Houzz Highlighted publication 2016

Spain. June2016


En casa de… Álvaro Catalán de Ocón: Un manifiesto de amor a los objetos

Una antigua fábrica de lámparas reconvertida en casa, estudio y taller de uno de los más singulares diseñadores de lámparas españoles.

Álvaro Catalán de Ocón se asomó al panorama internacional del diseño en 2010, cuando su stand conjunto con su amigo Francesco Faccin ganó el premio del Salone Satellite en Milán. Desde entonces, sus lámparas reduccionistas y evocadoras, en las que una bombilla se enciende al colocarla sobre un soporte, como una vela en un candil, son una referencia imprescindible en el espacio privilegiado de Rossana Orlandi en cada Salone milanés. Álvaro produce él mismo la mayor parte de sus diseños desde un antiguo espacio industrial situado en el oeste de Madrid, su ciudad natal, que, después de vivir en Milán, Londres y Barcelona, transformó en vivienda, estudio y taller. Como en un guiño del destino, en tiempos fue una fábrica de lámparas.

La vivienda, el taller y el estudio se sitúan en la primera planta, mientras que la baja queda reservada al almacén.
“Separamos perfectamente los distintos usos y actividades. El taller y el estudio ocupan la parte anterior, junto al acceso, y la sala de reuniones y la cocina actúan de elemento de transición”, dice Álvaro. “Una lámpara Cornucopia junto al acceso a la vivienda (a la izquierda del diseñador en la foto) sirve para señalar si se puede acceder o no a la zona privada según esté apagada o encendida. Incluso mi hija ha aprendido a interpretarlo y a respetarlo”.

Arts, Crafts and Design Highlighted publication 2015

Italy. 2015


Alvaro Catalán de Ocón studied in London and Milan, where I interviewed him while he was preparing for the 2015 Salone del Mobile (in partnership with Francesco Faccin, his good friend and colleague). Important museums and galleries all over the World have exhibited his Works and awarded him prizes and nominations. In recent years, the Madrid-based designer has attracted attention for the project that started his carrer as a designer-entrepreneur. Combining collaborations with different companies and his innate vocation for self-production.
QUESTION: Alvaro, tell us the story of the PET Lamp project, with which you transform recycled plastic bottles into unique lamps.

ANSWER: In 2011 I was invited to Columbia to participate in a project to raise awareness on the difficult issue of plastic bottle disposal in the Colombian Amazon hmong the community and the government. The following year, with the patronage of Coca-Cola and the cooperation of Artesanía de Colombia, I organised a Workshop with the artisan sommunity of Cauca to elaborate on the idea of recycling and transformation. The first results of this project were exhibited in 2013 at the Galleria Rossana Orlandi, in Milan. The neck of the bottle, round and transparent, sparked the idea of the lamps, and a stripped bamboo utensil that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony, very similar to a bottle, inspired the technique for cutting and weaving plastic with other fibres to create lampshades that are always different from one another.

QUESTION: Since then, the project has been replicated in other countries and the lamps have taken on a life of their own.

ANSWER: Exactly. The experience in Colombia made me realise the potential of this project, which is both social and cultural, and an opportunity to establish microenterprise from which the local communities can benefit economicaly (4000 pieces from the Colombian collection have been sold in two years). The artisans make the lampshades that are assembled and cabled in my Madrid Studio, where seven employees dedicate 70% of their time to the PET Lamp project. Then the lamps are distributed around the world, because there is hardly any local demand, since folk handicrafts are little appreciated in the communities where they are made. Instead, we introduce them in the circuit of design, which makes the difference. Most people buy the lamps because they like the design, and only later do they realise that there is a bottle inside. They understand in a retrospect the story of my creations, which are the product of a global industrial object (which has a very short lifespan but is almost structible) with the material, expressive skill behind a tradicional textile production with strong local roots.
QUESTION: Did the project evolve in terms of manufacturing processes?

ANSWER: Each community interprets the concept individually. My collaborators and I explain the process and they in turn show us their techniques. In this way, we provide inspiration without imposing precise instructions. After Colombia, we replicated the project in Chile, where the artisians used wicker to create large, light and self-supporting designs. We then moved to Addis Abada, in Ethiopia, where we worked with an all-female community. The design of the lamp was modified again to adapt to their spiral weaving technique, which they use to make the containers for injera, Ethiopian traditional bread. The bottle is cut but woven, which enabled us to make lampshades that are more suitable for large rooms and that can also afford some acoustic isolation and protection. Then i spent three weeks in Kyoto, in Japan, where a journalist invited us to work with local bamboo artisans. Their lamps were exhibited at 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo.

QUESTION: Tell us about the project that baffled everyone at last year´s edition of the Salone del Mobile.
ANSWER: In the Home/Office chair we use embroidery (perfectly executed by a Bulgarian lady living in Madrid whom I discovered) to interpret the iconic Aluminium Chair by Charles and Ray Eames, made in Europe by Vitra. The starting point is certainly linked to the PET Lamp concept, but here it takes on a slightly iconoclastic Twist. Or, rather: what is considered an industrial chair is no less artisanal that many handmade objects, in terms of its production precess. The addition of embroidery destabilises and at the same time transforms a “serious” piece of office forniture into something more reassuring. To the point that it won the approval of Vitra´s owner, who included my versiono f the famous chair in his range!
QUESTION: What is your opinion on the new interest of designers, particularly young ones, in the crafts?
ANSWER: Today, as befote, it is very difficult to become an industrial designer. My generation has realised that it must apply the methodology of design in all sectors. Just think of the achievements of designers such as Piet Hein Eek, who has practically set up an industry of his own. The crafts are at the heart of industrial design. Companies like Thonet are the industrial outcome of an artisanal process. Today production can be adapted to the designer, combining exceptional detail with volumes that can vary acording to one´s needs: from a few dozen to hunreds of pieces. Designers must understand how to approach this new and interesting scenario.

AD Highlighted publication 2015

Spain. October2015



Muchas LUCES
Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, autor de lámparas irrepetibles, diseña y vive en una antigua fábrica de pantallas al este del río Manzanares que reformó con ingenio y economía de medios.

Decasa tv channel Highlighted publication 2014

Spain. 2014

Álvaro catalán de Ocón teje con artesanías de Colombia

Este diseñador español busca la sencillez y apuesta por la interacción que suscita cada uno de sus objetos con el entorno. La PET Lamp, realizada junto con artesanos colombianos, es una de sus creaciones más reconocidas.

El madrileño Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, diseñador industrial galardonado con el primer premio del Design Plus Award en 2007, de la feria Light+Building en Fráncfort, y el Design Report Award en 2010, se caracteriza por la expresividad estética, la pureza formal y el sentido práctico de sus productos. Cada uno de sus diseños revela el material utilizado, la versatilidad del proceso de fabricación y el diálogo con el usuario.

En 1999, Catalán de Ocón se graduó de Administración y Dirección de Empresas. No obstante, ese mismo año inició sus estudios de Diseño Industrial en el Istituto Europeo di Design, en Milán, para un año más tarde trasladarse a Londres y continuar su formación en la Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. “Lo que me acercó al diseño fue mi interés por la arquitectura, la pintura, la escultura, la música, el cine…, creo que ese bagaje con el que llegué le ha dado una perspectiva diferente a mi trabajo”, afirma Catalán de Ocón. AXXIS lo entrevistó en exclusiva.

¿Qué lo motiva y apasiona del diseño de objetos?
No me considero un diseñador formalista y por lo tanto no es la imagen del producto lo que me motiva. A lo largo de mi carrera he identificado diferentes actitudes en cuanto a cómo me enfrento a un proyecto. Por un lado están los basados en el material o en el proceso de producción, como la mesa Prima, donde la solución mecánica se convierte en el ornamento de la misma. En otros, como Cornucopia, Candil o La Flaca, parto de aspectos más poéticos y el punto de inspiración proviene del modo en el que se interactúa con la pieza y los recuerdos de esa experiencia, la creación trasciende al propio objeto y entra en el campo de la memoria y narrativa. Por último y especialmente en el reciente trabajo que he desarrollado en Colombia, la PET Lamp, se ha añadido un fuerte componente social y ecológico, además de colaborar con artesanos y no únicamente con la industria.

En la actualidad, ¿quiénes son sus principales referentes y cómo han influenciado sus proyectos?
De los clásicos, Castiglioni, Enzo Mari, Munari, los Eames…, los considero mis bases. De generaciones posteriores, sobre todo a Jasper Morrison, por su cálido minimalismo y rigor, y Maarten van Severen, por cómo gestionó su estudio, que pasó de la auto producción a su colaboración con Vitra, justo antes de su muerte prematura. Recuerdo que el grupo holandés Droog Design fue como un jarro de agua fría cuando lo descubrí en mi primera Feria de Milán hacia el 2000.

Cuéntenos sobre su proceso de diseño…
Resulta muy difícil entender tu propio método o de dónde proviene la inspiración. Creo que en mi caso se basa principalmente en la observación y el análisis. Luego es un proceso mental donde todos esos influjos convienen en la cabeza y de las colisiones entre ellos surgen las chispas para comenzar a trabajar. No suelo dibujar casi nunca, ni hago estudios de mercado ni uso ninguna de esas técnicas que recomiendan en la universidad. Algo que me ayuda es enfrentarme a un único proyecto al año; me permite concentrarme y llegar hasta el fondo, abarcar todas las fases de lo que supone su materialización.

¿Cuáles de los objetos que ha diseñado son sus predilectos?
Quizá de todos sea Cornucopia la que más me ha marcado. Fue un producto de fin de carrera y me ha guiado por muchos años, transformándose en otros proyectos como el Candil o La Flaca. En ella el principio del reduccionismo está llevado al límite y autoproducirla supuso la mejor escuela posible ya que concentra en sus tres piezas los procesos básicos: el corte, plegado y acabado de plancha metálica; el estampado de una pieza de caucho a partir de un molde, y el torneado de una barra de latón. PET Lamp también ha sido muy especial ya que el objetivo era diseñar un método de trabajo para transformar una botella PET en una pantalla para una lámpara. Debía ser fácilmente comprensible por cualquier artesano, sin necesidad de herramientas complejas y exportable a cualquier lugar del mundo.

¿Cómo ha desarrollado su carrera en España en un época de crisis económica?
Gracias a la globalización hoy se llega a un mercado antes inaccesible. Soy consciente de que mis productos son de nicho, pero ahora puedo tocar una inmensa minoría. En cuanto a la crisis, en general nos ha permitido producir de manera local ya que las industrias abren las puertas para fabricar en pequeña escala, algo que no ocurría.

¿Cuáles son sus planes? ¿En qué tipo de proyectos le gustaría estar involucrado?
Realmente me cuesta trabajo pensar cómo será mi futuro. Quisiera dar continuidad al proyecto PET Lamp y llevarlo a otros países. En estos momentos estamos desarrollando en Chile y se han abierto puertas para Japón, Guatemala, México. Este año voy a intervenir un objeto industrial con una técnica textil artesanal. Aún queda algo para su desarrollo, pero la idea consiste en presentarlo en la Feria del Mueble de Milán, en la Galleria Orlandi. Lo bueno es que estoy en la fase de la duda y eso quiere decir que algo hay en él que merece la pena.

Art and Design Highlighted publication 2014

China. Nr243. 2014

cover-Art-and-Design-2014-04

Álvaro catalán de Ocón teje con artesanías de Colombia

Este diseñador español busca la sencillez y apuesta por la interacción que suscita cada uno de sus objetos con el entorno. La PET Lamp, realizada junto con artesanos colombianos, es una de sus creaciones más reconocidas.

El madrileño Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, diseñador industrial galardonado con el primer premio del Design Plus Award en 2007, de la feria Light+Building en Fráncfort, y el Design Report Award en 2010, se caracteriza por la expresividad estética, la pureza formal y el sentido práctico de sus productos. Cada uno de sus diseños revela el material utilizado, la versatilidad del proceso de fabricación y el diálogo con el usuario.

En 1999, Catalán de Ocón se graduó de Administración y Dirección de Empresas. No obstante, ese mismo año inició sus estudios de Diseño Industrial en el Istituto Europeo di Design, en Milán, para un año más tarde trasladarse a Londres y continuar su formación en la Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.
“Lo que me acercó al diseño fue mi interés por la arquitectura, la pintura, la escultura, la música, el cine…, creo que ese bagaje con el que llegué le ha dado una perspectiva diferente a mi trabajo”, afirma Catalán de Ocón. AXXIS lo entrevistó en exclusiva.

¿Qué lo motiva y apasiona del diseño de objetos?
No me considero un diseñador formalista y por lo tanto no es la imagen del producto lo que me motiva. A lo largo de mi carrera he identificado diferentes actitudes en cuanto a cómo me enfrento a un proyecto. Por un lado están los basados en el material o en el proceso de producción, como la mesa Prima, donde la solución mecánica se convierte en el ornamento de la misma. En otros, como Cornucopia, Candil o La Flaca, parto de aspectos más poéticos y el punto de inspiración proviene del modo en el que se interactúa con la pieza y los recuerdos de esa experiencia, la creación trasciende al propio objeto y entra en el campo de la memoria y narrativa. Por último y especialmente en el reciente trabajo que he desarrollado en Colombia, la PET Lamp, se ha añadido un fuerte componente social y ecológico, además de colaborar con artesanos y no únicamente con la industria.

En la actualidad, ¿quiénes son sus principales referentes y cómo han influenciado sus proyectos?
De los clásicos, Castiglioni, Enzo Mari, Munari, los Eames…, los considero mis bases. De generaciones posteriores, sobre todo a Jasper Morrison, por su cálido minimalismo y rigor, y Maarten van Severen, por cómo gestionó su estudio, que pasó de la auto producción a su colaboración con Vitra, justo antes de su muerte prematura. Recuerdo que el grupo holandés Droog Design fue como un jarro de agua fría cuando lo descubrí en mi primera Feria de Milán hacia el 2000.

Cuéntenos sobre su proceso de diseño…
Resulta muy difícil entender tu propio método o de dónde proviene la inspiración. Creo que en mi caso se basa principalmente en la observación y el análisis. Luego es un proceso mental donde todos esos influjos convienen en la cabeza y de las colisiones entre ellos surgen las chispas para comenzar a trabajar. No suelo dibujar casi nunca, ni hago estudios de mercado ni uso ninguna de esas técnicas que recomiendan en la universidad. Algo que me ayuda es enfrentarme a un único proyecto al año; me permite concentrarme y llegar hasta el fondo, abarcar todas las fases de lo que supone su materialización.

¿Cuáles de los objetos que ha diseñado son sus predilectos?
Quizá de todos sea Cornucopia la que más me ha marcado. Fue un producto de fin de carrera y me ha guiado por muchos años, transformándose en otros proyectos como el Candil o La Flaca. En ella el principio del reduccionismo está llevado al límite y autoproducirla supuso la mejor escuela posible ya que concentra en sus tres piezas los procesos básicos: el corte, plegado y acabado de plancha metálica; el estampado de una pieza de caucho a partir de un molde, y el torneado de una barra de latón. PET Lamp también ha sido muy especial ya que el objetivo era diseñar un método de trabajo para transformar una botella PET en una pantalla para una lámpara. Debía ser fácilmente comprensible por cualquier artesano, sin necesidad de herramientas complejas y exportable a cualquier lugar del mundo.

¿Cómo ha desarrollado su carrera en España en un época de crisis económica?
Gracias a la globalización hoy se llega a un mercado antes inaccesible. Soy consciente de que mis productos son de nicho, pero ahora puedo tocar una inmensa minoría. En cuanto a la crisis, en general nos ha permitido producir de manera local ya que las industrias abren las puertas para fabricar en pequeña escala, algo que no ocurría.

¿Cuáles son sus planes? ¿En qué tipo de proyectos le gustaría estar involucrado?
Realmente me cuesta trabajo pensar cómo será mi futuro. Quisiera dar continuidad al proyecto PET Lamp y llevarlo a otros países. En estos momentos estamos desarrollando en Chile y se han abierto puertas para Japón, Guatemala, México. Este año voy a intervenir un objeto industrial con una técnica textil artesanal. Aún queda algo para su desarrollo, pero la idea consiste en presentarlo en la Feria del Mueble de Milán, en la Galleria Orlandi. Lo bueno es que estoy en la fase de la duda y eso quiere decir que algo hay en él que merece la pena.

Axxis Highlighted publication 2014

Colombia. Nr243. 2014


Álvaro catalán de Ocón teje con artesanías de Colombia

Este diseñador español busca la sencillez y apuesta por la interacción que suscita cada uno de sus objetos con el entorno. La PET Lamp, realizada junto con artesanos colombianos, es una de sus creaciones más reconocidas.

El madrileño Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, diseñador industrial galardonado con el primer premio del Design Plus Award en 2007, de la feria Light+Building en Fráncfort, y el Design Report Award en 2010, se caracteriza por la expresividad estética, la pureza formal y el sentido práctico de sus productos. Cada uno de sus diseños revela el material utilizado, la versatilidad del proceso de fabricación y el diálogo con el usuario.

En 1999, Catalán de Ocón se graduó de Administración y Dirección de Empresas. No obstante, ese mismo año inició sus estudios de Diseño Industrial en el Istituto Europeo di Design, en Milán, para un año más tarde trasladarse a Londres y continuar su formación en la Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. “Lo que me acercó al diseño fue mi interés por la arquitectura, la pintura, la escultura, la música, el cine…, creo que ese bagaje con el que llegué le ha dado una perspectiva diferente a mi trabajo”, afirma Catalán de Ocón. AXXIS lo entrevistó en exclusiva.

¿Qué lo motiva y apasiona del diseño de objetos?
No me considero un diseñador formalista y por lo tanto no es la imagen del producto lo que me motiva. A lo largo de mi carrera he identificado diferentes actitudes en cuanto a cómo me enfrento a un proyecto. Por un lado están los basados en el material o en el proceso de producción, como la mesa Prima, donde la solución mecánica se convierte en el ornamento de la misma. En otros, como Cornucopia, Candil o La Flaca, parto de aspectos más poéticos y el punto de inspiración proviene del modo en el que se interactúa con la pieza y los recuerdos de esa experiencia, la creación trasciende al propio objeto y entra en el campo de la memoria y narrativa. Por último y especialmente en el reciente trabajo que he desarrollado en Colombia, la PET Lamp, se ha añadido un fuerte componente social y ecológico, además de colaborar con artesanos y no únicamente con la industria.

En la actualidad, ¿quiénes son sus principales referentes y cómo han influenciado sus proyectos?
De los clásicos, Castiglioni, Enzo Mari, Munari, los Eames…, los considero mis bases. De generaciones posteriores, sobre todo a Jasper Morrison, por su cálido minimalismo y rigor, y Maarten van Severen, por cómo gestionó su estudio, que pasó de la auto producción a su colaboración con Vitra, justo antes de su muerte prematura. Recuerdo que el grupo holandés Droog Design fue como un jarro de agua fría cuando lo descubrí en mi primera Feria de Milán hacia el 2000.

Cuéntenos sobre su proceso de diseño…
Resulta muy difícil entender tu propio método o de dónde proviene la inspiración. Creo que en mi caso se basa principalmente en la observación y el análisis. Luego es un proceso mental donde todos esos influjos convienen en la cabeza y de las colisiones entre ellos surgen las chispas para comenzar a trabajar. No suelo dibujar casi nunca, ni hago estudios de mercado ni uso ninguna de esas técnicas que recomiendan en la universidad. Algo que me ayuda es enfrentarme a un único proyecto al año; me permite concentrarme y llegar hasta el fondo, abarcar todas las fases de lo que supone su materialización.

¿Cuáles de los objetos que ha diseñado son sus predilectos?
Quizá de todos sea Cornucopia la que más me ha marcado. Fue un producto de fin de carrera y me ha guiado por muchos años, transformándose en otros proyectos como el Candil o La Flaca. En ella el principio del reduccionismo está llevado al límite y autoproducirla supuso la mejor escuela posible ya que concentra en sus tres piezas los procesos básicos: el corte, plegado y acabado de plancha metálica; el estampado de una pieza de caucho a partir de un molde, y el torneado de una barra de latón. PET Lamp también ha sido muy especial ya que el objetivo era diseñar un método de trabajo para transformar una botella PET en una pantalla para una lámpara. Debía ser fácilmente comprensible por cualquier artesano, sin necesidad de herramientas complejas y exportable a cualquier lugar del mundo.

¿Cómo ha desarrollado su carrera en España en un época de crisis económica?
Gracias a la globalización hoy se llega a un mercado antes inaccesible. Soy consciente de que mis productos son de nicho, pero ahora puedo tocar una inmensa minoría. En cuanto a la crisis, en general nos ha permitido producir de manera local ya que las industrias abren las puertas para fabricar en pequeña escala, algo que no ocurría.

¿Cuáles son sus planes? ¿En qué tipo de proyectos le gustaría estar involucrado?
Realmente me cuesta trabajo pensar cómo será mi futuro. Quisiera dar continuidad al proyecto PET Lamp y llevarlo a otros países. En estos momentos estamos desarrollando en Chile y se han abierto puertas para Japón, Guatemala, México. Este año voy a intervenir un objeto industrial con una técnica textil artesanal. Aún queda algo para su desarrollo, pero la idea consiste en presentarlo en la Feria del Mueble de Milán, en la Galleria Orlandi. Lo bueno es que estoy en la fase de la duda y eso quiere decir que algo hay en él que merece la pena.

AD, Spain Highlighted publication 2014

Spain. March2014

Álvaro Catalán de Ocón cree que la forma viene dada por la idea, que menos es más y que lo mejor es hacerlo tu mismo.

Valiente, emprendedor y pragmático, 2013 ha sido la consagración del Premio Heineken para Nuevos valores con el proyecto “PET Lamp”.

A muchos hacer mili les servía para salir de su pueblo y ampliar horizontes. A Álvaro Catalán de Ocón (Madrid, 1975) le supuso un conveniente paréntesis a mitad de su carrera de Empresariales en el que se replanteó su futuro y decidió tomar otro camino. “En Madrid no había cultura de diseño, pensaba que eran los arquitectos quienes lo hacían y, de hecho, me planteé serlo, en mi vocación frustrada. Terminé los dos años que me quedaban y con 24 años decidí estudiar Diseño Industrial”, recuerda.

Corría 1999. Eligió el Istituto Europeo di Design de Milán. “Era la meca, la cuna del diseño industrial italiano, y en España no había un título oficial que luego te permitiera hacer un doctorado. Allí adquirí una cultura muy buena de la creación de los 60 y 70: Castiglioni, Mari, Munari…”. Pero le pareció un sistema rígido y encorsetado y al año siguiente cambió de escenario. “Londres estaba en plena ebullición con el movimiento del Royal College of Arts, estaban Jasper Morrison, Tom Dixon y Ron Arad. Todo era muy libre, te daban un brief y dos semanas para hacer lo que quisieras, buscabas tus referentes. Algunos profesores no daban clase, acudías a ellos si necesitabas ayuda. Para mí, con la edad que tenía, era más adecuado”. Y esta vez sí: tres años después de graduó en Product Design.

Catalán de Ocón ha tenido desde el principio las ideas claras, una mentalidad pragmática, y una querencia por la iluminación. Sus dos proyectos de fin de carrera, dos inusuales luminarias, GlowBrick y Cornucopia, encontraron productor, la británica Suck UK. De la primera, una bombilla fotoluminiscente encapsulada en resina, se han vendido hasta la fecha más de 200.000 unidades. Con ese dinero decidió mudarse de nuevo, esta vez a Barcelona. “Un piso allí me costaba lo mismo que una habitación en Londres y necesitaba un par de años para desarrollar algo nuevo”. A pesar de ese arranque de la mano de la industria, y exceptuando los dos ejemplos anteriores y la lámpara LaFlaca que produjo Metalarte, Álvaro fabrica él mismo sus diseños. “Siempre he apostado por la autoproducción que ahora está tan de moda. Trabajo mucho sobre el material directamente, sobre el prototipo. No me sale mandar un dibujo para que lo desarrollen. Pero no me cierro a colaborar con empresas. Te ayudan a llevar un proyecto a un nivel superior y a un mercado mayor. Pero otras piezas, por su coste o complejidad, no tienen sentido en sus foros. No voy a dejar de llevar a cabo una idea porque no encuentre ese canal”.

Con la misma determinación supo desde el principio que para triunfar había que salir fuera. Desde 2007 acudió al Salone Satellite de la Feria de Milán para creadores emergentes. En 2010, si stand conjunto con su amigo Francesco Faccin ganó el premio del Satellite y de ahí se presentó en persona a ver a Rossana Orlandi con los Candiles, unas lámparas de madera y cobre que usan el metal como conductor de la electricidad y se encienden a apagan apostando la bombilla, sin necesidad de enroscarla. En el siguiente Salone del Mobile obtuvo uno de los codiciados huecos de su Spazio, y desde entonces lleva repitiendo. “Siempre he sabido que Madrid era mi base pero no mi mercado. Aquí trabajo y después viajo y enseño”. 2013 ha sido su año, PET Lamp, un proyecto independiente que comenzó auspiciado por Coca-Cola, ha puesto su apellido en el punto de mira y racimos de ellas cuelgan de los techos de referentes estéticos como Merci en París o The Conran Shop en Londres. Estando en Colombia le invitaron a inventar un objeto con botellas de refresco de plástico. ¿Y que se le ocurrió a Catalán de Ocón? Lámparas, su objeto fetiche, con pantallas trenzadas por artesanos indígenas desplazados por la guerrilla a Bogotá. Si hasta ahora sus piezas habían tenido un perfil pulido, geométrico, seriado y tecnológico, aquí cambian de forma radical y se transmutan en únicas, artesanales, coloristas y llenas de folclore.

“Mis proyectos anteriores son más nicho y PET es más masivo en el sentido de que es más fotogénico, más inmediato, más visual, más exótico y ha surgido en un momento en que lo ecológico, social y artesanal está en boga”, explica. Sin embargo, apunta que la filosofía que se esconde detrás de todo lo que hace es la misma. “Creo en el reduccionismo, es un valor lineal en mi carrera. En este último proyecto, mi tarea como diseñador ha sido reducir el trabajo de transformación de una lámpara a lo más sencillo. Es un objeto industrial con una artesanía que existe en todo el mundo. Siguiendo mi línea de trabajo he llegado a una estética diferente a la que suelo mostrar. No soy formalista. Creo que la forma sigue a la idea. Puedes llegar a una forma estética y atractiva pero no buscada sino encontrada”, desgrana a modo de credo. Ante el rotundo triunfo de las PET Lamps, el reto es no morir de éxito y encontrar el difícil equilibrio entre fabricación y tiempo para explorar nuevos derroteros. Parece que lo consigue. Mientras remesas de pantallas llegan de Colombia para terminarse de montar en su nueva casa-estudio de Madrid (que, cosas de karma, fue una antigua fábrica de lámparas), Álvaro ya casi tiene cerrado confeccionar pantallas de mimbre en Chile con la misma filosofía y, en un futuro cercano, también en Japón, y ultima los detalles de las sillas de oficina bordadas en petit point que presentará en abril en Milán. “Las considero más bien un gesto. Se trata de seguir interviniendo sobre un objeto industrial con la mano del artesano más cualificado y que esa acción tuviera una serie de beneficios sociales”. De nuevo elije poner una impronta humana a un objeto seriado como valor diferenciador. “Ahora hay exceso de diseñadores y no hacen falta tantos objetos, no estamos en la posguerra donde había que reconstruir el mundo. No se necesita una silla más, hay miles magníficas”. Lo tiene clarísimo.

Domus Highlighted publication 2013

Italy. Issue967. March2013

Charting new territories of design

They say there’s no such thing as coincidence – it’s just hard to explain how coincidental things occur. But in the case of Alvaro Catalán de Ocón and Francesco Faccin, it’s all crystal clear. Designers and friends since university in Milan, they worked together on experiments and projects in London and Barcelona and were fellow exhibitors in Milan at the 2010 Salone Satellite. Their design outlooks matured on the same fertile ground, in a mutually dialectical evaluation of each other’s idea. After this shared point of departure they pursued professional paths in different cities, but it came as no suprise even to them to find that they were working on similar projects practically at the same time. Their respective schemes were rooted in arduous territories culturally and technologically far removed from their own, yet infinitely more stimulating and future-oriented. An unspoken dialogue between Milan and Madrid also brought them, metaphorically speaking, to the same place. The stories of their latest two projects differ, but reveal the same attitude to the role of the designer today.

Alvaro has his office in Madrid, but he has been travelling regularly to Colombia in recent years because his wife, Juana Miranda, who is a textile designer, was born there. He is well aware that one of the country’s biggest problem is refuse disposal and recycling, especially of plastic bottles, which, after being used for a few minutes, are often swept by heavy rains into rivers and from there into sea. This calamity is responsible for vast marine “garbage patched”, five of which were discovered on the oceans between the 1960s and the 1980s, covering an area larger than the United States according to radical estimates. Having missed the opportunity to take part in Isla de Agua, a project run by the Artesanías de Colombia association centered on recycling PET bottles, Alvaro decided to develop the theme in his own way.

He shifted the focus to the concept to reuse, not only of the bottles but also of the textile techniques practiced by local communities. Both were neglected resources that could be reused to produce a new object. the idea took shape by carefully observing the technical and structural characteristics of the bottle: its narrow sturdy neck, its body as an extensive workable area, and the transparency of its material. The logical result of that research was to create a lamp. “My initial inspiration for the design came after looking at an implement for removing the used tea leaves in Japanese tea ceremonies, which consisted of nothing but a piece of ‘stripped’ bamboo”, says Alvaro. “I thought of transferring this technique to the bottle, with a weft and warp in plastic and natural fibres. By combining a global object like the PET bottle and a global craft like weaving, a fruitful encounter between design and handicrafts was created.”

Test on the idea’s potential to be turned into a design product convinced Alvaro to progress to the development phase in Colombia, a country particularly rich in traditional communities and techniques. Its Atlantic and Pacific coast display the influence of African and Asian cultures, while history had added those of the colonialists and pre-Columbian traditions. However, as a field of action, this was too vast. The solution was to explore the communities run by the Artesanías de Colombia, an enterprise consisting of native artisans who have settle in Bogotà, either because there were ex-guerrilleros or because guerilla warfare had deprived them of their livelihoods in the Guambianos mountain communities and those of the Eperara-Siapidara in the Cauca Valley. Their participation was enthusiastic because they immediately felt they were truly part of the project, as well as seing it as an opportunity to escape from a tough life. Fore the women in particular, weaving is a way of socialising.
The fair trade of skills that ensued frome the workshop held last August resulted in the PET Lamps, with local artisans freely interpreting the idea launched by the designer. Effectively representating an extension of the locals’ way of being, the lamps have the same patterns and colours as their clothes, hats, baskets. These craftpeople used the new material in their usual free-and-easy way, as with natural fibres, cutting it in the same thickness, subdividing it into groups of even or uneven strips, choosing the design, and twisting the yarns in different ways to achieve a shiny or opaque effect. “ I realised the project would work when I saw people going round the streets looking for bottle of the right colour, shape and condition for what they had in mind”, explain Alvaro. Each object is unique, in the best artisan tradition, even if it is made with a systematical prcess that involves a complex production and distribution chain.cess that involves a complex production and distribution chain. The semi-finished product made by the artisans arrives at Alvaro’s office, where the light source, electrical wiring and weights to stabilise the diffuser are added. The lamps can be sold and distributed in Colombia directly by the native communities or local bodies, or exported to Europe though the Catalán de Ocón office which markets them via the Web or directs them to the galleries and outlets n its network. The PET Lamps are not designed according to the rules of copyright, but of copyleft, with great creative and organisational freedom. What matters is to rid the streets, and hence the oceans, of as many bottles as possible. “I want this project to leave my sphere of control. I like not having to define its details, as I usually do”, he tell us. “My dream is to come across the lamps hanging in a bar on the beach, frequented by customers who don’t know the lamps are made from reused bottle.”
The project has even found a sponsor: Coca-Cola. The work of Francesco Faccin in Nairobi is market by a revers situation, but with the same appreciation of local “technologies” in the development of a copyleft design, in the making of benches, desks and window frames for a new school in the Mathare community, named the Why Not Academy. The project was commissioned to Francesco by the Italian NGO Liveinslums, which has offices in Milan, Cairo and Nairobi and had already been directly engages in the struggle to encourage children not been directly engaged in the struggle to encourage children not to abandon schooling in the shanty town inhabited by 600,000 people. Built by the whole community using mud and bamboo on a wood frame, the school was designed by Gaetano Berni, Maria Luisa Daglia, Luca Astorri, Francesco Segre Reinach and Davide Pedemonte. The need for equipment and furniture, meanwhile, was met by engaging local workers on the basis of the Liveinslums philosophy, wich sees its communities os the main players in the transformation process.

Working in a country without resources and technology was the starting point and challenge of Francesco’s work. He knew he had to operate on a site using only basics tools brought from Italy. Futhermore, with no machinery, an unreliable electricity supply and locally sourced raw materials, any inconveniences encountered during the construction would have to be resolved with an impromtu approach (for example, a blacksmith mended broken equipment using a long nail). Francesco was also aware that his construction plan would have to be simple and flexible, so that it could be developed autonomously as a sort of inheritance left to the community.

The construction system is based on a single 1-metre-long box-sectioned lath of local wood, similar to mahogany, measuring 30 by 30 milimetres. Ordered from a carpentry shop in Nairobi, it is assembled like Lego to make three types of furniture, which are combined with plywood sufaces painted with a slate effect. The laths are exploited to the maximum, and the screw holes are very carefully prepared. “I created a primitive error-proof assembly lines”, says Francesco. “This system is ideal to make benches of three different sizes, according to the student’s age. Once a simplification factor had been introduced, and a rapid, repetitive production method established, everything went smoothly. There was no room for experimentation, since time could only be dedicated to the project while the kids were having their lessons, and I could use the services of a work team of two children to handle school maintenance”.
Design served only to simplify. The most important thing was the process, which proved fundamental in a country that does not think in terms of design but of immediate survival. The approach here is the same as in Colombia, where Alvaro started from an idea to create a system that he then left to be continued locally. The designer’s role in these two cases is immersed deeper within the project, and the approach adopted is broader than that of traditional practice. A new definition of autorship is also created as an alternative to the canonical model, while demonstrating that there is still much to be designed.
For Francesco, this is the most intelligent way of going about design today. “Designing really makes sense in situation like these, where you’re working with a sensitive client. In Italy, and generally in more ‘advanced’ societies, design is worn out, exept in more scientific or extreme areas of research, such as Marcin Jakubowski’s open-souce ecology projects. To change a system that doen’t work we need to leave it and create new rules”.

It was these factors that spurred Alvaro’s search for alternative outlets, along with the difficulty of finding companies that would let him work on projects which he could not have developed on his own. His philosophy to combat a system that produces too much and badly is to do less but better, by working on small-scale editions that are then perfected on each new occasion: one project per year. Indeed, even a success corporation such as Apple operates according to a similar choice, working for years to perfect and renew the same “technological boxes”.
Both designers here are firmly convinced of the potential offered by this new way forward. For Francesco, the Mathare project immediately led onto other projects of the same kind and in Milan, incredibly enough. In order of time, the first initiative has been a new restaurant along the city’s Navigli canals, which will principally be furnished with items mades by a prison workshop – which Francesco coordinates on behalf of Liveinslums – as well as with Alvaro’s Colombian lamps, of course.

AD, Spain Highlighted publication 2013

Spain. July/August. Issue82. 2013

El Duende Highlighted publication 2011

Spain. Issue111. February2011

 
ALVARO CATALAN DE OCAN: THROWING LIGHT

With a foot and a half in the international market, Alvaro Catalán de Ocón (Madrid, 1975) is one of the Spanish designers with the greatest potential for the future. His light has already shone with strength, for example, in Frankfurt, where he received the Design Plus Award, 2008 for his Lajilaca luminary, or Milán, where, jointly with his colleague Francesco Faccin, received the Design Report Award in the Salone Satellite 2010 for his Pielettrico luminary.

It rains heavily in Madrid. The gray morning and small windows accentuate the mystery and warmth of the ingenuous luminaries lighted in the study of Alvaro Catalán de Ocón. What before was, casually, an old lamp factory, continues to be, but a lower scale, almost handmade. The space, shared with two other creators, is now a workshop in which design planes, disassembled pieces and plants of all types are observed. There is a special atmosphere of intelligence and sensitivity. His work philosophy consists in obviating the superfluous and accentuating the essential. “For me, a lamp is only three pieces. A positive pole, a negative pole and an insulator. The materials depend on those functions. You discard until there is only what you need exclusively, and in such way you optimize”, he affirms. After studying business, he studied industrial design in prestigious schools –IED of Milán, Saint Martin´s in London- which conditioned his future: “My style arises from the Cornucopia luminary, as a petition done to me at the university with a very concrete, limiting brief. Those limitations have marked my work. And I like this issue of one work leading to another, so as a chain”. It is strange that his luminaries have even one switch: in the Cornucopia you remove the bulb from the cap, placing it in another position; in others, like is his Candil, or his star design, Lapieza, is the rubbing of your fingers what turns on and off and changes light intensity.

What light do you seek to create? The light that surprises you. I think that my works has a first, second and third reading…For example, the Cornucopia has a characteristic sound –the metal is scratched when removing the bulb- and you associate it the metal with the bulb when you use the latter. More than being able to give a punctual, technical light, I am interested in this. Candil inspired in that same object, sums up perfectionism itself: “This way of interacting has led me to play in a poetic manner with the bulb. Candil came to substitute the candle, 150 years ago, and the candle has certain connotations, rituality and it is still used, even though it is obsolete, to create an atmosphere. I looked for the iconic bulb, with the brass cap –he found it only in Germany- with the appropriate strength so that it does not blind, that no screen is needed, that it stays raw; the sheet itself is a frame for the bulbs… I think that once the designer has to take decisions, the material takes them”.
His pieces are exhibited in art galleries, even in ARCO Madrid 2011 we will see them, and sells some in the Guggenheim Bilbao store.

Are you closer to art than to design? For my way of working, I like to get my hands stained, manufacture the prototype almost definitely, and let the material guide me. I make contact with workshops, artisans … And that is richness for the designer. It seems that the latter moves away from the industry. I believe it is due to market saturation. In the post war products were scarce. Today you move to a city and in two months you have the entire house. Before the industry came to request you a product. But today the designer has to look for the company. The system is not natural, I think. So you take projects that the industry does not demand. You become a seller, in addition to designer. Besides, today there is a tendency to sell a sensation, more than a product. His speech transfers, as expected, to packaging: “A product is not only the object; you can embody it, including the box, the instructions, the replacement bulbs, etc. I do it because I like to do things well. The planet no longer sustains itself this way, and it is immoral, and for an industrial designer it is very sad to be doing something that will get spoiled. I have placed an introduction in the manual which is like a quote that pays homage to the book The Praise of the shadow. I do not give a treatment to the materials, so that they pick up dirt and get embodied. For example, I treat copper so that when you touch it, you leave the fingerprint, and the product gives you a history of its use. Curiously his most recent design, Prima Table, does not illuminate: it is a table that will be manufactured by the Italian firm Borella for the hostel sector. Not only of light does man live …

Design Report Award Highlighted publication 2010

Germany. March 2010

 
At the end of the award ceremony, Nasir Kassamali grabbed the microphone and voiced what everybody else in the room was no doubt thinking on this balmy April evening: “Thank you so much, Marva, for this wonderfully designed space,” called out the head of US-American design distributorship Luminaire and long-standing sponsor of the design report award. “This time you’ve really excelled yourself!” How true. The crowd-pleasing success of the 13th Salone Satellite was due in no small part to the design of the exhibition layout, which was even more spacious and pleasant than in previous years. The motto of this year’s event: “Designing the world”. (…). Then the jurors got down to a long and ardent discussion of their suggestions. Little by little, four potential candidates emerged: the textile furniture by Norwegian group “She”, the cutlery canteen and chair by Japan’s Sohei Arao, the side tables by Argentine Federico Churba and the designs by Francesco Faccin and Álvaro Catalán de Ocón: two luminaires, two tables and a chair. “Attractive, sound workmanship and great attention to detail” was This Weber’s verdict on the objects. “Honest, useful and human,” concluded Frida Doveil. In the end, the jurors voted unanimously in favour of the Italian and the Spaniard. The ceremony could begin. The Salone Satellite participants, journalists and fair visitors clustering around the stage (…)

It was the “Pielettrico” floor lamp that first caught the jurors’ eye: a neon tube stuck onto a cross-shaped base. An unspectacular but striking design with an additional benefit that only revealed itself on closer inspection. At the end of each of the four feet is a jack; “Pielettrico” isn’t just a lamp, but a multiple socket complete with extension cord. The stunning simplicity and convincing creativity of the solution aroused the jurors’ curiosity. What else do Francesco Faccin and Álvaro Catalán de Ocón have to offer? A great deal, the panel soon realised: a chair, two tables, more lamps – but aboye all spirit, wit and attitude. The Spaniard and the Italian aren’t entirely new to the business. They exhibited their work at the Salone Satellite in 2007 as well. Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, born in Madrid in 1975, studied at the Istituto Europeo di Design (lED) in Milan and at the Central Saint Martin’s School in London. He has been running his own design studio in Madrid since 2009. He designed the “Glow Brick” lamp for English manufacturer Suck-UK and another of his lamp designs, “La Flaca”, is marketed by Spanish company Metalarte. Francesco Faccin, born in Milan in 1977, also studied design at the IED and likewise has professional
experience. Before establishing himself as a freelancer, he worked for Enzo Mari and for instrument and model maker Francesco Rivolta. More recently, he has been collaborating with Michele de Lucchi. Ever since their student days, Faccin and Catalán have shared a close friendship based in no small part on common ideals. Both of them admire role models like Achille Castiglioni and Enzo Mari, both of them love physically and aesthetically enduring things that enrich everyday life. They have an aversion to style for style’s sake and hate to see materials wasted. Catalán’s “Candil” lamp is a good example of the poetic creations that can result from such a purist approach. The object consists of a conventional light bulb loosely placed in a copper bowl, a wooden insulator and a brass base. The metal parts don’t just symbolise the two poles of electricity, they actually function as such as well. The electric circuit is closed by placing the light bulb in a hole in the dish. There is no need for a separate switch – nor for explanation. The little lamp is a simple demonstration of how electric light is generated and that it is something precious and astonishing. You instinctively handle the object gently. This respectful, very aware approach to things and resources is extremely dear to the designers’ hearts. Perhaps Slow Design would be a fitting description of what they do. Congratulations, Francesco Faccin and Álvaro Catalán de Ocón.

Inventario Highlighted publication 2011

Italy. Issue 02. 2011


 
Four young creators

Six projects shown as prototypes at the Salone Satellite 2010, similar in type and constructive simplicity, all driven by a shared idea of simplification: design as subtraction, creativity at the service of “Iess as more”. In all of them, the theme of the joint as substance: in the first three, the magic of the invisible interlock; in the others, the display of parts and their connections. (…) Then you realize they are demountable, and certain projects of Bruno Munari come to mind, or other “impossible” interlocks seen in the past. So the mind starts to backtrack, and you realize the secret does not lie in what you see, but in what is hidden, just as in the “Codadirondine” table by Munari (Zanona, 1989). Back then it was the diagonal of the interlock that permined an “impossible” solution. Today (in the case of the project by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón) the cut of the two cones concealed inside the ring and (in the two tables by Francesco Faccin) the invisible interlock of the legs with the top do the trick. The only clues to the option of disassembly are, in the first, the head of a bolt, while in the second they come from the tips of the legs that can be glimpsed in the upper part of the top. Three similar products with shared intelligence, featuring the idea of the wedge interlock, pressure or tension of the parts, obligatory housings that “constrict” and give the object stability. The project by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón has a more openly technical language: it can be seen as a “dryer” piece, with more evident connections between parts, and with the same material used for the structure, steel, that permits no nuances of interpretation. The two tables by Francesco Faccin, made with less visible connections, are “softer” because their more noble material (wood) offers a natural feel and a texture that seem to add soul. Regarding the “Binario” table, a little masterpiece of cabinet making with a Rubik heart, the designer talks about expressive and technical challenges, with the aim of translating technique into aesthetics: what is normally invisible and technical becomes a strong point here, a sign capable of making the object sincere and comprehensible. Essential, immediate products in which the look has a structural function, and viceversa, where the use of fine materials left “natural”, to age together with us, charges them with an added value, that of affection, of the history of those who have used them. (…)

Table with steel rod structure and glass top. The legs inserted in the ring are gripped in their final position by the opposing pressure of two cones; thanks to the shape, they are held at 120º. The insertion in obligatory housings gives the object greater stability: the closer the cones get to each other, the more they push the legs against the ring that holds them in place. At first glance it does not seem demountable, but an impossible, Escher-like form.

Delta Awards Highlighted publication 2009

Spain. 2009


La Flaca

Very simple lamp reduced to its essential minimum. The materials have been chosen not only for their aesthetics characteristics but also for their physical properties. Aluminium is thus used in the lampshade for its lightness, easy manipulation (laser-cut, spun, sand blasted …), ability to take different finishes (anodised) and, above all, a good electrical conductor. The shade, made from only three parts, resolves all the electrical connections without the need for cables, acting as a lamp holder, switch, dimmer and reflector. This principle is applied to both the shade and the base and arm. The base, which is also the box for the adapter, is made from iron for its weight and its ability to be mechanised with great precision. Silicon was used for its high resistance to heat, flexibility and transparency. It was put between the two tapers of the cone, which it insulates electrically, holds the bulbs in place and keeps them from sliding and allows the light through while giving visual lightness to the whole. The extruded aluminium places the shade at the right height and also operates as a cord and switch.originalísma Lathe Chair, y dos de los australianos más prometedores del momento: Jamie McLellan y Adam Goodrum.

Rtve 2016

Spain. July2016


A punto con La 2 – Reciclando – Reciclaje y artesanía

El reciclaje de productos industriales puede revalorizar la artesanía, como demuestra Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, uno de los diseñadores de Petlamp.

AD 2016

Spain. March2016

So 2016

China. March2016

so_1

Elle Decor 2016

Spain. March2016

The Heritage Post 2016

UK. February2016

Inside Out 2016

Australia. February2016

Fuera de serie 2016

Spain. January2016

Producto Fresco 2015

Spain. November 2015

Bazar 2015

Spain. November2015

Dinero 2015

Spain. November2015

Dinero

A&W 2015

Germany. September2015

Fuera de Serie 2015

Spain. September2015

Mujer Hoy 2015

Spain. August2015

Fur Sie 2015

Germany. August2015

Fur-sie-portada

Milk decoration 2015

France. June2015

milk2

XL Semanal 2015

Spain. May2015

AD 2015

Spain. March2015

Diseño en estado PURO

Belén Domecq y Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, dos grandes del universo AD y miembros del jurado del concurso de diseño Smoking Chair, nos cuentan los atributos que debe tener una pieza para ser perfecta.
Por segundo año consecutivo, el Club Pasión Habanos ha organizado el certamen de diseño Smoking Chair. El jurado, compuesto por el diseñador Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, los interioristas Belén Domecq y Tomás Alía, el arquitecto Pedro Feduchi y Sison Pujol de Nomon Design, ha seleccionado diez finalistas y dos ganadores de entre los centenares de propuestas que han participado este año.

Estuvimos en la presentación de los proyectos elegidos y aprovechamos para charlar con Belén Domecq y Álvaro Catalán de Ocón. Sentados en los dos sillones ganadores (en la categoría profesional, el Habanos Smoking Chair en roble y cuero de Quim Larrea y Marc Gual; y en categoría estudiantil, el asiento en corcho y metal Akura, de Luis de Sousa), nos explicaron por qué han seleccionado estos trabajos, las características que debe tener un buen diseño y cómo es el rincón de su casa en el que ellos se relajan. Pónganse cómodos.

ABC 2015

Spain. March2015

abc_spain_fevrier2015

AD 2015

Spain.March2015

ad_spain_march

Casas 2015

Chile. March2015

VD El Mercurio 2015

Chile. February2015

vd_elmercurio

On Office 2015

Spain. February2015

on-office

VD El Mercurio 2015

Chile. January2015

vd_mercurio3

Annabelle 2014

Switzerland. June2014

Vtwonen 2014

Netherlands. June2014

vtwonen_interior2

AD 2014

Spain. June2014

AD_june_2014

Living 2014

Italy. April2014

living2

Designer Chicks 2014

Australia. Issue1. February2014

Dwell 2014

USA. February2014


 
WAIST NOT,
WANT NOT
An emerging Spanish designer redefines his role by pursuing philanthropic projects with indigenous people in Colombia.

Turning the manufacturer-as-patron model on its head, Madrid’s Alvaro Catalán de Ocón is his own best client. The designer, who trained at London’s acclaimed Central Saint Martins College, is committed to the process of self-production-at a rate of one project per year. “In the recent past, there’s been an excess of products in the market which didn’t respond to a real demand from the public,” he says. “Manufacturers have taken advantage of this. They come to you with a brief that creates a necessity we don’t need. I am not interested in this model.”

In 2011, Catalán de Ocón traveled to Colombia on a holiday with his partner. He had arranged to meet Hélène Le Drogou, a psychologist and activist concerned with the plastic waste that contaminates the Colombian Amazon. Upon returning home, Catalán de Ocón came up with the idea for the PET Lamp, a pendant whose basic form comes from the reshaping of the polyethylene terephthalate bottle. The lampshade is made from woven straw or strips of textile, using traditional Colombian basket-weaving techniques. The next year he returned to Colombia to jump-start production. The only missing factor was seed money, which is where Coca-Cola stepped in with a onetime donation to get the initial design workshop off the ground. “They are aware they are part of the problem,” says Catalán de Ocón. After all, it takes minutes to consume the contents of a PET bottle and hundreds of years for it to decompose.

Catalán de Ocón knows his PET Lamp won’t solve the issue of waste, but he does hope it will raise awareness. Colombian artisans from the southwestern Cauca region, which has become an epicenter of the country’s armed conflict, collect the bottles themselves and receive a regular, fair-trade wage (at a rate stipulated by the nonprofit organization Artesanías de Colombia). The artisans shape the plastic material over a wooden mold and are given creative liberty in the choice of colors and technique they use for the weave. The shade is then shipped to Europe and fitted with a textile-covered cable and a plug. Catalán de Ocón sells the lamps online and through a handful of high-end European retailers. Each piece is unique, with its own variation in shape and artisan impression. “We wanted to do something that represented the rich visual culture of Colombia,” says Catalán de Ocón, “and bring that to Europe.”

Vogue 2014

Germany. February2014

voguevogue

El País Semanal 2014

Spain. February2014

elpaissemanal

Alle Metalle 2013

Germany. 2013

Cappuccino 2013

Spain. Issue1. 2013


 
Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, The magic of the light
Al igual que las lámparas que diseña, Álvaro Catalán de Ocón vio la luz el día que decidió dejar la carrera de Empresariales y pasarse al diseño. Y lo hizo a lo grande, estudiando en dos de las mejores escuelas del mundo: primero en el IED de Milán y después en Central Saint Martins en Londres. “Lo que más me aportaron mis años de formatión fue el compartir experiencias con otras personas. En Italia me empapé mucho de la cultura del diseño, pero la inquietud anglosajona es excepcional y me influyó mucho”, recuerda el diseñador madrileño. Tras conseguir que una empresa manufacturara y distribuyera su proyecto de tesis, la lámpara Glow Brick, abrió su primer estudio en Barcelona, donde nacería La Flaca, otro de sus diseños más reconocidos. Cinco años después, la inquietud de Álvaro le condujo de nuevo hasta Madrid, su ciudad natal, donde le surgió la oportunidad de impartir clases en el IED. Sin embargo, este años la enseñanza no ha estado tan presente en la actividad del diseñador, que a parte de haber impartido algunos cursos y charlas, se ha concentrado en proyectos como la PET Lamp. A raíz de un viaje a Colombia, à Álvaro y a otros artisas les propusieron pensar en una solución para aprovechar los desechos plásticos. Entonces nació esta lámpara, un diseño que podrían desarrollar los propios indígenas artesanos a la vez que se reciclaban los plásticos. El siguiente paso fue la feria Just Mad, donde Álvaro expuso la PET Lamp y donde Juan Picornell, presidente del Grupo Cappuccino, se enamoró ed ella. “Juan pasó delante del stand y se tiró a por la lápara. Le encantó para utilizarla en una de sus nueva cafeterías de Ibiza. Así que fuimos a ver el espacio del restaurente y la verdad es que quedan la maravilla”, explica Catalán de Ocón. Con este proyecto, el diseñador explora la narrativa, una de las tres ramas en que categoriza su diseño. “Me gusta hablar de la parte industrial, de la de las sensaciones y de la narrativa, que explica la historia que hay detrás. Entonces se le van quitando las capas al objecto y se profundiza. Es un ejercicio humanista, de búqueda en el interior”.

Mas Deco 2013

Chile. October2013

masdeco

Arquitectura y Diseño 2013

Spain. November2013

arq-y-dis

Arquitectura 2013

Spain. Issue366. October2013

arquitectura

AD 2013

Spain. October2013

ELLE Decoration 2013

France. September2013

elledeco_fr_2013

Room 2013

USA. September2013

room

ELLE Decor 2013

USA. September2013

elledecor_usa_2013

fd.Persoonlijk 2013

The Netherlands. August2013

fd

Loro 2013

Japan. July2013

loro

Marie Claire 2013

Italy. July2013

ELLE Decor 2013

Spain. Issue132. July2013

elledecor_june2013

AD 2013

Spain. Issue81. June2013

ABC 2013

Spain. March2013

Lights 2012

Russia. October2012

lights

Habitania 2012

Spain. October2012

HABITANIA

AD Collector 2012

France. Issue7. September2012

ad_collector2

ELLE Deco Lab 2012

France. Issue1. September2012

ELLE Decor 2012

Spain. July2012

AD 2012

Spain. June2012

ad_june2012

Wired 2012

Italy. April2012

wired2

El Pais S Moda 2012

Spain. Issue18. January2012

EL-PAIS-S-moda

ELLE Decoration 2011

UK. November2011

AD Collector Issue 2011

France. Issue5. September2011

ad_collector

AD 2011

Spain. June2011

ad_2011

Monocle 2011

UK. Issue42. April2011

monocle2

Viewpoint 2011

Germany. Issue27. January2011

Abitare 2010

UK. Issue504. July2010

abitare2

Intramuros 2010

France. Issue149. 2010

intramuros3
 
ALVARO AND FRANCESCO’S STRUCTURAL SOLUTIONS

The first, Alvaro Catalan de Ocón is Spanish. The second, Francesco Faccin Italian. But between Madrid and Milan there is a sort of telepathic connection. They met at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan and were influenced by the same ideas. Alvaro went on to study in Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, while Francesco trained with Enzo Mari before working with Michelle de Lucchi. They have a similar approach to products, and similar idols: Castiglioni, Mari, Munari. ln 2007 they showed at the Satellite salon in Milan. In 2010, they struck again, with a joint project entitled ‘Pielettrico’ that won the Design Report Award. A lamp is by definition connected to an energy source, and thus can be a source of energy itself for other objects requiring energy. ‘Pieletrico’ is also a multisocket adapter and with its vertical neon light and four spokes which can be used to connect a variety of items, it is like a totem in the office. Alongside him, Alvaro has developed a number of projects independently, particularIy in the area of lighting with a series of minimalist lamps “Cornucopia”, “La Flaca” and “Candil “: a positive and a negative pole, a flex and a bulb that doubles as a switch are all that are needed and are at once simple and magical. And there is the ‘Prima’ table that reveals how it is constructed: three identical steel feet bound by a steel hoop nestled under a glass top, an echo of Francesco’s “Centrino” table made of three legs in walnut under a Corian top. No glue, no screws, just perfectly formed joints that go to highlight the underlying aesthetic. For the ‘Quadrato’ table, the same principle is employed: the decorative elements are also part of the structural solution.

Colon 2010

Italy. Issue1. Autumn/Winter2010


 
FACCIN / CATALAN DE OCON: THE NEW PATHWAYS OF DESIGN

Design understood as simplicity, subtraction and in every project, capable of conserving a rigorous and masterly handmade craft. This philosophy is the start point for the work of two young designers. We are talking about Francesco Faccin and Alvaro Catalán de Ocón: an Italian and Spanish who, throughout the years, have caused that their own study and project experiences meet, reaching a strict vision of work. We have wanted to get to know them better, giving them the opportunity of telling their own point of view of design, in a special double interview.

We begin with a fast auto presentation…
A. I studied economy during five years, but it was not my way, so in a parallel form I began to dedicate myself to sculpture and painting. After the career, I went to the Istituto Europeo de Design in Milán, which represented a very important stage for me since it allowed me to learn about the design and project culture. Afterward, I moved to London, to the Central Saint Martin´s College of Art & Design, where I began to work with a greater creative freedom, and finally returned to Spain, first Barcelona during five years, and now Madrid. Milán, London and Barcelona have been for me different schools, from which I have perceived a completely European design culture.
F. Opposed to Alvaro, my experience is basically connected to the design culture from Milán. Studying I have appreciated the work of Enzo Mari, his ability to make of each object a project, thinking in its complexity, from the concept to the production. With Mari I have collaborated a year in which, although in a hard way, I learned the rigor and responsibility of this work. Then I started to work as an independent designer, also collaborating with the lute sculptor and manufacturer Francesco Rivolta, until last year I sent a letter to Michelle De Lucchi, and now I work in his study being in charge of the modeling workshop.
To which of your creations are you most connected?

A. Surely the “Cornucopia” lamp, my first project at the end of my career. For me it has also represented the base for my consecutive projects. It is a lamp conceived as the prolongation of a cable. One of the principles of design is reduction, and in my first work there are only three pieces. This attributes the project a foundation that makes it almost unquestionable, because there is nothing to add or remove.
F. I think that the “Centrino” table, which I have exposed in the Salone del Mobile of this year, and purchased by “Habitat”. It is a table mounted through a set of joints, without screws or glue. It does not occupy space in the transport and it conserves a distinctly handmade character. I am also connected to this project because it is my sensation that as years pass I am acquiring the capability of deepening in the performance of a project, which is an evolution in my creative career.

What are your preferred materials?
A. Each material has its charm and interest. Personally, I am linked to metal for the precision it provides to a certain project.
F. I have a special love for wood, due to a very simple reason: with a circular saw, a hand saw and a file I can autonomously produce an object and I experiment with total freedom. Nevertheless, working with iron, crystal or plastic it is necessary to depend on the help of a third person to have a project ongoing.

What is that you like the least of the design of today?
A. I do not like mediatic design, the design thought of as a product adapted to the photograph of the sector´s magazine. Design has to be connected to a powerful project.
F. Yes, unfortunately there is the tendency by part of the industries that participate in the Salone del Mobile of mounting the stand with prototypes only, to test the market. Companies, however, should concentrate again in a few products each year with the objective of selling. And this only happens when the correct design is chosen and knowing its market is objective. Unfortunately the object is now a good, not a project; there is a lack of brand personality.
What are the biggest differences between the work as a designer among Italy and the other countries?
F. The differences are huge. In Italy companies consider work in a personal dimension, not only professional: to deal with an entrepreneur means to be in contact with his life, family, tastes and values. At the same time the strictly professional dimension prevails: the project and its performance, the rest does not count.
A. I would add another element: in Italy the entrepreneur and the designer represent two separate and distant worlds. In other countries a good design product can become the base for the birth of a new company, which is very difficult in Italy.

In the last Salone del Mobile the flagship of your stand was the “Pielettrico” lamp, how does the idea for this project arise?

A. We were in Barcelona developing a project of urban furniture for the Olympic candidacy of Madrid. Working in this project we realized in an initial sketch for a streetlight: suddenly I thought that it could become the base of a lamp containing three switches and a light switch. The idea was captured immediately, although some years have passed to develop the project in the practice.
F. It was a pretty experience since, despite working separately, at the end it was possible to join all the parts of our project with great precision. The “Pielettrico” is, among the others, an object that has served to draw attention towards our other products. Let´s say it is the most pop object we have done. It could become a mass object, far away from the craftsmanship we have practiced this year.

Wallpaper 2010

UK. July2010

wallpaper

Abitare 2010

Italy. Issue503. June2010

abitare

Gentleman 2010

Spain. Issue70. 2010

geltleman

Talo&Kot 2010

Finland. Issue9. 2010

Talo2