Feria Habitat Valencia is, in addition to being an excellent commercial showcase for the main Spanish design brands, a fantastic platform for young designers and emerging talents. For the last 16 years, Nude, the promising young talent fair, has sought, on the one hand, to present the proposals that, from the design schools and universities, enhance self-publishing and the freshest ideas of these designers, and on the other hand, generate talks, round tables and conferences that contribute an educational nature to the fair.
This year Actiu wanted to be part of this space and promote, in the same way, these young designers, giving them the possibility to showcase their talent in product design based on the customization of the company's new super-stackable chair: Whass, designed by ITEMdesignworks.
In collaboration with Luis Calabuig from Odosdesign, director of the Master in Product Design at the CEU – Cardenal Herrera, Actiu thus proposed a customization contest for the Whass chair, for groups of up to five people, valued at €1,500 and who were free to customize it in whatever way they wanted. The results are amazing, with chairs that not only reinvent its appearance but also its functionality.
In fact, the winning design took the award precisely due to “its creative ability to provide an alternative use to Whass and make all the pieces fit perfectly to turn it into a swing”, according to the decision of the jury.
“Swing the Whass”, the winning proposal designed by students from the University of Navarra who, after dismantling the chair, turned its components around to come up with a new product that, helped by a rope, turns into a comfortable and functional swing. The legs change direction and the backrest is swapped with the seat to create a completely new use.
“All the proposals were really interesting. We are delighted with the talent and creativity that all the participants have shown. Choosing the winner was very difficult. But we chose this project because it manages to give a new use to the chair, turning it into a swing, a rocking chair. And at a time when workspaces seek to define meeting points, social and fun areas, fundamental for disconnecting from the stress of everyday life, it is a very interesting proposal”, according to the Actiu Brand Director, Soledat Berbegal.
The rest of the projects submitted to the contest also showed imagination and an impeccable execution.
That of the students from the Alcoy campus of the University of Valencia manages to immerse the user in the idyllic environment of the natural setting of Font Roja, providing the chair with the green of outdoor spaces, in particular football pitches, to include a goal, from its materials and microcapsules that give off the smell of grass.
The students of the Jaume I University in Castelló chose to place value and give visibility to the role of bubble wrap, the element that makes furniture reach its destination in perfect condition but which is usually discarded in the blink of an eye. By injecting liquid watercolour on bubble warp, the team managed to bring colour and visibility to this material, in addition to creating a geometric hexagon pattern similar to a ceramic mosaic.
The proposal by the students of the Master in Product Design at the CEU – Cardenal Herrera, for its part, advocates providing texture and comfort to the chair based on balloons filled with flour, which manages to simulate a viscoelastic foam, capable of adapting to the silhouette and physical characteristics of each person.
“La Whassona” is the name of the chair designed by the students from The Valencia School of Art and College of Design (EASD), who wanted to give warmth to the chair but without changing its structure. For this, they used scraps of disused fabrics with different textures that were interlocked and unlocked by different holes created in the backrest of the chair itself.
“This contest has generated a very interesting meeting point between University and industry. And it has shown, once again, that what manages to bring a project to life is the thrill, the positive energy and the commitment of the people involved. It is important for students to learn by doing and working as a team, creating ecosystems and knowing how to look for collaborators. With their proposals they make it clear that the design is more important than functionality and aesthetics. It is at the service of people and that is what we try to do at Actiu; understand the user first, their needs and their way of working”, states Soledat Berbegal.
Within the fair, Actiu also equipped the space for the Institute of Architects of Valencia and the Ágora Nude conference space, a meeting place where the main and most recent projects of this professional group were exhibited.