Andreu Carulla, who trained as an industrial designer, founded his own studio in 2005. This is dedicated to the design and development of new products and creation of more artistic pieces designed specifically by him. Situated an hour away from Barcelona, the studio is located in a natural, typically Mediterranean landscape which creates a very inspiring atmosphere for its creative activity.
Carulla’s highly varied career path to date has allowed him to come into contact with very different approaches to design – including the complex techniques of industrial manufacture, jewellery-making and the design of consumer goods, street furniture and lighting. Consequently, Carulla has a broad vision of product design: he works in a highly personal, experimental, conceptual way, trying out fresh materials and manufacturing processes when designing and developing new products.
With sustainability, beauty and vitality all strong themes in his work, Carulla dreams up one-off, exclusive pieces that fuse raw materials in their most natural state – including natural waste products – with noble materials, such as glass, porcelain and gold leaf, all crafted by local artesans. Their resulting aesthetic is rustic yet exquisite.
Carulla, the studio’s founder and chief designer, chats to us about the philosophy behind his workshop, his designs and projects.
Interiors From Spain: How would you describe your studio and its ideas?
Andreu Carulla: Although that’s something hard for me to define personally, I’d say we create multidiscipinary design. Our portfolio of products is so varied that, seen in their entirety, they’re pretty diverse. This is the studio’s distinguishing feature, which nourishes the way we work and allows us to apply techniques used in furniture to jewellery design or materials normally used when manufacturing cars to lighting.
IFS: Your studio has a definite Mediterranean character. How do your products project this?
Andreu Carulla: I think this happens through us being immersed in our environment which is steeped in this spirit, and we love that. The rhythm of life, the calm, the sun, the street life, our friends… We’ve always lived this kind of life and never want to give that up. So it’s inevitable that our work exudes Mediterranean qualities, even though we never consciously cultivate or try to make it our signature style.
IFS: Sustainability is a thread running through your work – and expressed particularly by your brand, Eco Luxury Editions. Tell us about this work and about your use of recyclable materials.
Andreu Carulla: We believe this is an essential attribute of design today, although often, as designers, we don’t have the final say about this when working with manufacturers. Hence the idea for Eco Luxury Editions, after various failed attempts to see if manufacturers would use materials, reclaimed materials or parts of wood that aren’t currently used. But, finding that our emotions overruled reason, our only solution lay in making the products ourselves. In fact, we ended up having a brilliant time making these pieces, which were also very well received. We’re currently making several of these products and have begun to move in this direction when designing for furniture manufacturers.
IFS: You’re changing people’s perceptions of eco furniture as your pieces are hand-made using natural and recyclable materials which are nevertheless elegant and luxurious.
Andreu Carulla: Yes, I want to change this perception, as I think many people feel that something that’s eco and environmentally friendly can’t be luxurious and sophisticated. What’s more, people also get confused about pricing: they think that something made of a recyclable material should be cheap. What they don’t know is that designing with tree bark and other natural or recyclable materials takes more time and involves more unconventional manufacturing processes which in turn make these products more expensive to produce than mass-produced ones.
IFS: Your designs are original and versatile. Is there one you feel particularly proud about? Which of your designs have been the most successful?
Andreu Carulla: We’re proud of all our designs, given that each one has allowed us to mature as designers. And, with each one, we learn how to make our next design better. I believe we’re the embodiment of all our work. But some pieces are more popular with the press than others – these are our CrusTable table, Oda lights, Fruit Tops spinning top and, more recently, our TheStooler stool.
I’d also like to mention the pieces I created for El Celler de Can Roca, which has been named the second best restaurant in the world by The World's 50 Best Restaurants list since 2009. These include the El gol de Messi (a container in the shape of half a football) and Boulder Plate serving dish, inspired by the culinary needs of its visionary owners, the Roca brothers.
IFS: Andreu Carulla has taken part in Tokyo Designers Week as well as a few other events outside Spain. Tell us about your experience of the international market and whether you’re currently working on any other foreign projects.
Andreu Carulla: We’re very pleased that we have a growing presence on an international level. We believe that increasingly Spanish design is better-known and more valued abroad, and this is helping Spanish design studios a lot. We’re getting contacted more and more ourselves now by foreign companies putting forward projects to work on together. We’re currently working with several Chinese companies and have just embarked on a project with a multinational company with offices in London, Geneva and New York.
We’re also very interested in working in Japan, where we had the pleasure of exhibiting at Tokyo Designers Week last year. We know that Japan is one of the hardest markets to break into, but we think it’s worth trying.
IFS: Your studio was recently nominated at the Elle Décor International Design Awards of 2012 in the Young Designer category. What are the implications of this for a young Spanish design studio?
Andreu Carulla: Yes, internet users voted us the best young design studio in Spain! For us, it was a genuine pleasure to be nominated and this means that some people truly value our work. It’s given us a huge motivational boost.
IFS: What projects have you got coming up?
Andreu Carulla: We’re currently getting all our products ready to show at Superstudo Piu during the Milan Furniture Fair. Thanks to its side-show called Product Design Madrid, we’ll be able to be there and exhibit our most recent work longer this year. What’s more, we’re working on some outdoor furniture we’ll be showing in October in Germany, as well as some street furniture and homeware.