Interview Cristian Zuzunaga

By Thomas Grimme, 21. Dezember 2013

Es freut uns sehr, dass sich Designer Cristian Zuzunaga (Homepage Zuzunaga) Zeit genommen hat, uns ein paar Fragen zu beantworten. Er erzählt von seiner Herkunft und was sonst noch Einfluss auf seine Designs nimmt. Zudem berichtet er über die lokale Herstellung der mit dem ICFF-Award ausgezeichneten Decken in Barcelona und über was wir uns noch in Zukunft von Zuzunaga Studio freuen dürfen.

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Can you tell us something about your background?

I am from Barcelona, Catalunya. My mother is Catalan and my father is Peruvian. I’ve lived and worked in London for the last 13 years, and I currently live between London and Barcelona.

You now have a design studio called Zuzunaga Studio. What brought you to the design field?

I actually began my career as a model. Through this work I travelled the world, seeing every city through a never-ending series of hotels, gallery spaces, and huge offices. I was also in this instance the object of every piece of work. Even though I had all this chance to travel and I was well-paid, it felt empty. One day I decided to base myself in London, return to studying, and design objects rather than be one.

Does your background inspire your design?

Yes of course. I was raised in a multicultural family, from two very distinct places, but always with a strong sense of local culture. This early beginning has informed my entire outlook: curious, eager to learn about and explore the world, but respectful of the specific human energies required to make an idea reality. My background as a model also fulfilled my curiosity to travel; however it also gave me a desire to make a more human, local connection. These are perhaps the most important elements that formed my impulses to design.

What else influences your design?

A trip to Shanghai in 2006 was the major impetus, and its impact still influences my designs and ideas.

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How is the creative process of developing a new idea?

It all starts from architecture and the built environment. I normally use photography as a starting point, either digital or analogic, it depends on the project & what I want to say or develop.

What stands behind the awarded „Integrate – Time and space“ edition?

The aim was to produce a collection that was handmade though it had a digital effect which has been achieved thanks to the way I use colour and the yarn we used. It is also a metaphor, to integrate time and space means to be centered and present and that is what aims at.

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Where are the Zuzunaga products made?

Zuzunaga products are all made in Spain, excluding some of our collaborations with companies like Kvadrat, who are based in Denmark and our digitally printed scarves, which are made in Italy. Our Integrate: Time and Space collection is made by hand in Terrassa, Catalunya, by Teixidors, an exceptional company and social enterprise.

Why is it important to you to have it made locally?

Deciding to become a company in this day and age, especially in Europe as it is economically, was seen as a crazy idea. But as a company we believe in working on a local level, even as we produce items whose designs are inspired by global megacities and digital migration. The commitment to working locally, building relationships with knowledgable and skilled craftsmen and manufacturers in our own culture, is one of Zuzunaga’s core values. It matters. Knowing the people who hand weave the blankets, meeting and visiting our manufacturers, building close ties with all our collaborators – this affects the product itself, and the richness of its enjoyment.

The making of Integrate: Time and Space from Zuzunaga on Vimeo.

What is so special about Teixidors?

Teixidors is unique. It creates wonderfully delicate, high quality products and is also a social enterprise. The company is based in Terrassa, which was the major textiles city in Catalunya in the twentieth century. Now, as the nature of textiles manufacture changes, the city is not so full of working factories. But that tradition and history is there. Teixidors was established in 1983 as a company working with local people with disabilities, training individuals in the craft of weaving. All their products are made this way, by hand, by people, on wooden looms – and the craftsmen and women that work their are very talented.

Some products are even hand made. What does tradition mean to you?

Yes, all our Integrate: Time and Space products are handwoven. Making by hand is the most ancient type of manufacture. For us, tradition is an important part of being contemporary. In fact, for me it was the missing piece in the digital puzzle. How do we combine the images, ideas and advances of the technological age with the real human experience? The age-old tradition of hand-weaving was the perfect solution. It defies speedy, one-click ways of buying or manufacturing. Every Teixidors product has the individual personality, time and care of the person who made it. And we love that.

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How important are the materials you use?

Extremely important, of course. Our products are designed to give an experience, not an image, so the texture and feel of the fabric is really important in creating this.

What does 100% Ecological Merino Wool mean?

It means that the yarn is produced in the best possible conditions. The wool is bought a year in advance, from a French herder. This means we know where the raw material comes from, how the animals are being treated and that we help local producers to stay alive.

What is Zuzunaga Studio?

Zuzunaga is a design studio specializing in unique, colorful interior products and fashion accessories. Founded by artist and designer Cristian Zuzunaga in 2010, the studio is now based between London and Barcelona. Drawing inspiration from suerpmodern architecture and the functioning of megacities like Tokyo, New York, Shanghai or London, our designs combine global outlook with local culture and crafts to reflect the unique characters and architectonic shapes that form today´s cities.

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How can you describe the philosophy?

Be yourself, be open and caring for the environment and others around you. Follow your dreams, be conscious and thankful.

What is the next project you work on?

In September we’ve got a very busy month, visiting three trade shows back to back: Maison et Objet, 100% Design Singapore and Design Junction, London. We’ll be launching new blankets there; but actually our future projects are looking towards a return to my very first career – fashion. We’ve started designing menswear and accessories. We are also currently collaborating with Brintons, one of the oldest companies in the world. Manufacturers of rugs, carpets and runners. My interest now is in how we can continue to explore digital imagery and handmade techniques and ideals in the two worlds of fashion and furniture.

Thank you and good luck!

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