing trip, Rafa suggested it was time to connect to the online world and thus the publication evolved into the Eldorado Experience platform where people can also make donations to the adventurers.

“In the cities we are frustrated because of the high living costs and population density. With the eruption of the financial crisis, we sought to rediscover our values, trace back to our roots and squeeze in at least one break during the weekends to be closer to nature. We need to rest, connect with the land and pace our frenetic rhythm.”

In close collaboration with Eldorado works the video production company Goroka and its founding partner Guille Cascante who joined us for the night to give a glimpse into his upcoming documentary “Latitude 80: Whales, Dolphins and Butterflies.” The idea came through a friend of Guille’s who bought an aluminium boat and decided to sail in the Antarctic Ocean during summer when there’s constant daylight. Lovestruck by the project, Guille’s brain boiled together memories of Tintin, romantic concepts of adventurers and childhood dreams. But what really got to him was something his friend told him: “There are still places on Earth that you can only reach by sea.”

For the film, they sailed to the Barents Sea and Norway’s remote Bear Island. Moving even further north they arrived at the city of Soviet utopia: Pyramiden, an old Russian settlement and coal mining community that’s been left intact after it was abandoned overnight in 1998. With their compass pointing steadily to the North they reached to one of the northernmost settlements where a large number of young people pour onto the land during summer in search of a different place to call home.

As our evening slowly came to an end it left us contemplating our inherent urge to venture into the wild as we evolve and discover new ways to approach this without abandoning our technological advancements. Our thoughts are best encapsulated in the words of one of the most widely known nomads and adventurers, Christopher McCandless:

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”