In 1984, Argentinian-born architect Jorge Pensi founded his own studio in Barcelona, specialising in the design of furniture and lighting, product visual image development and installations for all kinds of events. In the course of his extensive career, he has worked for well-known Spanish and international brands in the interior design sector, including Vondom, Akaba, Inclass, Resol, Viccarbe, Mobles 114, Cármenes, B.lux, Bover, Cassina, Alessi, Steelcase, Estel, Pedrali and Poggenpohl. Creations like his Toledo chair and Regina lamp are already icons of 20th-century Spanish design. Toledo is also the only item of Spanish design in the Vitra Museum, where it is one of the Design Masterpieces collection.
Pensi’s work is defined by the quest for timelessness, and his evocative, minimalist designs have received accolades like the Red Dot, IF Design and Good Design Awards. In 1997 Jorge Pensi, was awarded the National Design Prize for his career, the highest design and innovation honour given by the Government of Spain.
Come and meet Jorge Pensi and find out what inspires him and how he sets about tackling new projects.
Interiors From Spain: Next year will be your studio’s 35th anniversary. How has it and the way you design changed in that time?
Jorge Pensi: Creating and designing is as exciting today as it was then.
We’ve amassed a wealth of enriching experience over the years, working in partnership with companies in different countries.
In the meantime, my design team is thoroughly consolidated and we're practically a family.
Interiors From Spain: “Inspiration”. Where do you get it? Are there different ways to be inspired ? How do you go on to tackle the project?
Jorge Pensi: You get inspiration while you're working, but it can happen at odd times and places: in the cinema, while you're driving or drinking a cup of coffee on a sunny outdoor terrace.
The chemistry you form with the client placing the order is really important. The better the communication and the more the mutual respect, the quicker those thoughts start flowing.
Once I’ve hit on an idea and discussed it with the whole team, one of them gets designing with me and the object finally takes shape.
Interiors From Spain: You've designed all kinds of chairs, lamps, cutlery, rugs and even watches. Is there a distinctive feature that makes them yours?
Jorge Pensi:Well, it’s easier to quote what other people say:
“Minimalism with powerful signs of seduction and expression”
“An excellent example of poetry meeting realism.”
“Objects born to stand the test of time”
Interiors From Spain: What kind of clients are you most comfortable with? And what do you think it is that attracts them to your way of working?
Jorge Pensi: As I said before, I’m most comfortable when we share the same ideas about what a design should be. Mutual respect is crucial, whether it’s a big company or a small one, in Alicante or New York.
I think one of the key things about my studio is knowing how to listen to the customer, being able to reflect their concerns and having the flexibility to change something, provided the change doesn't affect the initial concept.
Interiors From Spain: Your Toledo chair, a Spanish 20th-century design icon is 30 this year. Congratulations! How do you go about creating a timeless object? How does the market influence the timelessness of a design?
Jorge Pensi: When you create something, you're trying to design something which above all gets away from the ephemeral trends of the day.
I try to be original, which means creating something that hasn’t existed before. An object that you see and want to have, that gives the impression of having always been there, even if it's brand new, and which shares your space without being out of place.
As an architect, my tacit partner is the architect or interior designer who is going to be using that chair, lamp or kitchen in his or her projects. They have to be objects that will stand the test of time.
If there’s one word that doesn't fit into the vocabulary of the design world, it’s fashion.
I aspire to create the maximum number of sensations with the minimum amount of resources, upending ordinary logic to see whether it’s possible to contribute something different.
The result is not always a foregone conclusion.
I always believe that the best is yet to come.
Interiors From Spain: And the Toledo chair just goes on and on…Will there be more reissues with Resol?
Jorge Pensi: Resol will be unveiling the new Splash Aire at the next Salone del Mobile in Milan. It’s a reissue made from a single piece of polypropylene and there’s also a new Toledo table made from sustainable materials.
Interiors From Spain: You’re very active on Social Networks. How important are they as a communication tool for a designer?
Jorge Pensi: I think it’s important to be on there to communicate new products, remember others and to transmit feelings and moods.
Interiors From Spain: They say that old rockers never die... How do you reinvent yourself in such a technological, competitive and global world as this?
Jorge Pensi: The thrill you get from creating and earning your living from doing it is a constant driver for reinvention.
Interiors From Spain: What projects are you currently working on?
Jorge Pensi: We're in full flow with products for Inorca (Colombia), Akaba (Spain), Resol (Spain), Estel (Italy), Pedrali (Italy) and OFS Brands (USA).
Interiors From Spain: And how do you see the future of design?
Jorge Pensi: If only I knew...