IDEAT contemporary life. N.110 – July-August 2014
To capture the spirit of GANDIABLASCO, the Spanish designer brand, you need to head to Ontinyent, near Valencia (Spain). There, on the 7.000 m² of a former textile factory, José Antonio Gandia-Blasco Canales, Chairman and Director of the company, prescribes the furniture that best reflects his lifestyle. From the studio to the private apartments (pool included!) architecture, furniture, objects d’art and more all reflect GANDIABLASCO’s DNA: Mediterranean, contemporary and free thinking.
Report by Guy-Claude Agboton / Fotos Tres Miguel for IDEAT
Ontinyent – 35.000 inhabitants with a temperature of 27ºC on this bright May day. The five-storey GANDIABLASCO headquarters, an old blanket factory, is made up of a surprising mix of architectural styles. Half of the total 7,000 m² are used as offices, studios, showroom, shop, and private apartments. The remainder consists of the empty spaces of the original textile mills. The factory that is used for production and storage is ten kilometres away. “This is where you will find the spirit of GANDIABLASCO. What we express through furniture is a way of life,” says the Chairman José Antonio Gandia-Blasco, who detests the word “minimalism”; he prefers the idea of “the essential”, which is his view of the Mediterranean lifestyle. José Antonio settled here four years ago. “For me, the whole building is my home. When I was young, I came here often.”
He does not mind working 365 days a year, as his work is his life. “I’m more than happy to live in the factory. This way I don’t need a car, and I don’t need to disconnect,” he says.
In the kitchen, only the light wood of the chairs and the cutting board give any colour. Everything else is hidden away inside the cabinets. In the bedroom, the bed, with views out to the garden, is an extension of the desk. We notice Stefan Zweig’s book The World of Yesterday, a pre war tale that no one who lived in a bubble would read…
The harmony between José Antonio and the young architect Borja Garcia, 34, grew out of listening: the five floors of the building are connected by a flight of concrete stairs with no rail on their open side, “the backbone of the company” says José Antonio. The building breaks the mould of the glacial white cube, particularly the ground floor, which is a kind of cellar-kitchen-lounge and pool house!
José Antonio had already created his own universe for his Na Xemena home in Ibiza. Until then, he had only created carpets. The first outdoor furniture that he designed was just for personal use and was an extension of the house’s architecture. According to GANDIABLASCO, its commercial success was due to the absence of architectonic furniture in the outdoor furniture sector.
Na Xemena remains José Antonio’s paradise. “I fell in love with Ibiza when I was 18. I love the architecture in Ibiza. I wanted an Ibizan house, but a contemporary one,” he explains.
Spreading the company culture
The air smells of the burnt wood of orange trees. Jose Antonio’s 93 year old father gives instructions to make paella for fifteen people. He remembers aloud and without nostalgia the time when 3.000 blankets were manufactured each week. To find the best fruit and a good Boucher you need to go shopping with him. We taste socarrat, the succulent flavour of the paella crust, as well as monjavina, a cinnamon pastry inherited from the Arabs, both in his company. The three generations of the GANDIABLASCO family really do not need anyone to show them the art of living. For the last year and a half, José Antonio has worked with his daughter Alejandra, who joined from the world of Fine Arts. As Sub-creative director and com manager, she defines GANDIABLASCO’s digital strategy. “Through digital marketing, we spread the company’s culture, also our products. The idea is to share our interest about the creativity and their expression forms”, says Alejandra. GANDIABLASCO is also a team. Mapi Millet, GAN Director (which produces indoor carpets), explains that here everyone works independently and says they “create whilst enjoying themselves” This does not mean that everything is easy. We learned that José Antonio only sees Sergio, aka Mr. Finance, when it is really necessary. Everyone ambushes José Antonio, samples in hand, and there is no strict protocol.
In the creation studio, resplendent carpets are displayed as in a caravansary. People discuss, make choices and work. In another room there are unfinished prototypes, stored like files. As the day draws to a close, we tell ourselves that the consistency in the midst of this profusion of feelings comes from the general attachment to what is essential or fundamental. Here there is not too much of anything. Not even of space. For when you have so much to offer, you are ideally positioned to reflect from a relaxed position.