Product design studio, ephemeral spaces and ideas laboratory founded by industrial designer Héctor Serrano in London in 2000. After a decade in the British capital, he moved to his native Valencia where he continues to create products and spaces that attract people in the most human, emotional and extraordinary way possible. The search for innovation and personality, while maintaining timelessness, simplicity and attention to detail, is his label in each of his projects.
The studio's clients include firms and institutions such as Roca, Fundación "la Caixa," Fundación Telefónica, Noken by Porcelanosa, Muji, FontanaArte, Gandía Blasco, a by Arturo Alvarez, Droog Design, Lexon, Lékué and Seletti, among others. During these years he has received numerous international awards such as the Red Dot Design Award, Designer of the Year 2009 from the prestigious AD magazine, Best of the Year Awards from the American magazine Interior Design Magazine and the Peugeot Design Award. His design pieces have been exhibited in museums such as the V&A in London and the Cooper-Hewit National Design Museum in New York and are part of several collections such as that of the Central Museum in Amsterdam. In 2010, the studio founded Borealis, the company that carries out the studio's design of spaces, installations and ephemeral exhibitions.
The studio also has a Laboratory of Ideas (LAB) where research projects are carried out allowing both to implement new formulas and to question existing ones. His projects combine innovation with the communication of common ideas in an unusual and inventive way.
We spoke with Héctor Serrano about his career, his designing and experimenting system, and his projects:
Interiors from Spain: Do you remember when you first became interested in design? And your first creation?
Héctor Serrano: I came across design a bit by chance, I was a very bad student at school and when I had to decide what degree to study a friend told me about design. He told me that you didn't have to study much, everything was very practical and project-based, and I said to myself, this is my shot. Indeed, when I started studying, I went from being one of the lasts to one of the firsts. The funny thing is that many of my classmates had a similar profile and many of us were repeaters at school.
My first creation that I remember was a chair for a contest that I didn't win and almost better not to remember it too much hahaha. Perhaps what I take from that first experience in design, is that I did it on my own initiative, I think I had not even begun to study design, but I remember how motivated I was, and it was the indicator that I was interested in it and it awakened my curiosity.
Interiors from Spain: You traveled to London to study a Master's Degree in Product Design and stayed there to found your own studio in 2000. What did you learn from that international experience and how did it enrich your creative method?
Héctor Serrano: I learned a lot, both personally and professionally, getting out of your everyday context makes you learn not only about the place where you are going, but where you come from and to see it in a totally different perspective, it helps you to know how to observe and to understand that there are many ways of understanding life and consequently design.
Interiors from Spain: And a decade later you returned to Valencia, your birth city. What did you find about the industry and design in Spain? What had changed?
Héctor Serrano: When I was in London, I was in continuous contact with Valencia, so I didn't notice a radical change. I could see how, little by little, great quality studios were emerging, and others were becoming established together with a consolidated industry.
Interiors from Spain: Tell us something about your design. What are its key features?
Héctor Serrano: For us each project is a new story, and we treat each one uniquely, but there are two features that are always present in one way or another. On the one hand, the common aspect where we play with the preset memory of objects and contexts and on the other hand the new, unexpected ingredient that gives the project an innovative nature. All with the aim at creating projects that appeal to people in the most human and emotional way possible. Projects that are useful and beautiful and that ultimately make our experience more delightful. We are interested in timelessness, simplicity, attention to detail and of course sustainability.
Interiors from Spain: Your product designs. Where does your inspiration come from? What is your creative process like? What sectors and materials appeal to you the most?
Héctor Serrano: Inspiration is in the day to day, in knowing how to observe, in being curious and seeing what surrounds you from a new perspective, depending on how you contemplate and interpret it. It can come from a movie, a conversation, something you see on the street, from an industrial process, from decontextualizing an object or even from another project. Our creative process is not linear, it requires going back and forth, trying, testing and experimenting. I'm interested in all sectors and especially those that we haven't approached before, I think that coming from a different area can bring a lot to the project, a new and unexpected vision. The material is just another tool, and I don't prefer one or the other, I think the key thing is to find the right material to convey the idea.
Interiors from Spain: Tell us about your "Borealis" design spaces. What do you intend to convey in these sensorial installations? What elements have you worked with and which ones would you like to use in the future?
Héctor Serrano: With the spaces, we try to create sensory and immersive experiences where it's not just about communicating information, but about feeling, seducing and entertaining. It is obvious that we are bombarded with information in our daily lives, and we want the spaces we create to be sensory oases where with very few elements we can communicate a great deal. We play with light, very diverse technology from kinetic structures, LED screens, interaction, but always in the most human and evocative way possible.
Interiors from Spain: In 2008 you participated with ICEX in Tokyo as curator and designer of one of these ephemeral installations "Spain Emotion". What memories do you have of that work and the experience with the Japanese public and ICEX?
Héctor Serrano: "Spain Emotion" was an incredible experience. One of the things that most struck me was that when the public entered the room their eyes opened, and they smiled. I remember that one person who knew the room before our intervention didn't believe it was the same, there was a complete transformation, and we achieved a very emotional and memorable effect.
Interiors from Spain: Your side as a researcher is embodied in your "Laboratory of Ideas". How do you experiment with objects? What aspects do you question? What products and topics have you experimented with and what feedback did you get?
Héctor Serrano: At Lab, we don’t focus that much on finding answers, but on generating questions. These are experimental projects that usually deal with current and future issues, they serve us as a reflection and understanding of the environment in which we live.
Interiors from Spain: This year Valencia is the world capital of design. What does it mean for a Valencian designer that your city will be the benchmark for design in the world in 2022?
Héctor Serrano: It is a recognition of the trajectory, history, present and future of design in Valencia and Spain. A great opportunity to show the world the potential we have, and also a guarantee and confidence seal for the creative industry, to be supported and recognized as a driving force internally.
Interiors from Spain: Of your latest works, which ones would you highlight and why?
Héctor Serrano: The "Xaloc" outdoor furniture collection for Möwee due to its innovative nature in the use of aluminum injection, creating an identifying, attractive and disruptive language within the sector. The "Degrade” lamps and tables collection for Nagami, our first collection of 3D printed furniture where we explore the ability to create gradients while manufacturing the pieces. Finally, the exhibition "PRINT3D" for Fundación La Caixa in collaboration with Carmen Baselga Taller de Proyectos. One of its design features is that part of the exhibition is 3D printed including a staircase of more than 43 feet.
Interiors from Spain: And by the way, what projects are you currently working on? Can you give us a scoop?
Héctor Serrano: One of the projects we're working on is "Beyond the Plastic Wave" in collaboration with Carmen Baselga Taller de Proyectos, which is part of Valencia World Design Capital and will be exhibited at Las Naves in Valencia. An immersive installation about the problem of plastic waste pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, which includes a 23 meter piece that we designed specifically for the exhibition, printed in 3D by Nagami from plastics collected and recycled from the sea.