The first meeting of National Design Award companies at Feria Hábitat highlights the quality of Spanish design.
For the first time ever, the current edition of the Feria Hábitat Valencia was the stage for meeting of a large group of companies that have all been recipients of the National Design Award throughout the thirty years of its existence. The “Design Festival”, which is what the event has been called, was organised by REDE Aede and Actiu, who was the last recipient of this award.
Figueras, Metalarte, Mobles 114, Nanimarquina, Punt Mobles, Santa&Cole, Simon and Actiu participated in an interesting debate on the state of design in our country, held in the Actiu Meeting Point space at the Féria Hábitat trade show, which was moderated by Juan Mellen, Executive Director of RED.
All participants agreed on their vision of national design as being authentic, strong and holding huge potential, although they also recognised that the implemented communication strategy has been insufficient, especially in the international realm.
Vicent Berbegal, president and founder of Actiu, 2017 National Design Award, stressed that “Spanish design is conquering the world because it conveys certain product values such as vibrancy, warmth, colour and, above all, functionality. Design in Spain has been contemplated from a perspective of creativity tied to the concept of use, in order to provide those solutions that are needed by society, without any restrictions or limits. And this is the distinguishing factor that makes us so valuable.”
As highlighted by Actiu's Strategic Brand Director, Soledad Berbegal, who has been in charge of representing the Alicante brand at this meeting:
“We are impulsive and passionate. For two years we have worked hard to achieve this award and now we want to share it and turn it into the beginning of something much bigger, that will be long-lasting and will emphasise the strength of Spanish design and companies.”
The eight participating companies shared with the large audience what it meant for them to have been recognised by one of the most prestigious design awards at the national level. Vicent Martínez, the founder of Punt Mobles, who received the National Design Award in 1997, highlighted that “Throughout these past 20 years, Spain has experienced a major change in terms of the conception of design. When I got my start, I was a businessman and entrepreneur by default, because there were no other companies that manufactured what I was manufacturing at the time. A modern industry needed to be created. Little by little schools and professionals began to appear, giving way to a passionate generation who believed in design. We now have important world leaders in the industry.”
Figueras won the National Design Award in 2013, after presenting themselves 13 times, and according to their Design Manager, Pau Borrás, “We were insistent. The award represented a recognition of our authenticity, a company is authentic when it has a story behind it and I believe that this applies to all of us here today” said Borrás. Figueras was born with an industrial profile that continues to mould its DNA, which over time has also incorporated design as an intrinsic value of its strategy.
The National Design Award is a recognition of a company’s trajectory and specific way of operating, in addition to giving those companies that receive it a significant leg up. A claim that all those present have agreed with.
Nanimarquina was the first company founded by a woman to receive the National Design Award in 2005. Represented at the Design Festival by Maria Piera, General Manager and second generation of the company, she commented:
“It was a huge push for all those who were a part of the brand. Design has been a way of experiencing and understanding the company. The award is confirmation.”
Along the same lines, Tomeu Gomila, Brand Director of Metalarte, who received the award in 2004, said “The award opens doors for you, 80% of our production is sold outside of Spain, and the award positions you qualitatively. It is also a really great communication tool.”
Santa&Cole, National Design Award winner in 1999, and Mobles 114, in 2001, were two examples of companies that were born for design with it representing the founding pillar of their activity. For them, design outlives a company’s lifespan. In fact, one of the most noteworthy things that Mobles 114 has done, according to its Director General, Mercé Rovira, is the reissue of classic pieces such as the Gira lamp or the Torres Clave armchair.
Simon, the company with the longest professional career, also participated in this meeting. It received the National Design Award last year, coinciding with its 100th anniversary. Salvi Plaja, its Design Manager, emphasized “We prepared a lot and took a risk by presenting ourselves as candidates the year before and the year of the 100th anniversary”. Plaja commented that one of things that is hardest to maintain over time is “staying detail-orientated. Details that refer to the ways of communicating, manufacturing and the work done by our people. It is a part of our identity, paying attention to the invisible details, like the unseen parts of our products. These values help you to keep moving forward for so many years.”