“Sometimes you need to look for courage, but we’ve always found it,” reveals Alberto Sánchez. The creative minds behind Valencia-based MUT Design, Sánchez and co-founder Eduardo Villalón will next week unveil their version of Das Haus—the residential living installation addressing the future of the modern home presented each year at home furnishings trade show IMM Cologne. Held at Cologne’s Koelnmesse exhibition center, IMM runs January 13-19.
Entitled “A La Fresca,” MUT’s concept pavilion is influenced by the Mediterranean lifestyle, with a focus on the merger of outdoor and indoor design. Both new and existing work will be presented, from a high-profile list of manufacturers including Ex.t, Expormim, Gandia Blasco brands GAN and Diablo, LZF Lamps, Preciosa Lighting, Pulpo, and Sancal, among others.
Interior Design sat down with the duo to hear more about the overall design goal of Das Haus, the prototypes set to be unveiled, and why a shopping list would not include plaids or furry objects for projects in Spain.
Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Das Haus 2020?
Alberto Sánchez: The architecture, furnishings, and decor objects all have something in common: organic forms with a simple curve as a starting point. Through these forms we have tried to evoke the Mediterranean, with a reinterpretation of the Mediterranean house and the Mediterranean lifestyle and a super contemporary take on elements such as porches and patios. Water—which we imitate with metal wrapping around the house—is a big topic in our Das Haus. Standing in the pavilion, it feels like you are in the middle of an outdoor space.
ID: What furnishings will it include?
Eduardo Villalón: We’ve developed 10 new prototypes with 10 different clients—old and new—and we will also feature a few earlier products. Many of the products are really outdoor-focused, or typical to things you can imagine outside. Material-wise one that will standout will be a glass table series, as a table made entirely of glass is not so typical. This series is a new collaboration, with German manufacturer Pulpo. The tables are offered in three different sizes and three different colors and, similar to the metal, represent water.
Another new collaboration is with rug company GAN. While the collection is still conceptual, it includes a polyester exterior carpet and a hammock. Part of the hammock’s design is the flooring which goes underneath—so the piece fills out open spaces.
ID: Could you describe one or two earlier products to be featured in Das Haus?
AS: The Beetle acoustical panel for Sancal has modularity that the user can adapt to his or her style. It’s a very playful but at the same time a very functional and serious product.
Another is the Nautica swing chair for Expormim, which really was the kick-off project of our studio. We work a lot with rounded shapes—rounded geometry that you see in this chair. These smooth curves are something that returns often to our designs.
ID: What’s upcoming for you?
EV: Since we haven't worked on anything else but Das Haus for the past six months, what’s upcoming is bringing the Das Haus prototypes to market.
ID: How do you see the residential market changing in the next decade or two?
AS: Environmental awareness will increase. Consumers are growing more conscious of the effects of climate change and this is really influencing their lifestyle. Climate change is also influencing our decisions. In some parts of Spain, when we are purchasing furniture, it now makes less sense to buy plaids or furry objects because the average temperature is rising. So, we look for lighter tissues to upholster our chairs and sofas and find it more useful to have air-con units than central heaters. When we build, more and more we take into account orientation on the site—in order to protect a house from too much sun. Insulation and shade are now necessary and, especially in the city, plants are needed to clean the air and provide a sense of freshness.
ID: How do you think your childhood or formative years influenced your design thinking?
AS: I have an innate passion for pencils and white sheets of paper and as a child would spend hours sketching all sorts of things. I have also always found it very interesting to see how people furnish their homes or living spaces. While I studied industrial design, which provided me a solid base of the general and technical knowledge, the more sensitive and intuitive part of design I gleaned later on by myself. Really, I consider myself a self-taught person. It helps that I am stubborn and a hard worker. I do not give up easily.
EV: I studied public relations. In the general sense PR is not that creative, but it provided me with a good intuition for strategy and a view for the market and commercial questions. Over the years I developed a curiosity and sensibility for the world of design. In my current position at the studio, I'm combining these two things.
ID: In what kind of home do you live?
AS: We live downtown in Barrio del Carmen, in the historic center of Valencia in a very nice typical Valencian flat, with a lot of light surrounded by a labyrinth of small streets and historical buildings. For their industrial design, I am head over heels for my Gianfranco Piretti chairs. I bought them at a vintage shop in Portugal—and they also serve as a reminder of that trip.
ID: What furnishing object in your home has particular value to you, Eduardo?
EV: I collect porcelain and love objects such as flower pots and other items of pottery. In the past in Valencia there was a lot of porcelain production around, and you can find very nice flower pots and figurines in second-hand stores and at flea markets.
ID: Who in the industry do you particularly admire?
AS: I’m a huge fan of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, for their trajectory and the fineness of their designs.
EV: Alvar Aalto. He is a reference, a master—with proposals still in force. He democratized architecture and made it more human.
ID: Have a secret you can share?
AS: It might not really be a secret anymore, but one of our favorite restaurants in the world is Le Grand Café de la Poste in Marrakesh. It’s a bit old fashioned yet the decor, atmosphere, and background make it entirely unique. It was renovated by Studio KO, the design studio that also made the Yves Saint Laurent museum in Marrakech and it looks right out of a movie.
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