Founded in 1995 by Cutu Mazuelos and Eva Prego, this Madrid-based product and interior design studio is both open-minded and focused. This has led it to undertake a multitude of projects from a personal, uncensored, uninhibited perspective. The studio’s enthusiasm and desire to keep growing and evolving has ensured it has acquired an extensive roster of high-profile clients, including Muja, Lexus, Adidas, Issey Miyake and Women’secret.
Co-founder Mazuelos tells us about his exciting career so far in a year that sees the studio celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Interiors From Spain: In 1995, two young, energetic designers who were passionate about design co-founded Stone Designs. How do you look back on that time now?
Stone Designs: We have countless memories. I remember how we repainted our studio so we could move into it as quickly as possible, how we used supermarket trolleys as drawing boards and began to bring in our books and magazines as if filling our shelves with our hopes and dreams. We had enthusiasm in spades when kickstarting our business which has brought us to where we are today.
Interiors From Spain: What drove you to take this decision that would mark out your professional career and lives?
Stone Designs: It’s very simple. Our ambition was to undertake our own projects even when we were at college. Eva and I had collaborated for a long time at university so working together later came to us naturally. The type of studio we wanted to work at didn’t exist in Madrid so the only alternative was to set up our own one.
Interiors From Spain: How would you describe your work?
Stone Designs: Simple, essential, evocative and inspiring.
Interiors From Spain: How has it evolved over the years?
Stone Designs: It’s evolved so much that I don’t even recognise myself in our early work! We made some horrible things at first in which the ego eclipsed all rationality and socially responsible design. Today, our vision of life and in particular our relationship to objects and the environment has changed considerably. Now our collections are coherent, bursting with enthusiasm and colour and are a catalyst for experiences that invite its users to use them.
Interiors From Spain: What are your inspirations?
Stone Designs: Nature has always been one of our main inspirations. We’re not so inspired by people but rather by the environment around them and by finding design solutions that meet their actual needs in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. Nature answers practically all the questions we ask ourselves in our studio and gives us a universal language recognisable in any part of the world. In my case especially, my life has always been linked to nature at its wildest — which has been given to me and taken away from me in equal measure — so it’s inevitably inspired me.
Interiors From Spain: Stone Designs mainly embraces product and interior design. Which field do you prefer working in?
Stone Designs: We like both equally. We love product design because of the total control you have over creating it, for the way it allows you to synthesise loads of different people’s knowledge in one piece and a cast-iron commitment by the same people to improve others’ lives. It’s something we ourselves find very satisfying.
Interiors From Spain: What do you think are the main differences between designing products and interiors?
Stone Designs: In truth, there are few differences. Obviously, different processes are involved but perhaps interiors have the added value of being able to convey a much deeper experience than a single product, which is always determined by the environment it’s used in. Interiors allow designers to express themselves much more fully and freely and involve the user in their work more effectively.
Interiors From Spain: We love your fun, colourful furniture for kids and pieces for dogs. Do you plan to continue to create products for these niche markets?
Stone Designs: Well, whenever we’re asked to we will, of course! In fact, we’re creating some very interesting collections for adults and kids for a major Japanese company, so it looks likely we’ll continue to design these kinds of things for a while.
Interiors From Spain: What is the secret of Stone Designs’s success?
Stone Designs: Well, I think our professionalism is very important. We don’t see ourselves as superior to anyone else — we’re humble, tenacious, dedicated... Our passionate attitude when embarking on every new project is something our clients value hugely.
Interiors From Spain: How do you seduce companies into investing in your creations?
Stone Designs: I believe in truth. We don’t try to sell them ideas which aren’t us; we’re honest. In this line of business, we all know vanity is the order of the day, but if people see that you’re passionate and a dreamer with your feet nevertheless firmly on the ground, they realise you’re capable of anything without losing your way.
Interiors From Spain: How do you achieve a strong affinity and involvement with your clients?
Stone Designs: Something that surprises our clients is that we’re very flexible. Our clients are very experienced in their line of business so we love listening to their evaluation of our projects as we can learn how to improve them. We’re a very emotional, passionate studio so if we don’t have an affinity with our client it’s difficult for us to make a success of the project. Normally, we turn down projects when we realise there’s no chemistry between us and the client. But it shouldn’t happen as we’re always upbeat, easy to deal with and committed.
Interiors From Spain: Tell us about your international projects and which foreign countries you do business in?
Stone Designs: We’ve undertaken projects all over the world. We love having the opportunity of working in many different countries and cities — from South Africa, Miami, Tokyo and Moscow to New York — and enjoying and learning about their cultures and traditions. We’ve been helped a lot by ICEX and its technical conferences, such as those held in Japan, a country we now feel at home in.
Interiors From Spain: Have your travels and experiences abroad influenced your designs at all?
Stone Designs: They definitely have — there’s a difference between our designs before and after our travels. Our experience in Japan in particular has been and always will be something we’ll be eternally grateful for. Our work with Japanese clients has taught us to synthesise our ideas, fine-tune our aesthetic and understand the best way to work with materials to get the most out of them. Working in the international arena forces you to think in a global way, create visual languages similar to any culture or country. So it amuses me when we see how many countries want to be different from the rest of the world. When you travel a lot, you realise that ultimately the goal of mankind is to find common ground, be happy. If you focus on making people happy through enriching experiences, you’ll never fail them and they’ll always be grateful for that.
Interiors From Spain: What relationship do you have with your business partners, such as architects and other associates in Russia, Japan, China and the US?
Stone Designs: Well, it’s obvious what I’m going to say to that! Our relationships are excellent, of course! [Laughs.] It allows us to take on important projects and offer our clients all the services they need without these involving extra costs. We say that we sell design to international clients while providing a local service.
Interiors From Spain: How important are these relationships in terms of securing new clients in these countries?
Stone Designs: The support of our offices outside Spain is essential to us securing clients. They provide all the credibility and endorsement our clients need to close a deal or conclude a project, even though our business ideas are conceived in and undertaken from Madrid.
Interiors From Spain: We’re fascinated by the fact that a Spanish studio designs pieces for Swedish and Danish companies. How have you seduced Nordic companies who are already at the vanguard of European contemporary design?
Stone Designs: Well, I have to say that we’re by no means the only Spanish designers working for Scandinavian companies. But what’s true is that we work with quite a few because we’ve targeted these countries a lot. We feel a strong affinity with their cultures and aesthetic, just as we identify with their ecological values. We could say we speak the same language. One design director of a high-profile Swedish firm even told Eva and I that we’re ‘Swedish’ designers working in Madrid! [Laughs.] We’re happy with that because, for us, Scandinavian design has always been an important reference point in many aspects of design.
Interiors From Spain: What challenges lie ahead for you?
Stone Designs: To keep growing and enjoy each new project. What we’d like above all is to be able to fill people’s lives with experiences and products which improve their lives and make people happy.
Interiors From Spain: Stone Designs is 20 years old next September. When you blow the candles out on your birthday cake, what wish will you have? Is there any particular project you’d love to carry out?
Stone Designs: Anything to do with ski or mountain-climbing resorts! We design for a very niche market in ski resorts and we’d like to continue working in such stunning natural environments as these. We find this very fulfilling.