It’s a really big show, Habitat Valencia, and one of the city’s major attractions. (Ah Valencia: palm trees and paella, art deco and a Gothic dome, caf con leche and Calatrava.) Three fairs in one — furniture, lighting and home textiles — it runs annually at Feria Valencia, one of the world’s top fairgrounds, at the end of September. This year’s edition brought together 1,300 companies, 450 of which were from outside Spain (mainly Italy). Almost 85,000 people visited over five days.
At Habitat Valencia’s heart, literally and figuratively, is the NUDE (or Nuevos Diseadores) exhibition, Spain’s premiere showcase of new design talent from across the country: arranged in a cross-shaped layout, it marks the intersection of the fairgrounds’ four main halls; and the finished pieces and prototypes offer design at its freshest and freest.
This past September, 30 young designers took part in the seventh annual NUDE. I wish I could show all of their work. But, alas, there’s room only for a plucky seven.
1 — La Mamba Studio
The young creative team from Valencia — whose motto is “Looking for imaginative solutions & new materials usages” — made its debut at NUDE with not one but three stands. The first featured Blou (a), an award-winning table meant to be used at cocktail parties and events (the user “inserts” his or her plate into one of the sculptural object’s slots), Inspired by the waves of the sea and Mediterranean culture, it’s made of LG Hi-Macs acrylic solid surfaces. The second stand showcased a furniture collection called “Four Stories,” made in cooperation with Panelate, a manufacturer of MD decorative panels, with the support of the Didlab Group. Cocotile (b), a playful table-container with three compartments, is meant to evoke a reptile. Finally, the third stand featured Drombo (c), a surprisingly comfy armchair and sofa covered in ceramic mesh, the result of a collaboration with ceramics company Dune Direction. www.lamamba.es
2 — Nadadora
In its short life, this three-year-old Valencia-based studio has won a host of awards. Bootleg (a) is a collection of vases that takes its name from the European synonym for “mashup,” which refers to songs constructed from pieces of other compositions. (We North Americans define “bootleg” as a recording distributed without the artist’s permission). Nadadora makes use of ceramics companies’ old molds, modifying and mixing them to create something new. Solana (b) is a chair of elegant simplicity, constructed of steel tube and polyethylene textile. www.nadadora.es
3 — Raquel Moreno Lpez
At NUDE, the Madrid-born designer presented a research project that looks at materials through five products. “The idea is to knit together a variety of materials, de-contextualizing them, bestowing them in the process a new surprising character,” says Lpez. The Rafaela Lamp (a) weaves together the lamp’s own wire: “Electricity is responsible for everything here, a tangled form of electricity that shapes the light produced.” Papelera (b) is a wastepaper basket made from woven wastepaper. “The name involves a play on words in Spanish,” she explains, “where the word for wastepaper basket (‘papelera’) can also be construed as ‘era papel’ — ‘was paper.’ ” www.raquelmorenolopez.blogspot.com
4 — Ebual
Founded in 2003, this Valencia-based design trio — Llusa Morat, Marcos Martnex and Javier Herrero — works on industrial and graphic design projects. Air Chairs is a collection made up of a wide range of seats, tables and accessories for both the contract and home markets, produced by Exporium. All pieces are made of steel tube and synthetic fibre, making them highly durable. Colours include pistachio, fuchsia and grey blended with white. www.ebuala.com
5 — Fresku Studio
Peio Atxalandabaso is the creative director of this Bilbao-based design agency. “I carry out research about scenes from daily life,” he says, “providing my own personal interpretation through the creation of objects.” Case in point is the polyvinyl Blahblahblah Lamp, which “has a speech balloon shape and feels like chatting.” It can be made to order in any colour and size, with the client’s choice of word(s). www.freskuestudio.com
6 — Covitaca
Founded by 25-year-old Covadonga Carreo lvarez , this creative studio based in Murcia, Spain, develops interior, graphic and industrial projects. “I like simple objects, but they have to say something,” lvarez says. “They must speak for themselves about their purpose and function. Among the fanciful items she showed are Mybags (a), a series of lampshades made from crocheted plastic bags. Siamesas (b) are “chairs born to live together. Where would Laurel by without Hardy?” she asks. “They could be separate, but then they wouldn’t be the same. They need each other to show off.” Made of lacquered wood and aluminum, the chairs are bound together by a cotton rope. www.covitaca.com
7 — Obj. Studio
This Valencia-based studio was recently formed by Javier Taberner and Nacho Povedo, who, in a charmingly “right” English translation, consider themselves “two young designers with concerns entering show business.” Capri (a) is a light and easy chair made of stainless steel and rattan. Sbado y Domingo (b) makes something beautiful of concrete and cork — in the form of low tables. www.obj.es