OTHR

USEFUL / AESTHETIC / UNIQUE

MEET KUTARQ STUDIO

Leading his studio Kutarq, Jordi López Aguiló designs lighting and furniture objects for residential spaces with a unique and pragmatic perspective. With the constant challenge of revealing the "soul" behind his objects, he offers their users not just an aesthetic piece but rather a design with personality and a life of its own.

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QUICK FACTS


Studied architecture and furniture design.
Known for numerous international collaborations.

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Carved Pill Bowl

CREDITS

Written by Paola Brito
Photographs by Dani Pujalte
In collaboration with Freunde von Freunden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The main goal is to give the product a soul, a life of its own. To give it a personality and allow it to convey something to the one who's using it, the one who's contemplating it."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"We like to work with kitchen-related analogies, the act of production as if it were cooking. There you have textures. You have functionality. Many elements that coincide."

 

Finding that the culinary arts offer an excellent form of analogy for his creative processes—by combining textures and elements, he attests that his creativity is drawn from nature, urban elements and his travels. After spending time abroad collaborating with prestigious architecture and design firms in Paris and Copenhagen, he finished his master in Barcelona and decided to finally settle down in his home region of Valencia where he's been leading his own studio since 2012. In a warm-hearted and laid-back chat, he reveals his thoughts, his production processes and his constant quests to offer his audience designs that are each more original and versatile than the last.

 

You studied architecture and have been working in design for a couple of years now. How do you combine the two professions?

I like having the background that architecture affords me. Although the two are always connected, it's good to have the knowledge of the materials, construction and structure. In Spain, you're often made to think about that a lot, about how something is made, how the structure will behave and not just about the aesthetics. So although I would like to continue working on some architecture projects in the future, at the moment I'm very content doing product designs and lamps. I don't mind if they call me a designer or an architect, both are valid.

What's the process like when it's time to develop your products?

First, to create a new concept or a new path of research, I always play with a material, samples or immediately draw sketches of some idea I’ve had. I get inspired by nature, some urban element or during my travels and start drawing and doing mock-ups on paper. I really like working with origami patterns. In one of my latest projects, a room divider called Just fold it, the first mock-up that I used was a folded piece of paper. So it often starts by taking a piece of paper, cutting it and gluing it. That's how new forms that don't initially have a clear function are able to be something purely structural and an application emerges later. Other times, it's the opposite. It begins with an application and an aesthetic form is investigated that's merely functional but has a bit more emotion. The main goal is to give the product a soul, a life of its own. To give it a personality and allow it to convey something to the one who's using it, the one who's contemplating it.

What do you think differentiates you from other designers?

I think my work is rather eclectic and varied. I like that each project is totally different from all the others and that each design is a new challenge and a new way of working. Not getting stuck on one style. I like Scandinavian design, Japanese design and Swiss architecture and am influenced by many different camps. But I don't want to categorize myself in any one of them. It's like with music: I like in each style of music, different artists.

 

Why do you associate music with your method of production?

Because it's like when you listen to a good song just once, you probably haven't understood it entirely. Until you listen to it several times and then manage to understand it. Then you realize that it has details and subtle things that were hidden. In that sense, I like the way people progressively discover my work little by little, discovering new things in its nuances and structure that aren’t so easy to appreciate at first glance. That's the most difficult part of my work: creating something that's very simple in appearance but that conceals work and a background that's discovered little by little. That makes it stand the test of time and makes it more than simply a product released as a fad.

We know that many of your designs are printed in 3D. How do you relate to this technology?

I was initially very reluctant about using 3D printing. I didn't want to use technology and preferred doing it by hand and making the mock-ups the “old-school" way with classic tools like cutters and glue. But my colleagues convinced me and we've had a printer in our studio for two years now. The truth is that it's good to combine it with work done by hand. For certain things, it saves you a lot of time and the result is better than doing it by hand. I think the best option is always a combination: modern technology with a craftsman's know-how and the old tricks of carpentry.

Can you tell us another story about your products for OTHR that happened during their development?

The idea for The Carved Bowls came from the texture left by a spoon from eating yoghurt. When the idea came about, I first worked with a turner to realize it in a cylinder of wood. The first version of the prototype came from using this tool with different axes of rotation. One axis of rotation for each cavity. And after I had the samples in wood, I transferred the object to 3D format. It was the opposite of the normal process, in which the design is generally done starting with sketches in the 3D program and later moves from the digital format to analogue. But this time was different. Collaborating with the craftsman and later selecting the best remaining samples to transfer them to digital was a very interesting process.

The version of the product that we make now is ceramic. I find it interesting because it's a material that can be washed so it can be used in other environments like hotels, restaurants and in kitchen presentations, where I see a lot of perspective.

"We like to work with kitchen-related analogies, the act of production as if it were cooking. There you have textures. You have functionality. Many elements that coincide."

Are you looking to use your designs to innovate in the area of gastronomy?

I would like to do some sort of collaboration in that market in the future. I really enjoy cooking and here in the studio we have a ritual where each day one of us cooks for the others. Since it's an international environment, each person presents their dishes, their customs. It's a way of creating and sharing your culture with other people.

A while back, I did a presentation in Japan with a diagram that was an analogy between cooking edible ingredients and ingredients for furniture design. It was a kind of comparison that used the same vocabulary for both tasks. For example, grams and kilos for each material used in each project: instead of Materials, I put Ingredients: 1 kg of wood, 10 kg of metal, liters of paint, etc. We like to work with kitchen-related analogies, the act of production as if it were cooking. There you have textures. You have functionality. Many elements that coincide. And later someone has to approve of it. Looking for the satisfaction (of the user) is what's most important.