Álvaro Goula and Pablo Figuera met while studying at the Elisava school in Barcelona, and in 2012 they created the Goula/Figuera Studio, from where they develop contemporary product design for companies, experimental design, and creative consultancy.
Since 2013, their work as designers is complemented by their teaching activity at Elisava and IED. And in mid-2015, they introduced "Home Adventures," a new brand under which they put ideas on the market that fall outside their work for other companies. Their first product, the “Lines & Dots” lamp, is acclaimed by the press and has great acceptance in the market.
After two years of growing sales, in spring 2018, Home Adventures becomes GOFI, a new brand that inherits the catalog of its predecessor and presents a wider range of products.
In their creations, Pablo Figuera and Álvaro Goula, seek the middle ground between conceptual and commercial design, where industrial values and creativity come together and feedback into each other. Their pieces aim to be elegant and easy to understand, but always avoiding humorous referentiality and superfluous decoration.
Their work has been exhibited in cities such as Stockholm, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona and Milan, and has been awarded, among others, with the Delta de Oro, Design Plus, Premio Injuve and the Lexus Design Award.
We spoke with Álvaro and Pablo about their trajectory, their design system, the GOFI publishing house, and the production process of these pieces, as well as the projects in which they are currently involved.
Interiors from Spain: How did you come to know each other? And based on what product design concepts did you founded the studio almost 10 years ago?
Goula/Figuera Studio: We met while studying product design at the Elisava school in Barcelona and quickly realized that we worked well together, which is not easy in the creative industry. We did our first professional projects while still students and that encouraged us to try it on our own when graduating in 2011.
During those years, with the interior design industry devastated by the crisis, trying to create a design studio was not only economically risky but also frowned upon by part of the design community. Many believed that the age of proper names was over and it was time for user-centered design, co-creation or social design. Time has shown that all these approaches can coexist.
Interiors from Spain: In 2015 you presented the Home Adventures brand together with the sculptural lamp "Lines & Dots," which had a great impact on the press. And in 2018, you turned this brand into GOFI. What led to this change?
Goula/Figuera Studio: In 2015 we had already been working for several years for companies in the interior design sector, especially lighting, but it was difficult for us to convince our clients to take risks, we saw that the projects we developed did not allow us to fully express our ideas and display our own true image. So, with a mixture of creative ambition and economic unawareness, we decided to produce and market the Lines & Dots family of modular lamps. As we were concerned that our customers and the press would confuse the core business model of Goula / Figuera, which was still industrial design for companies, we decided that this first product would be published under a different name: Home Adventures.
In 2018, after two years of growing sales for Lines & Dots and the Fa lamp, which was the second product published by us, we launched a collection of furniture and accessories with the aim of covering all home goods needs. But Home Adventures was a long name, hard to remember, and not very distinguishing, so we took the opportunity to rebrand the company and create a new image. Thus, GOFI was born.
Interiors from Spain: In your brand GOFI, we find daring pieces of furniture, lighting, and accessories that you create and publish. Where does your inspiration come from? What ideas do you want to convey in your designs?
Goula/Figuera Studio: As designers, the main advantage of being a publisher is, in theory, that we have more freedom to create than when working for clients. But this projected freedom can pose a threat to the company if its publishing line is neglected or if decisions are made based solely on artistic criteria. So, we could say that with GOFI, we try to maintain a balance between the needs of the company and our creative needs. And it’s not always easy; after all, we are creators rather than entrepreneurs.
When taking on a project, whether for GOFI or another company, what differentiates our work from that of others is how we see the world, our creative obsessions. While some designers shape their designs based on trends or profitability criteria, we look more at the message and emotion.
The basis of our work, therefore, focuses on the ability of human beings to interpret the language of objects and to be moved when looking at them or using them. Designers transmit messages that reach the user through materials, textures, colors, and shapes instead of words, and the reason why some objects move us and others don't is the same reason why a written sentence may or may not: its narrative construction, the context, the reader's memories...
Interiors from Spain: By the way, what is the production process of your pieces? Do you use a single workshop or do you work with several manufacturers? Would you recommend other European designers to work with Spanish suppliers? What added value can they provide?
Goula/Figuera Studio: When we designed the first GOFI collection, we prioritized aesthetic and expressive criteria over purely economic reasoning. Although the collection is small, there are many different materials and processes that require multiple suppliers, which meant a great deal of selecting and consolidation work.
Our entire collection is produced in Spain for two reasons. The first is a practical one: There is no need to go far away when we have dozens of craftsmen and industries utilizing very well the vast majority of materials used in domestic equipment. Metal and wood are processed here just as well as in European countries where it is more expensive to produce, and natural stone, well... we are better than Italians on the quality-price ratio.
The second reason is a strategic one: Many of our suppliers are older than us, so building a relationship of mutual respect and trust is essential. And that is more easily achieved if we are close by and speak the same language.
Interiors from Spain: In which markets do you sell these pieces and which ones are working best for you? In which cities can we find stores to buy your designs?
Goula/Figuera Studio: GOFI products are distributed mainly in Europe, although we are also present in The Conran Shop in Japan and make occasional sales in other countries.
Our main market is currently Spain, followed by Switzerland, France, Germany, and Belgium. Le Bon Marché in Paris, SCP in London, Domesticoshop and Minim in Madrid and Barcelona are some of the best-known stores where to find our products.
Interiors from Spain: Do you have an online store? How is it going? Have you noticed a growth in sales during this Covid 19 pandemic? Where?
Goula/Figuera Studio: In January 2020 we were at Maison & Objet Paris for the first time and we left very happy: new contract projects, interested distributors... but in March, the pandemic spread throughout Europe and many of the projects were canceled. It is true that online sales have grown, but in our case, they do not offset what we have lost. We are a small company that cannot invest heavily in online marketing, so sales to distributors and professionals are still essential.
Interiors from Spain: And this year, have you recently launched any new GOFI pieces?
Goula/Figuera Studio: Yes, we have just presented Chata, a particularly narrow lamp that reinterprets the classic typology of lamps with a fabric shade. In a world dominated today by the extreme minimalism allowed by the LED technology, the studio wanted to approach the traditional format, which remains unsurpassed in conveying warmth and comfort.
Despite its humble design, which seeks to combine the timelessness of the classics with a contemporary geometry, Chata hides a particular feature: the shape of its lampshade, cubic in appearance when viewed from the front, yet surprisingly flat in profile (hence its name), which allows it to be placed in places where other lamps would not fit, such as narrow shelves, bookcases, or very close to the wall when on a table.
Interiors from Spain: Apart from the work for your own publishing company. Do you design products for any brand in Spain or abroad?
Goula/Figuera Studio: From Goula/Figuera we have worked for national and international companies such as Habitat, Estiluz, Collection Particuliere, or Puig. And although these last two years we have been very focused on consolidating GOFI, we have recently recovered the activity in Goula / Figuera: Fermob has launched a version of our Salsa table, we have designed a collection of mirrors for a well-known Spanish publisher and we have been working for months with the lighting company we admire most...
Interiors from Spain: What projects are you working on for the coming months? Anything outside of Spain?
Goula/Figuera Studio: Little that we can talk about at the moment... we are developing a collection of outdoor lamps, planning the next GOFI releases, and dedicating part of our time to teaching, which is something we love.