José A. Gandía-Blasco, jury of the 15th GANDIABLASCO Contest
September 6, 2022 | Contest /
The jury of the GANDIABLASCO International Outdoor Furniture Design Contest is made up of leading professionals from the fields of culture, design and the industrial furniture sector. In its fifteenth edition we spoke with José A. Gandía-Blasco Canales, President of the company and one of the members of the Jury:
What do you think outdoor environments provide when it comes to workspaces?
It is very pleasant when the weather is good to sit with your computer on a terrace, whether in a garden or on the terrace of a cafeteria and sit down to work quietly in the sun or in the shade, depending on the temperature.
Can the outdoors influence productivity or professional meetings?
Yes, of course, being together in the open air can have an influence, it can be very pleasant from time to time, but how do I say, only if it is occasional, not on a recurring basis. It has to be understood in a punctual and occasional way.
In terms of design, how would you define the essential ingredients of an ideal workspace?
Obviously, it would have to be a covered space in some way, for example, if the weather is good depending on the time of year you cannot start working directly in the sun because it can be too hot or if it is raining, in a pergola, protected from the rain, then yes you could work outside. So yes, you can occasionally work this way and there is certainly a tendency to do this, within the more casual work context.
Working under a pergola can be a good way to work, both in winter and in summer, since in winter you can protect yourself from the cold and in summer, if it is sunny, it can also help protect you. All this has to be understood as an extension of the conventional office, so that, at specific times if you so wish, you can choose to work outside.
Beyond the design of projects or collections, GANDIABLASCO encourages a lifestyle. What language does the brand speak that manages to make itself understood everywhere?
We try to create attractive spaces, specifically outside. Spaces where people can enjoy life outdoors with comfortable furniture, in a cozy and charming pergola for example… That is our goal and mission; create those spaces, furniture and pergolas that allow you to enjoy the outdoors in a pleasant way with style and comfort.
GANDIABLASCO has designed an entire conceptual imaginary developed through design, small-scale architecture, industrial production, experimentation with materials… what is the formula that differentiates you from other companies? Where does the evolution of the brand point to?
From the beginning our dream has been to create spaces to enjoy outdoors and this intention has obviously required furniture to sit and lie down on. We also wanted to produce pergolas, these covers that together with the furniture allow you to enjoy the outside. From the beginning, we didn’t just make furniture, we always made, and that’s where Gandiablasco’s history lies, furniture or furniture-pergolas which are seats with a table that are covered by a pergola.
We have always liked to design outdoor spaces in a comprehensive way. Not only designing furniture but also creating shaded, glazed or closed spaces to enjoy the outside. Just as there are companies that from the outset only produce furniture, we have always designed these spaces to be able to enjoy the outdoors beyond a chair or a table. Even with rugs: we have recently been bringing a step forward and in fact this year it will be expressed in the catalogue indeed. We are going to bring together all the different outdoor concepts in a single catalog; that is to say, we are going to unite GANDIABLASCO, Diabla and GAN Outdoor in the same catalog to close the ‘outdoors life’ cycle in a single meeting point.
The new GB MODULAR line and the ISLABLANCA collection, both designed by you and part of the new releases from GANDIABLASCO, both have a certain review of their origins: GBmodular reinterprets and updates the construction system that you devised decades ago in the early days of the company, while Islablanca pays tribute to Ibizan vernacular architecture and its relevance as a historical vestige of Mediterranean culture. What has led you to this rediscovery of the origins and bringing them to contemporary life?
GBmodular is an evolution of our initial construction system, much more complete and sophisticated, which allows you to build any type of furniture, from tables to benches, shelves, separating furniture… It is a new line that is based on a construction system. With the width of a single profile you can build infinite pieces of furniture just by varying the length, that is the gist of GBmodular.
In the case of Islablanca, it means going back to the roots, to the beginnings of GANDIABLASCO, which are in Ibiza. They have always been there, and so we have launched a new collection that continues to be inspired by cubic architecture, with those volumes so characteristic of ancient Ibizan architecture. It is a new version, the initial one was Na Xemena, which has now disappeared and now I have designed a new one that is obviously completely different from Na Xemena. Even the way of building it is also different, but it refers again to this resounding and cubic volumetry of the historic houses of the Ibizan ancestral culture.
You have always been motivated to design to enjoy the outdoors and encourage social interaction, taking into account the environmental and socio-cultural impact of design itself. How would you define the reason for your work today? What creative influences did you focus on at the beginning of your career?
The truth is that I don’t have a particular influence on whom I have based myself in terms of designing everything I have designed during all these years. I think it has been contemporary architecture in general that has inspired me to design the different collections. I never have curves in my works, my thing is right angles, all very architectural, so I would say it is contemporary architecture in general that inspires me.
I do have some architects that I particularly like, Mies van der Rohe for example, who has always been a great inspiration, but when I am actually designing, I don’t think of him. Perhaps, unconsciously, something has come out in my works, but not in an intentional or clear way, I think it goes much further than that.
In the GBmodular system, for example, it is the same again: everything is right angles. There is no direct and clear relationship between everything I have done from the beginning, both in the first collections, with the pergolas, and now in the Islablanca collection… everything revolves around the same idea of contemporary architecture, on a small scale.
What captured you about the design world? What is it that continues to fuel your creative restlessness in this field?
Since I was young, I have always liked to bring spaces and furniture to my ‘territory’, as I would like them to be, so that need for spaces and furniture to be as I would like them is what has led me to design them, because I couldn’t find them myself.
The GANDIABLASCO International Outdoor Furniture Design Contest is celebrating its XV edition this year. What would you highlight about this special event?
We always created this competition with the idea of supporting young designers, motivating them and appreciating their work and rewarding them with a cash prize, and even producing their designs.