What does a National Design Award taste like?
Roca Madrid Gallery once again brought together the best of Spanish design at an event organised by Actiu in collaboration with RED (an Association of Design Companies) and Roca. As part of the programme during the Madrid Design Festival 2018 and under the slogan What does a National Design Award taste like? National Design Award companies came together including Marset, Mobles 114, Punt, Roca, Simon and Actiu. The meeting, which led on from the meeting held five months ago at the Hábitat Valencia Trade Fair, once again demonstrated the increasingly growing presence of design in companies and society, through six firms with very different histories but all with a passion for design.
The initiative was moderated by the journalist Andrés Rodríguez, editor of SpainMedia (a group that is part of the magazines Forbes, T-Magazine, Robb Report, L’Officiel and Tapas, awarded with the Spanish National Gastronomy Prize). It allowed participants to reflect on the past, present and future of design in Spain, not only as a driver for change in their own companies, but also for the “Spanish Brand”. After the discussion, the industrial designer Luis Eslava presented his own gastronomic interpretation of the values of each company, with gourmet tapas and a message specifically designed for each of them.
“Discover the importance of design in modern society using its greatest cultural asset” were the words which Juan Mellen, the Executive Director of RED, opened the conference with.
Actiu, the latest winner of the National Design Award, was the first to speak. When asked by Andrés Rodríguez about what there is to gain from a National Design Award, their Advisor and Communications Manager, Soledat Berbegal, highlighted the intense and passionate way in which the company lives for design, founded 50 years ago by her father and president of the company, Vicent Berbegal. “Our day to day includes getting excited about and living for design, both in terms of processes and communication”. In the same respect, Javier Marset, General Co-Director of the National Design Award winner in 2015, Marset, pointed out that “design has to be transversal and present at all levels of the company. It is not just about creating things, but about breathing design in every aspect”.
For Mariano Soria, Director General of Punt, “nobody can win a National Award without experiencing the culture of design”. Winner of the National Design Award in 1997, the company was founded as an editor, like Mobles 114. Founded by designers wanting to create their own designs, both have design embedded in their DNA. One condition, that of the editor, that Marset also shares, and as Gabriel Moragas, the General Co-Director of Mobles 114 (National Design Award 2001) highlights, “it provides a great freedom in the production process”. “It is not about setting limits on creativity, but about knowing the limits of the materials” explained Javier Marset, for whom being an editor and being able to have all technologies and materials available creates an infinite number of possibilities.
The Director of Design and Innovation at Roca (National Design Award 2002), Josep Congost, explained how over the 50 years of the company he realised that creating the product could not be in the hands of production and he started to rely on the collaboration of external designers, who gave a more open vision. For him, “a product is not only the function or form, but there is also an emotional side that should be left in the hands of the experts. A good designer should be on the verge of the impossible. That is what allows us to progress”. Three concepts - dedication, boldness and innovation- inherent to design which all of the participants agreed on.
The timelessness of products was also a subject under discussion. Both Mobles 114 and Marset expressed the importance that the durability of products has on the market, directly linked to sustainability. For Soledat Berbegal, from Actiu, “the way of working has changed a lot over recent years, and although furniture should be timeless, we should be able to redesign their use in order to respond to more current needs”. “It is about analysing peoples needs to, from there, manage to communicate and reach a greater target audience”, added Mariano Soria, from Punt.
Salvi Plaja, Design Director of Simon, the company awarded with the National Design Award in 2016, reflected on the impacts of internationalisation and how “not every country turns on the light in the same way, and is it necessary for companies to adapt to the culture and way of working in each place when designing”.
To finish, Luis Eslava presented his tapas, serving each of them on plates in a totem with different designs for each firm. A ‘Prawn carpaccio with radish, fennel and seaweed’, inspired by a Mediterranean rock on the seaside for Roca, ‘Olot Potatoes’ as a source of energy for Simon, ‘Sourdough and sunflower seeds breadsticks with hummus’ with the sun as the key source of light for Marset, ‘Valencian Paella with rosemary and spoon’, as a reflection of the Valencian innovation and tradition for Actiu, ‘Coca with olive oil and smoky grilled vegetables’, inspired by nature, organicity and wood for Punt, and ‘Bread with oil and chocolate’, as a nod to the innovation of Catalan culture for Mobles 114.
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