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ACTIU Berbegal y Formas, S.A.
Talking to Arnau Reyna from Owwi

Talking to Arnau Reyna from Owwi

MAY 2024 | 4 minutes

"From architecture we have learned that there is no architectural space without something happening inside it; there is no space without content, hence our obsession with furniture.

Ramón Arnau (Denia, 1984) and Mariola Reyna (Valencia, 1985) are Arnau Reyna, the Valencia-based multidisciplinary studio that draws on their dual training in Architecture and Industrial Design. Greatly passionate about product design, on which they focus their work, and after collaborating with recognised national and international brands, the couple have created Owwi. A programme of soft seating devised for contract environments but with a domestic feel, simple but with a unique and recognisable formal charge that reflects Actiu's identity while at the same time satisfying the demands of today's market.

You have worked for a large majority of national brands and some international ones. Do you notice any difference between commissions from Spain and those from other places with a more established 'design culture'?

We wish there wasn't, but yes there is, our foreign clients come mainly from Northern Europe, where fortunately the design culture is strongly established and you don't have to do so much preaching. They have a deeper understanding of the importance of design in their products and tend to be more demanding in general terms.

Design has gone from being considered something 'exclusive' and sometimes inaccessible to being part of our daily lives. How has the studio experienced this change? Is it easier to make and communicate design than it was a few years ago?

A few years ago we still met some companies that were unaware of the designer's role in the company's strategy. They saw us as something more ancillary and associated with luxury brands, but more and more brands want to count on our opinion (of design professionals in general) when it comes to tackling the challenges that allow them to reach all kinds of audiences. From our point of view it is not easier now than before, as good design is not about exclusivity, but about good solutions, however it is true that the result is reaching more people.

What do you understand as 'good design' and what does it have to have for it to work?

For us, a good design is one that is both beautiful and functional, one thing should not compromise the other. If there is too much or too little, it is no longer good design, it has to be balanced.

Do you think it is difficult for young designers in our country to set up their own studio, and what advice would you give them?

Our recommendation is that they should learn from other studios and companies before setting up their own studio. If industrial design is what they are passionate about, they should go for it. You can't survive on your own in this profession if you don't have a passion for what you do.

What is a typical day like in your studio?

It can vary depending on the nature of the project we are working on, usually first thing in the morning we plan the day according to the projects in progress and assign tasks for the day. Then we each dive into the work and share ideas as needed. We listen to music in the background, exchange ideas, sketch on paper while looking for the best solution for each project.

If you had to define your work in a few words, these would be...

Designs that connect with the user and the spaces they inhabit based on simple ideas, and timeless pieces that are not influenced by passing trends.

You are an example of an interdisciplinary studio, with projects in industrial design, strategic consultancy, branding, creative direction, art direction, interior design and ephemeral architecture. In which one do you feel more comfortable and how do you relate some disciplines to others?

We feel most comfortable in furniture design, although we also provide art direction and advice to companies in the habitat sector, as long as there is a connection with the client and we are enthusiastic about the project.

Owwi is your first product for Actiu, which has already been awarded a prestigious Red Dot...

What inspired you and what are the concepts behind its design, manufacturing process, materials, shapes?

Formally, we were asked for a piece that was simple to interpret, that would fit in all kinds of spaces, but with a formal charge that would make it unique and recognisable. And, although it is mainly a contract product, it has that domestic feel that makes it endearing.

How has the process of working with Actiu and the evolution of the project since its beginnings been, what are the highlights, what do you take from this collaboration?

The process of working with Actiu has been a very rewarding challenge from the beginning. We have loved working closely with the team, understanding their needs and objectives, and thus providing a design solution that reflects their identity and meets the demands of the market. We take away from this collaboration the possibility of contributing to the success of the company, as the piece is being very well received in the market.