MAYICE is a Madrid-based multidisciplinary studio founded by architects Marta Alonso Yebra and Imanol Calderón Elósegui in 2014. ‘We don’t consider ourselves designers or artists or architects, but creatives,’ they say. ‘We solve problems and provide aesthetic answers to needs, while always respecting the soul of materials.’
Its first product, Zoo, was exhibited during New York’s design week in a show called Wanted Design, and in Milan it was featured in various international media outlets, while the magazine A+Awards Architizer gave it a Special Mention.
In recent years, the studio has worked on interior design projects and designed furniture and objects which have been exhibited at design weeks in New York, Berlin and Milan. The company likes to collaborate with local artesans, studying their materials and manufacturing methods in detail. One example is its latest project — the Rfc+ collection of pendant lights made for the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja in Spain, which combines handcrafted methods, history and technology.
Marta Alonso Yebra and Imanol Calderón Elósegui opened their studio and chatted to us about their way of working, experiences of international exhibitions and latest projects:
Interiors From Spain: How did you two trained architects make the move into design? What drew you to it?
MAYICE: It’s something that arose out of necessity and out of our curiosity to do something different. The architecture we believe in doing is complicated to carry out. We began by experimenting with design and, before we knew it, it had became an everyday activity for us. We really like the handcrafting of materials by local craftspeople — wood, metal, textiles and glass.
Interiors From Spain: What’s your working method when you create a piece?
MAYICE: It’s never the same. It depends on the client. We try to provide aesthetic responses to everyday needs and to those of our clients, while preserving the soul of the materials used.
Interiors from Spain: How important are materials and use of space in your creations?
MAYICE: Materials are very important. We believe that a good choice of noble materials, how they are combined and their finishes are essential. These details help to create carefully considered spaces with character. Having space — one that’s well lit — is a luxury. And it’s essential for people.
Interiors From Spain: You like to work with craftspeople. What qualities do you think craftsmanship brings to design?
MAYICE: A personal feel, experience, knowledge, luxury, attention to detail and character.
Interiors From Spain: As well as designing products, you’ve undertaken interior design projects. Can you tell us about your career as interior designers?
MAYICE: Interior design projects have gradually come to us without us having to seek them out. They’ve been small projects in which the use of every centimetre was vital. We’ve always tried to provide aesthetic and functional solutions to our clients’ needs. As for shops, we believe we’ve always made them — and the everyday lives of our clients — function better. We’ve created larger, more light-filled spaces which in turns helps to increase sales.
Interiors From Spain: In 2015, you participated with us in the exhibition Wanted Design in New York. What was your experience of collaborating with ICEX like? Did you gain any US clients? Would you recommend the event to other Spanish design studios?
MAYICE: It was a great experience and one we’d highly recommend. The event allows you to meet designers from other parts of the world, you go to lectures and learn how other designers, artists and craftspeople work. It was also a way of promoting our brand. And, yes, we gained some US clients. It seems incredible to us that someone who is over 5,000 km from you, who won’t have seen your product in the flesh, decides to buy it online, perhaps because they’ve seen it featured in influential US blogs or magazines. The market of the big cities in the US is different to that in Europe.
Interiors From Spain: Have you also exhibited at other design weeks outside Spain, and if so where? How have these benefited you?
MAYICE: We’ve exhibited in Berlin, Milan, Florence and New York. We believe the most we’ve benefited from these was during the design weeks in New York and Milan, where we’ve had more sales and our designs have had more exposure.
Interiors From Spain: We’ve just come across your new ceiling light collection Rfc+, created in collaboration with the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja, and we love it! Tell us about this fascinating project.
MAYICE: It’s a very special project for us, thanks to the connection we have with the Real Fábrica de Cristales and with all the people who make it possible to exist in perpetuity, and to the opportunity it’s given us to work with our own historical heritage.
From early 2014, we started to produce our own glass collections and experiment with this magical material, to know how the craftspeople in the factory work and to fall in love with this place and the process of manufacturing glass.
In April, 2016, we received the request from the management to create some basic lights for them, after they’d seen some we’d produced in a house in San Sebastián. We felt very excited and had a great respect for the project. We were clear about where the collection was going. We wanted to highlight the beauty of the material, its transparency and its high quality, a quality that runs though the entire history of the Real Fábrica de Cristales.
For this we designed a light that backlit the material it was made of, that wouldn’t stop it from being the centre of attention and allowed it to produce reflections. The socket responds to a piece that adapts to the holes in the positive elements of the glass, made of hand-turned aluminium and to the high quality LED lights, which illuminates the space and the pieces with a warm temperature and a whitish tone. It also produces a thread of light and reflections in the horizontal area.
La Real Fábrica de Cristales has an extraordinary collection of moulds that brings together over 4,500 items of undoubted artistic interest and genuine hallmarks of the factory. For us, it was clear that we wanted to make use of these, so we chose 22 moulds to create a collection of 13 ceiling lights. Each mould has its own character and provenance. These has to be put on the verge of production to make the positive elements that give the lights their place. The choice of moulds was made with the master glassmakers. We looked for forms that could be mixed or were simply beautiful forms that can be lit up.
The process saw the creation of a technical book which the master glassmakers have; carving was involved as well as lamps that explain the guidelines of the collection, the lengths, the drills and the assembling of elements. Oil lights’ moulds, sediments, pitchers and tulip-shaped lampshades were combined to create contemporary lighting. The glass pieces are manufactured in the kilns of the Real Fábrica de Cristales using the traditional technique of blowing glass canes. We’ve also made a video that explains the process behind the manufacture of the collection.
This is dedicated to all people, who with love, hard work and enthusiasm ensure the permanent existence of the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja de San Ildefonso. We believe that each time an Rfc+ light is sold it helps to preserve our historic heritage.
Interiors From Spain: What about the future? Can you reveal any new projects?
MAYICE: We’ve got several in the pipeline, including a light that casts reflections and projects light on to the ceiling and a house that’s unusual with views of the sea. And all the new projects that we undertake in 2017 we’ll treat with love, enthusiasm and as much dedication as possible.