IBZ, new collection by José A. Gandía-Blasco

June 6, 2022 | Designers /

GANDIABLASCO is, in essence, the personality of José A. Gandía-Blasco Canales. He is a lover of the Mediterranean lifestyle characterized by the outdoors’ enjoyment, connection with nature and those open social spaces that, since the agoras of Ancient Greece, have served to meet, interact and connect. If there is a place that marked a before and after in the designer’s career is, in addition to Valencia —his hometown—, the island of Ibiza, which he visited for the first time almost 50 years ago. His airport code, three letters that are still very present in his life, give name to his new collection of outdoor furniture for GANDIABLASCO: IBZ.

The cubic and essential elements of the IBZ series evoke the purity of forms and the volumetry typical of Ibizan vernacular architecture, paying tribute to the dignity and honesty of these constructions, which throughout the centuries have fascinated great architects, photographers and writers. In fact, despite to have become a major tourist attraction, Ibiza remains faithful to its origins and preserves that essence and legacy for which it is considered one of the most relevant and admired vestiges of Mediterranean culture.

The purity of the vernacular architecture of the Mediterranean

In Ibiza the GANDIABLASCO imaginary emerged and the germ of the first outdoor collections, launched two decades ago and inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle and vernacular architecture of the island. Is this place still one of your main sources of inspiration?

Yes. Historical Ibizan architecture has always enchanted and fascinated me and it still continues to fascinate me. I walk around the island a lot, through its fields, and when I see an old Ibizan house it still attracts me because that set of volumes that the ancient Ibizans used and built seem very attractive to me. After 20 years, yes, Ibiza is still my source of inspiration, but it is not a coincidence because in the end this type of ancestral Ibizan architecture has a lot to do with it, as Le Corbusier said and some other great European architects who were already in Ibiza for the first half of the 20th century, with the contemporary architecture.

In the end, they are just very clean volumes, a very sharp geometry that, although they obviously built it with their hands and did not have, or rather did not achieve, those clean and right angles that contemporary architecture achieves built in a more technologically advanced way. They built those same volumes and, since they did it by hand, that rounded shape of the corners was always present, because they molded them with their hands. Today whoever builds an Ibizan house with current technology, does so with angles that are perfect 90º edges, there are no curves, unless they do so intentionally to imitate ancient Ibizan architecture.

In the past, in front of the porches of the rural houses of this Pitiusa island, the modest Ibizan wooden and wicker chairs, made by hand, were lined up. Naked, sober and authentic, they have been portrayed by great photographers and painters throughout history. In a way, does IBZ try to pay homage and update the schematic and pragmatic character of these chairs?

There may be some of that, but what I have been most inspired by is the cubes of the houses of Ibizan architecture, much more than their furniture, which was also very schematic. But the roundness of the geometry of the houses is much closer to the IBZ collection that I have just designed now. The armchair is practically a cube on a smaller scale, which is why I think that aside of furniture, I continue to be inspired by ancient Ibizan architecture.

• The aluminum profiles that make up the structure of the IBZ designs, especially robust, seem to evoke the purity of forms and the volumetry typical of vernacular Ibizan architecture, characterized by thick white walls painted with lime. What keeps that ancient design within an absolutely timeless frame?

I believe that temporality is precisely determined by such a resounding geometry. This is already a very clear conditioning factor to make something timeless, in my opinion. When you go to very complicated shapes I believe that purity of geometry is lost, because it is what makes both the architecture and the furniture that I have designed timeless.

The traditional country houses of Ibiza were born creating landscape, from discretion and natural anchoring in the environment. Does IBZ follow this same philosophy?

Well, today this would be quite questionable. The vast majority of architecture is terrible but there is always an architect who, inspired a bit by the purity of the geometry of Ibizan architecture, continues to create contemporary architecture that has a lot to do with the original.
There is an architect in Formentera, for example, whose name is Marià Castelló, and if you see his houses they are also of a clean and emphatic geometry that have to do with the historical architecture of Ibiza or Formentera. Not in a direct and literal way, but because of that roundness in the geometry that is used. Therefore, there are architects who continue to be inspired by that architecture but which, in some way, are based on the 21st century.

What was it that captured you on your first trip to Ibiza almost 5 decades ago?

I was captivated by the landscape, the architecture as well as the people. And the fauna that inhabited the island at that time too… In 1973 I went in for the first time and there were still hippies and that spirit of freedom, of alternative and unconventional life that the hippies brought to the island of Ibiza. It seemed very attractive to me, especially considering the gray time that Franco’s Spain was living, when everything was still very homogeneous, pretty much “same”. Here in Ibiza everything was color, other ways of living, other ways of dressing, of expressing oneself… All of this seemed very interesting to me.

“The island is isolated from the movements of the world, and even from civilization. Its landscape is the most virgin that most virgin I have found.” What remains today of the Ibiza that Walter Benjamin described in his first letters, in 1932, after settling there in a small house by the sea?

I believe that there is some still; the landscape of the island is still heavily forested. It is an island of pine trees, hence the name of Pitiusa, here there are pine trees everywhere, more and more. The farms have already been abandoned, nobody enjoys them anymore and many of them have been invaded by pine trees. That landscape of pines is still very present. Then also if you go through the countryside and more rural areas there is still a lot of presence of Ibizan architecture, as always, but as everywhere, there are many areas of the island where they have been distorted in a bad way.

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