Lagranja Design is a multidisciplinary design studio, founded in Barcelona in 2002 by Gabriele Schiavon and Gerard Sanmartí. It specialises in the creation of interiors, products and temporary installations.
The studio gets its name from the street where it first opened, which literally translated means “Farm”. Lagranja Design is an expert in industrial design for business, cultural installations, retail projects for Horeca and building refurbishment. Its own furniture catalogue, Lagranja Basic Collection, features a series of chairs, stools, couches and tables made from the finest materials, all available from its e-shop.
In 2010, Lagranja Design consolidated growth with new offices, first in Hong Kong and later in Istanbul. Shortly afterwards, in early 2011, the studio moved to new premises in a Modernist biscuit factory in Barcelona. Now it has a team more than 15 strong. Lagranja Design has won leading accolades at home and abroad, including the Red Dot Award (2007), Premi Ciutat de Barcelona de Disseny (2008), the Via Prize (2009), IIDA Excellence Award from the International Interior Design Association-USA (2009), IDEA Award (2008) and the Silver Delta (2012).
In this interview, co-founder Gabriele Schiavon gives us an insight into their “Farm” and its defining features, and tells us about interior design and decorating projects the studio has already undertaken and others it is working on now.
Interiors from Spain: How would you define your studio’s designs? Is there something that identifies what you create?
Lagranja Design: One of our guiding principles is never to repeat what we've done before, either in product or interior design. We try not to talk about a specific “Lagranja style” but our work does have certain identifying hallmarks. For instance, we adopt a scenographic approach to our work and try to give it a narrative component. In short, our spaces have a story to tell. Another feature is the use of unique items specifically made for the project which are a key part of the design. (The traditional Catalan Gigante and Cabezudo figures made for the FOC restaurants in Singapore or the light-box bar counter featuring old gadgets at the Monochrome brasserie are recent cases in point). The same principles guide our product design work. We like to think of them as having a Nordic look suffused with the warmth of the Mediterranean. We want to surprise without overpowering and above all without ever being boring.
Interiors from Spain: Tell us a bit about the team. How have you changed over the years and what have new people and partners brought to the studio?
Lagranja Design: We started out 15 years when the two of us (Gerard Sanmartí and Gabriele Schiavon) founded the company. After a few years and plenty of moving about, we’ve been joined by other product and interior designers and there are now about a dozen on the team. They're young and very committed, full of life and talent. To be honest it’s like being part of a big family. That’s why we didn’t give the studio our own name and we don't sign projects individually. We had that clear in our minds from the outset. We avoid personality cults because in reality, everybody contributes. Later we opened our office in Hong Kong and then in Istanbul in 2014, where we have a little design studio headed by Tunga Baysal.
Interiors from Spain: The opening of your Hong Kong office in 2012 was an important milestone. Why Hong Kong? Was that the start of your global growth? Tell us about your implementation strategy and how you went about it.
Lagranja Design: Well, we wouldn’t call it “global growth” as such, although it’s true we work in Asia a lot, particularly Hong Kong and Singapore. But we never talked about a strategy or anything like that. The Hong Kong office was the result of a trip organised by the Barcelona Centre de Disseny (the design promotion centre of Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce and other institutions). That’s where we met Gemma Fletcher with whom we found ourselves on the same wavelength. We started working with her on projects in Hong Kong and she later became the office manager.
Interiors from Spain: Apart from Hong Kong, you also have another office in the Turkish capital Istanbul. How important are these offices for developing projects in these and neighbouring countries?
Lagranja Design: It means we can keep tasks separate so we can focus on the creative side of things in our Barcelona studio, while the offices take care of the day-today running of the company, customer management, building work and the like. And that, of course, is a big help, because they’re not only acquainted with the local market, suppliers and professionals, but also know about cultural differences we need to be aware of when we’re undertaking a project in a different country.
Interiors from Spain: How about your Singapore adventure where you did the interior design, architecture and furniture for the FOC restaurants with chef Nandu Jubany. Tell us about that experience. And what are your feelings about this kind of food and design partnership?
Lagranja Design: We've known Jubany for many years and had already worked together on his restaurants in Catalonia. We’re very proud to have been chosen as travel companions for his Singapore adventure. To be honest, it’s proving a very close and productive partnership and is very much based on friendship. He’s no conventional customer. We're learning loads from him and we hope he might have learned a little bit from us too.
As for the food / design combo, it’s a really interesting territory to explore. And Lagranja Design likes creating fun spaces, so places targeted at food and leisure are particularly suited to our “inventions”.
Interiors from Spain: In recent years, Lagranja seems to have focused on international interior design projects. Any plans for Spain?
Lagranja Design: We recently sent out a newsletter to friends and associates joking precisely about that, what with everybody saying “you don’t work around here any more”! But it’s just not true! We took the chance to refute this continual reproach by presenting projects which, although they're still at the work phase, are based in and around Barcelona. Perhaps people get that impression because the projects we’ve completed in the last few months happen to have been in Singapore and Istanbul. But in 2016, we designed offices for the Typeform start-up in Barcelona, and at the end of a year, a little café in Lleida.
In the months to come we’ll be finishing a number of other projects in Catalonia. In Barcelona, we're working on a luxury apartment block in the city centre, near Passeig de Gràcia and Diagonal, and we’re putting the final touches to what is due to become Airbnb’s Barcelona HQ. We’re also refurbishing the old courtrooms in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, which are set to become a training centre for the publisher’s Planeta and a large hotel for Meliá in Sitges. That’s a project we're very excited about, because it’s in the legendary tourist resort that used to be Hotel Terramar – a byword for glamour and luxury in the 1930s.
Interiors from Spain: In 2015, you took on the challenge of self-production for your Basic collection. How did that collection come about and what does the production process involve? Have you launched any new items? How does the e-shop work?
Lagranja Design: A few years back, we launched the Lagranja Collection, the brand under which we produce and sell the furniture our studio designs. Basic was the debut collection, but there were also other items on that new catalogue. Now we're launching a second edition to which we’ve added our first outdoor items. Apart from producing our own furniture and keeping control over how it’s made and distributed, the aim is also to grow the brand.
After all, Lagranja Design is a service provider. Lagranja Collection is an editor which designs and creates products. It complements our brand and we hope it’s an aspect of the studio that will grow over time.
Interiors from Spain: Recently, you also launched BOLD, your first line of outdoor furniture. Tell us about it.
Lagranja Design: The collection is intended to complement the Basic line. It’s our first outdoor furniture collection. As with many of our other products, the Bold Collection came about because of needs we detected in our interior design projects. The Bold chair was specifically designed for The Populist, a beer bar in Istanbul which needed outdoor chairs that wouldn’t look out of place if they were brought inside. Then there’s the armchair and the divan we designed for FOC Sentosa, the restaurant and beach club on the island of the same name, a tourist resort in Singapore.
The design lives up to its name – emphatic and daring. The pieces shy away from minimalism in favour of sturdiness and powerful colour. This categorical look was achieved with 32mm-diameter aluminium tubing – generous measurements when compared to the standard generally used for this kind of furniture. Contrary to appearances, these creations are actually very lightweight and easy to move around, essential for outdoor furniture, especially in contract projects. Mass-dyed acrylic tape yarn has been used in seats and backs, for extra lightness. This ensures long-lasting colours, even out of doors.
Interiors from Spain: What collections and installations are you working on now? And any exciting future projects you can tell us about?
Lagranja Design: Well, apart from the projects we've mentioned in Barcelona, L’Hospitalet and Sitges... We also have some ongoing in Hong Kong, like an office building designed for start-ups. In Turkey, we're working on a couple of restaurants for D.REAM (the group behind a number of other Turkish projects), plus a small French restaurant and ambitious new premises for The Populist beer bars in the Bebek neighbourhood. On product design, we’re putting the finishing touches to our latest Lagranja Collection catalogue, featuring Bold and various other fun products. And the work goes on in our workshop too, where we're busy making prototypes for more new creations!