World Design Day 27·04·2020
Yonoh Studio: “Design will be part of the reactivation of the country” lifestyle
Young designers Álex Selma and Clara del Portillo have turned their passion into a business and their creations have won awards including WallPaper Design, Red Dot Design and the iF Design Award.
For Álex Selma and Clara del Portillo, beauty lies in simple things, in those small details that often go unnoticed but that manage to make an everyday object, such as a lamp or a chair, a work of art.
This is the philosophy espoused by Yonoh Studio, the ideas laboratory founded in Valencia in 2006, which continues to operate even in quarantine. They experiment with new formulas, moulds, textures and results, putting the why before the how.
This is the intention of their work. Of their artistic language, which defends usefulness, simplicity before flamboyance to improve the society of which they are part. “Everything will have to be redesigned”, they reflected from their respective homes in an attempt to decipher what the post-coronavirus world will be like and what role design will play in the economic and social reconstruction. Never before had global uncertainty revealed to them that the only valid and enduring thing is imagination. Every day is owed to it.
Q: In what shape or style is your design framed?
A: We have always liked simple and natural design, but it is true that Nordic design and our trips to Japan have influenced us a lot. We are also influenced by designers such as Naoto Fukasawa and Dieter Rams, who are our inspirations.
Q: What materials or colours define the Yonoh style?
A: We like raw tones and quality materials like wood and stone. We always start from there and we adapt depending on the project.
Q: Should the message that an object transmits prevail over the concept?
A: We like products to be close to the user, easy to use and long-lasting. We strive for our creations to have a story and for the client to identify with them, but they do not always need to have a message. In other words, the concept is necessary because it gives quality to the product but it could be a metaphor or something more concrete.
Q: The complexity of simple things…
A: Yes, making things simple and different is the most complicated thing. Creating those little objects that make your product different and rational is a big challenge, but it can be achieved with perseverance and work.
Q: You founded Yonoh Studio in 2006 and have since gained prominence both within Spain and internationally. What is more difficult, undertaking or sustaining a project of your own?
A: Carrying on in industrial design has been the most difficult. We know many colleagues who started like us and who have finally diversified their way of working, but luckily, we have been able to remain industrial designers. Now we no longer only have Spanish designers as competition, but the competition is international and making a name for yourself there has been very difficult.
Q: We live in the era of information overload, with an excess of messages and products. Do you think this constant onslaught has impoverished design?
A: We don’t think so because it is now valued more than ever. In fact, we think that design has been democratised a lot, because it is now more accessible to many more people. There are many levels of design and we see this from the studio, where we have all types of projects.
Q: What do your products respond to, the client or a specific context?
A: We always try to understand the client and imagine what their needs are. That’s why our products are aimed at a specific client in a specific context.
Q: What role does design play in society?
A: Design has been with us since the beginning of time, but it is a relatively new concept. We are sure that we will all go on learning little by little because design is necessary to move forward as a society.
Q: Do you think that everything that is happening to us will change the design we know today?
A: Being confined to home and seeing how the world has changed without us should make us think of a design that makes us live in peace with our planet. I hope we will achieve more ecological design, although we are not sure it will happen.
Q: How do you defend this ecological design from the Yonoh studio?
A: We try to convince our clients about the use or re-use of other more environmentally-friendly materials, but our society still does not understand that all of this has a price. Our children’s generation is more aware of ecology and they will bring the big change in the world.
Q: What role do you think design should play in the country’s economic and social recovery?
A: Design will be part of the country’s reactivation because we will have to redesign many things like services, strategies and our way of doing things. Maybe what has happened to us with make us understand that everything has to be redesigned to have a better society.
Q: You have won multiple awards: The Wallpaper Design, the If Design Awards, the Red Dot and the Porcelanosa Award for Interior Design. Out of all of them, which award came as the biggest surprise?
A: Porcelanosa’s award was completely unexpected and we were very excited about it because they gave it to us when we were just starting out.
Q: And was that when your relationship with Porcelanosa Group intensified? You have collaborated with a number of its firms in recent years…
A: Yes, the first project was ‘Vintage’ for L’Antic Colonial. We were commissioned to create a washbasin, and we designed it with firm’s natural materials like marble. What was most surprising about working with Porcelanosa Group was the close relationship we had and how easy it was to work with them. We felt very comfortable in all the experiences we had and it also helped us to believe that, with Yonoh, we could develop projects that have an impact.
Q: What opportunities do you think Valencia will have being the World Design Capital 2022?
A: It is a very good opportunity to put Valencia on the world map of design because Valencian design is hidden, underestimated and not visible to the world, and the truth is that we have a network of incredible designers and projects.