After training as an industrial and interior designer in Barcelona and Milan, and living in Berlin in 1994, Martí Guixé formulated a new way to understand the culture of products.
His first designs went on show in 1997, and in 1998 he started designing store interiors for shoe brand Camper. His work has ranged from the creation of new product systems to food designing and presentation through performance. His gaze provides brilliant and simple ideas of a curious seriousness. His multifaceted creativity revolves around the slogan "Concepts and Ideas for Commercial Purposes", allowing him to turn his hand to any activity, from the interior design of venues and showrooms to advertising campaigns, events and publications, all with a highly personal take on product design and culture.
Martí Guixé has undertaken commercial projects and taken part in exhibitions in more than 30 cities worldwide. His work has been published in specialist books and magazines and can be found in museum collections in the MoMA in New York, the Mak in Vienna and the Central Museum in Utrecht.
Martí Guixé spoke to us about his work and ideas:
Interiors from Spain: A trip to the heart of the Martí Guixé universe brings to mind your slogan “Concepts and Ideas for Commercial Purposes”. What does it really mean?
Martí Guixé: It’s to show that what we do at the studio has a commercial aim, even if we sometimes use language and code from other disciplines, like art.
Interiors from Spain: You've been defined as a revolutionary, a visionary and a design scholar. Do any of the definitions fit? How would you define yourself?
Martí Guixé: Right from the start of my career I wanted to explore the limits of design, because I think that’s where the opportunities lie. Sometimes they're a bit risky, but that can be turned to advantage in products and brands. It means the kind of visibility that is so necessary given the large amounts of information we have to process, and that means recognition for the brand and its product.
Interiors from Spain: What are you looking for when you design an object? Do you draw inspiration from something or do you prefer to analyse the project first and then suggest ideas?
Martí Guixé: It’s more an analysis between the meticulous and the intuitive, as well as understanding the real needs involved so you can give them a format and a physical product or communication.
Interiors from Spain: In Spain, you introduced the “Food Design” concept which brings these two elements together. Give us your expert opinion on this design field. How has it evolved in Spain and worldwide in recent years? How do you see the future?
Martí Guixé: In 1997, when I presented the food design concept, there was no equivalent anywhere in the world, so it wasn't so much that I introduced the concept as that it actually began here in Spain. Food design is about seeing food as an object and applying your design project to these edible objects. The boom and expansion of this design discipline occurred about 10 years ago, in other words 10 years after I started. Today you can actual study it as a subject and I’ve created my own MA and teach it in Milan. As I see it, Food Design has a lot further to go and is poised to be a leading area in design in the near future and to generate a major change in industry.
Interiors from Spain: In such a competitive global world, we sometimes get the impression that the agri-food industry doesn’t make the most of all the creativity designers have to offer to make their product or brand stand out from the crowd and help sell it better. Is that true? What can a designer contribute in the way of improving brand or product presentation?
Martí Guixé: It’s not just about the presentation but the product per se and generally speaking, the way the agri-food understands its products and positions them in the market can’t compete on quality and product image with artisan produce. The fact that artisan food is geolocated and identified with particular regions means industry ends up being just an affordable option which emulates an existing traditional product. That has to change with 360º design, a consumer-focused project and a meta-territorial product which ignores traditional cuisine.
Interiors from Spain: Spanish chefs are a success around the world and some now look to designers to present their culinary creations and to studios to design their restaurant interiors. How could those partnerships be encouraged? More design training in cookery schools and vice versa? What would be your advice?
Martí Guixé: There are many different ways of designing and understanding design, which means that, unfortunately, many chefs will have had poor design experiences with unsatisfactory results. But it’s a bit like going to a restaurant that’s not up to scratch. You just have to try another one. In the same way you have to try out other designers.
Interiors from Spain: Your name is closely linked with international store design for footwear brand Camper. Tell us about that partnership. Do you start afresh with each Camper space or is there a common thread?
Martí Guixé: When I started working with Camper in 1998, the idea was mooted that the interiors should communicate brand values as well as being places to showcase and sell the product. So the spaces had to be special and innovative for brand promotion and image. Between 1998 and 2007, Camper underwent store-led growth: relevant examples are in New York's Soho, which became a local icon, and the temporary store on Via Montenapoleone in Milan which, in 2000, became the first pop-up in the history of retail, opening even before the concept or name “pop-up” existed.
Interiors from Spain: Tell us about your latest work as an interior designer in London, Rome and Barcelona. Can you give us a preview of any new projects in the offing?
Martí Guixé: Right now, I’m working on a bookshop for a cultural and art centre in Turin. I’m involved in an interesting project for Estrella Damm and the ExDesigner Project bar in Barcelona, where we're trying out new 3D printing technologies to implement our ideas in spaces.
Interiors from Spain: You've designed products for Italian, Danish, German, Dutch, Finnish and Spanish companies. Are there any significant differences between Spanish and other European businesses? What advice would you give to young Spanish designers seeking to go global?
Martí Guixé: Bear in mind that Europe is your local market. Right now, I think Spanish companies have considerable creative and movement capacity and they should take the bull by the horns and offer unique products, rather than just following fashion. That's the way to get ahead of their European and international competitors.
Interiors from Spain: Finally, as a design researcher and consultant, what's your perspective on the new ways of communicating design through influencers and bloggers?
Martí Guixé: What interests me is the amount of communication out there and how easily it's generated. This means that the more unique and relevant the information, the more influence it is likely to have.