10 Questions With… Adrian Cruz

Born in Mexico, architect Adrian Cruz studied in Italy before settling down in Brussels, where he lives and works. Fascinated by the illusion light creates as it moves through resin, one of his favorite materials, the designer maintains a strong connection to his native country where he manufactures all his pieces—also made in onyx—in collaboration with master artisans. Colorful and geometric, each one of Cruz’s lighting designs is unique. Made of a sphere in crystal resin and a pedestal in Mexican onyx, Bulbe is the smallest yet most fundamental piece of the collection. Rotonda was inspired by the floor plans of Renaissance villas; Tona represents the female body; and Tallo evokes a flower’s thallus. Combining influences from Mexico and Europe, Cruz also developed a luxury handbag and accessories collection featuring architectural patterns. The designer shares with Interior Design his design influences, stories about his grandfather, and details about his upcoming project.

Interior Design: Why did you decide to become a designer? 

Adrian Cruz: While working as an architect, I felt the need to express myself through objects that could reflect my vision of our world. These objects needed to be made of materials with a deep meaning to me such as the resin and onyx, which represent my roots.

ID: How has your late grandfather’s work become an inspiration for you?

AC: My grandfather, Chema, was a pioneer in the use of resins in the 40s and he began creating commercial objects such as pharmaceutical utensils or toys. As he had an extremely creative mind, he developed a sophisticated technique to encapsulate flowers and insects inside a completely translucent resin during his free time. My uncles and cousins continued with this tradition and now they fabricate my collections. My grandfather died before I was born, but my mother says we are very similar in many aspects. I feel a connection with him through the objects he left and now through the ones I am creating. I have the impression that we understand and discover each other more and more, even if we never met.

The Rotonda light. Photography by Dan Rocha.

ID: Are you inspired by the Mexican culture and why?

AC: I left Mexico when I was 17 to study architecture in Florence and I lived there for 10 years before moving to Belgium. My adulthood began in Italy where I learned the differences and similarities between two cultures. My inspirations are a combination of Renaissance and modern European architecture with Mexican Pre-Hispanic culture. Mexico City is a mix of colonial and 20th-century architecture, in particular some neighborhoods such as La Condesa or Colonia Roma where the contrast between Colonial and European rationalism creates an eclectic universe. For me, the most fascinating aspects about this architecture are the colors of the buildings. In Europe, the Bauhaus architecture is completely minimalist in its shapes and hues, while in Mexico the colors we use in folklore bring buildings to life. I want to reflect this universe with my work, combining vivid colors with simple volumes. 

The Tallo light. Photography by Dan Rocha.

ID: You live between Belgium and Mexico. Why and how do you split your time between these countries? 

AC: I find Brussels an inspiring city full of contrasts. It is the capital of Europe in every cultural aspect and it’s easy to travel anywhere in the world from there. I travel quite often to Mexico to follow the production and visit my family. My company is based in Belgium where I have my office, while the production is made in Mexico between Mexico City and Guadalajara. The lighting pieces in resin and in onyx are shipped to Belgium where we do the technical assemblage.

The Bulbe light. Photography by Dan Rocha.

ID: What is your first memory of design?

AC: The Satellite Towers, Torres de Satélite, a group of sculptures located in a district outside of Mexico City designed by architect Luis Barragán, painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira, and sculptor Mathias Goeritz. Every Sunday, since I was a child, on the way to visit my grandmother with my parents we could see these monumental volumes with no specific function—colorful with the typical Mexican palette.

ID: Can you name people in the industry who inspire you?

AC: Contemporary architects and interior designers inspire me the most. I admire the work of Mexican architect Frida Escobedo and her ability to create sophisticated spaces using simple materials, as well as the sumptuous interiors designed by Humbert & Poyet. I am also particularly attracted to the utopian digital interiors created by Visual Citizens as they challenge your mind; I like to imagine creating a piece of design that would fit the universe they create.

A close-up of the Tona light. Photography by Dan Rocha.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

AC: I live in a building from the 30s, in the center of Brussels. After some renovation work, the result is eclectic. The day area is bright, full of plants, vintage furniture, and baroque to mid-century pieces collected during my travels, while the night area is darker and minimal.

ID: What are you reading? 

AC: I’ve become a fan of Italian writer Elena Ferrante with her book “L’Amica Geniale”—[in English, “My Brilliant Friend”]. I am now reading the third volume of this novel. Although the story happens during the post-war period, it brings me back to my life in Italy. Ferrante perfectly describes the Italian fatalistic atmosphere with a passionate and unique style.

The Rotonda light. Photography by Dan Rocha.

ID: Can you describe the overall design concept and goal for your purse collection, Passerin?

AC: Together with two friends from the university, we developed an accessory brand. The collection is inspired by architectural details to create patterns printed on Italian calf leather, using a sophisticated digital technique. In addition to our prints, we have made collaborations with stores for limited editions or museums such as the Bauhaus Center in Tel Aviv.

ID: What are your upcoming projects?

AC: I am working on a line of decorative objects inspired by Pre-Hispanic forms, experimenting with new resin textures and colors that will contrast with natural stones.

Cruz founded the Passerin accessory brand with two university friends. Photography by Adrian Cruz.
The accessories collection is inspired by architectural details. Photography by Adrian Cruz.

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