BD Barcelona Design was set up in Barcelona in 1972. Founded by a group of architects and design experts, it is in many ways an atypical design company, in particular because it boasts huge variety of its products.
The company has subdivided its business into the following four main categories: art (the reproduction of historical pieces, mainly by Dalí and Gaudí), residential furniture, contract furniture and public seating.
BD’s prestige is built on a catalogue of works by such great figures of contemporary design as Ross Lovegrove, Oscar Tusquets, Alfredo Häberli, Konstantin Gric, Jaime Hayón and many others.
So far this year, the company – which won Spain´s National Design Award in 1989 and the European Community Design Prize in 1990 – has launched two pieces: its Binaria stool, created by Jordi Badía, a doctor, and industrial designer Otto Canalda, and Gauliano chair, designed by Oscar Tusquets.
We quizzed Jordi Arnau, BD Barcelona Design’s managing director, about the company
Interiors from Spain: A key hallmark of BD is its exclusive production of designs by the great architect Gaudí and artist Dalí. How do you manage to combine this aspect of the business with your more contemporary pieces?
BD Barcelona Design: They are perfect bedfellows. All the leading companies in our sector have some pieces in their portfolio which, after a period of time, become design classics. All those in our catalogue coexist harmoniously – as most of our clients agree. This applies to interiors projects too, since many interior designers and architects – for example, at the level of Philippe Starck – have successfully mixed older pieces with ones launched only recently.
IFS: The brand’s spectrum of products is extremely broad: art, chairs, accessories, lighting, street furniture. Is it complicated to cater to so many markets from a management perspective?
BD Barcelona Design: From a management point of view, yes, it is complicated. For years, we’ve been struggling to cut down on our huge repertoire of products and focus on those we want to be known for. I think we’re getting there, but in a gradual way as we don’t want to make too sudden a break from our heritage.
IFS: Which of your products have been the most successful to date? And why?
BD Barcelona Design: I think we need to define here how you measure success. Many of our pieces have received prizes yet don’t sell well – and vice versa. Some of our best-sellers, which have been milestones in BD’s history, include Jaime Hayón’s Showtime, Ross Lovegrove’s BD Love collection and Konstantin Grcic’s Table B.
IFS: Tell us about your relationships with your designers. How do you collaborate with them?
BD Barcelona Design: At BD, our art director plays a key role in this respect by liaising with the designers, closely following the progress of their work and knowing how to match their talents with the types of products the company needs. This is a job which Ramón Ubeda – who has instigated many of our innovative projects –does brilliantly at BD.
IFS: Which foreign markets are you currently targeting? And why?
BD Barcelona Design: BD exports 70 per cent of its products and we aim to raise that figure to 80 per cent in two years’ time. We’re most interested at the moment in emerging markets as that’s where we can expand the most and it’s where there’s a public with the kind of huge purchasing power needed to buy our products. We’re going to concentrate all our efforts in Latin America, a territory which historically has been overlooked, and where Brazil is the country that’s making the biggest strides. We also want to expand into China and Russia.
IFS: Which new collections will you be unveiling at the next Milan Furniture Fair? Can you give us a sneak preview?
BD Barcelona Design: We’re currently finalising a really nice project with Alfredo Häberli, which we’ll present for the first time there. We’ll also be showing a new cabinet in conjunction with Martí Guixé, a new version of Konstantin Grcic’s Table B, a table by Oscar Tusquets and a collection called the Narcissist by Chinese architects Neri & Hu.
IFS: What do you think are the main trends in design today?
BD Barcelona Design: Firstly, we’re seeing the mixing of very diverse styles, even though a lot of people, especially in Spain, whose taste is minimalist, detest this eclecticism. So I don’t think there’s any one style in design now. And secondly, our awareness and endorsement of recyclable materials will affect how products are designed more and more.