Co-founded by Javier Nieto Santa, Gabriel Ordeig Cole and Nina Masó, Santa & Cole began life as a design company 25 years ago.
They wanted to create and oversee a company of pieces which couldn’t be found elsewhere and to focus on the more intangible, conceptual aspects of the business, while subcontracting the industrial, production side to others. And so they produced various lights, like Miguel Milá’s TMM lamp.
These are objects which, as Masó says, complement other pieces or create interesting focal points. And this approach still pertains today: Santa & Cole only produces design which stem from the Bauhaus school of design – that is to say solidly made, aesthetically sober and highly functional objects. Since its earliest days, Santa & Cole has collaborated with a multitude of top-ranking designers, most frequently with Toni Arola, Miguel Milá and Carles Ricart. Santa & Cole currently has three showrooms in Spain – in Barcelona and Bilbao – and two in the rest of Europe – Frankfurt and Milan.
We interview Juan Eusebio Pujol, CEO at Santa&Cole.
Interiors From Spain: What are the key aspects of your company and the defining philosophy of Santa & Cole? Who are your ideal clients and how do you attract them?
Santa & Cole: We want to promote beauty in everyday life via cultural material – objects. Our team of 130 people form the company which is devoted to producing high quality design. We select and add new pieces to our catalogue, see through their technical development from start to finish, subcontract and finance their production, store the products and sell them all over the world. Above all, we protect the added value brought to us by designers and defend intellectual property rights against their use by third parties. Our clients are interior designers, designers, architects and landscape architects who have a taste for original, contemporary design and who see these objects as reflecting their brand, as things they feel they have an affinity with.
IFS: Why, as a manufacturer of design, do you also have a book-publishing arm and a forestry division? How important is sustainability to you?
S&C: In 1991, Santa & Cole took the risk of starting to publish design monographs guided by a conviction that the objects it makes and the books it planned to publish are utterly linked and that both share the same goal: to promote highly stimulating, very subtle cultural objects. The Bauhaus’ leading lights adhered to a comprehensive view of design – encompassing everything ‘from the spoon to the city’ [a slogan coined by architect Ernesto Rogers in the 50s] – which we elevate to join our trilogy of three main concerns: people, city, planet. This is the philosophy of our forestry division which, based in Parc de Belloch in Barcelona, has been going for over six years. This venture has broadened the catalogue of our urban division. Its main function is to offer living things which improve the material quality of people living together in large cities in the 21st century.
IFS: What are the company’s main challenges when it comes to becoming more international? Which market or markets are you currently focusing on? And following what business principles?
S&C: Since 2004, Santa & Cole consolidated its expansion into Europe with the opening of its first subsidiary in Milan. Today we export to over 50 countries and, since 2007, we have a mutual agreement in place with the leading American outdoor furniture and landscape architecture firm Landscape Forms for exclusive distribution of each other’s products. In July 2008, we opened our second subsidiary in Frankfurt, and in the next few months plan to open one in France too. Our aim is to consolidate our presence in European markets, associate ourselves with interior design companies in the US and consolidate commercial agreements with Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and north Africa.
IFS: Tell us about your most recent projects. Are you planning to collaborate with any new designers? Are you taking part in any well-known international project?
S&C: Of our most recent products, I’d say the outdoor light Oco, Belloch, a chair made of recycled materials created by Estudio Lagranja, and a new line produced in collaboration with the handcrafted fabrics cooperative Teixidors, stand out the most. We’re involved in projects with different designers, some of whom are internationally renowned, though we can’t divulge who they are just yet. On the interior design side, we’ve carried out and continue to carry out special projects for different clients. Prestigious ones include ones for Louis Vuitton’s buildings in Japan and a library in one of the most respected universities in the EU.