Marta Alonso e Imanol Calderón, jury of the 15th GANDIABLASCO Contest
September 21, 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 Marta Alonso and Imanol Calderón, Founders of Mayice Studio and members of the Jury:
1. Your approach to design is based on the search for the soul of materials. With BUIT, your collection for GANDIABLASCO, you pushed aluminium to the limit. How would you define the essence of this material ever-present in the brand?
Aluminium is a very present material in GANDIABLASCO. After looking deeper into the material, we wanted to take its lightness to the limit. Outdoor furniture is usually heavy and sometimes difficult to move, but with BUIT we wanted the opposite, that it was visually light and easy to move, so that it could integrate with the landscape, with the environment. For this reason, a high-quality aluminium die-cut mesh 5754 was chosen to generate form and function. The mesh size and thickness are taken to the extreme, even a little less would not give the same result. We thought that the cast shadow was also a main character, since outdoor furniture is directly related to the sun. We always imagined an aluminium mesh that deforms to build spaces. A vacuum that integrates with the landscape, with the space.
What materials are you currently working with? What projects are ahead?
We’re working with silk lately. In fact, we’ve been working for the past two years on a project for the Suzhou Silk Museum in China – Suzhou Embroidery Museum. We are making more artistic pieces using its ancient technique and taking them to a more contemporary field. We find it incredible that a worm can make a thousand metres of silk to build its chrysalis and become a butterfly after that. We have also seen that it is a very strong material with a magical shine that depending on the point and embroidery can emphasise the reflection of light on the material. One of the pieces we have designed has taken six months of work in the unique hands of HSIU master Zheng Ruying Ms Zhang. They say that if two masters work on the same piece, the difference would be noticeable. It is like writing, the technique and way of embroidering in silk is like painting on a canvas or writing, each master has his own personality and way.
We are also working with wool for a GAN project and some more projects that we still can’t tell you about.
How would you describe the creative process between the design studio and the manufacturers you collaborate with?
For us to work with companies or for ourselves, as well as with institutions or on special projects, it is always the same. We always follow the same processes and always get involved in the same way. It is true that, to continue researching with more time, every two years we try to present a piece designed and edited by us. It is a way to investigate with time and no deadline. Sometimes we apply the results we achieve with light, glass or materials in our own editions to projects destined to companies. We like to carefully study the manufacturing processes, for that we love to visit the workshops, the factories, and to even see the root of the materials, their origin.
DUNE suspension lamp. Madrid Design Festival 2021 exhibition
We believe that conceptualising, bringing into reality and making a design real is not just about drawing and having it developed by others. One has to have the knowledge of how it is manufactured and see all the phases it goes through, and collaborate with specialists and masters in each one step, to be able to design and also to reach an appropriate cost for each project and situation. This knowledge and work system is gradually developed in each project by building relationships and experiences that last over time.
You have studied light in depth and worked extensively on lighting designs. What are the challenges of outdoor lighting?
The relationship with outdoor lighting is something we are currently developing in the studio. We believe that the light from the outside cannot be the same as from the inside. Indoor lighting draws spaces and outdoor lighting is related to the environment, to the vegetation. It has to be just one more element of the environment and it has to be discreet. Also, outside there is always ambient light that you cannot control, it is all a new challenge.
FILAMENTO lamp for LZF lamps
In your projects, crafts and innovation are often connected. How important is craftsmanship for product design, and vice versa?
Craftsmanship is a fundamental tool in design, also cultural. It has a high ratio of improvisation and perfection because you work a lot with your hands, it has a human touch, unique and personal. The union between design and craftsmanship is a feedback loop: when they are in tune the result is usually very satisfactory. When the mastery of a craftsman who has spent his whole life doing the same work is removed from his comfort zone and accepts the challenge of working with a designer, a new connection is born and it is very enriching for both. To create a dialogue between craft and industry is always very complex and full of challenges, but perhaps that is the most interesting part. The industrial process always has to adapt to the craft: combining it with innovation, industrial processes and technology gives magical results.
Lámpara Rfc+ lamp, designed by Mayice Studio for La Real Fábrica de Cristales de la Granja
You have been recognised with different design awards. Are these types of initiatives necessary?
We believe that the awards give value to companies and to the studio. Receiving recognition from a jury or people who observe your work is always satisfactory. Design, same as architecture or art, are creative processes in which the doubts and hours in solitude are many and sometimes one does not have a perspective of what they are creating. Recognition means you are on the right track. The awards are also a very good initiative for the public to know the work behind, and sometimes serves as a stepping stone. On the other hand, when you receive a prize, there is always a greater pressure to make your work better, to reach more, innovate, try not to be repetitive, it is one more job.
NYCxDesign Awards 2019 for BUIT collection
What attributes do you value the most in young designers?
We like to be surprised because young people have a conception of life -sometimes because of their experiences and the current world in which we live- that other generations do not have. We love the naif part as well as the improvisation and bravery, the freshness…
Candidates for the XV Gandiablasco International Outdoor Furniture Design Competition will present their proposals for outdoor offices. Among the positive effects that working in an outdoor work area can involve, which would you highlight?
We would point out freedom, adaptation to different environments and climate change, also the way you work with ambient light. Working outdoors is a luxury.