By Marta Riezu
The designer comes first. That is the motto of De La Espada, a furniture design company established in London with Portuguese Luis De Oliveira at the head.
Feverish defenders of modern artesanship, of storytelling, of a devotion to detail, and of a direct dialogue with the designer. Fetishists of wood and well equipped with a list of designers that are in tip top shape: Autoban, Studioilse, Mathew Hilton, and Neri & Hu. In 2011 De La Espada announced the beginning of a collaboration with Danish Studio Søren Rose, which continues to this day.
Escorted by his three daughters, Frida, Milla, and Silas, Søren Rose himself gives us the grand tour of us his jealousy-inciting TriBeCa apartment. This designer is one of the key names of the Portuguese brand De La Espada.
What do you consider more useful at work, a sense of passion and intensity or objectivity and cool-mindedness?
I like flow. The state of mind when you have a lot going on but still maintain a certain control is where things happen by themselves. New ideas are born, and that’s when I feel most creative and productive. But it’s a thin balance: one can easily topple over the flow threshold into chaos…
Do you ever feel attacked visually by bad design? For instance, when you find an interior, a square, or even a building particularly vulgar.
I’m very influenced by my surroundings, whether it be in the outdoors, by products, or by architecture. In order to come up with any idea or sketch I need a completely empty and tidy desk. This also extends to the digital world. If my computer desktop is full of documents that should be archived, I can’t reach that creative state either. So imagine what an awful hotel or crafted wood chair will do to me…
How important is humour to you?
Danes are notoriously known for our sarcasm and humor, and it’s very high on the agenda at Søren Rose Studio. I recently read that only 20% of people working in the West are happy with what they do for a living, which makes me really sad. I love what I do and appreciate everybody who has supported the Studio since we started it five years ago. When we are helping our clients build their dream homes we are often faced with huge challenges and headaches; it’s here that humor makes the biggest difference and is crucial in overcoming obstacles.
In the design world, companies often release products that are risky to a certain extent -whether logistically or financially speaking. Do you think that some ideas deserve sufficient time in which to evolve into their full potential?
It takes time for consumers to really appreciate good design. People need to see a design more than 20 times on blogs and in magazines before the design truly becomes a part of their mindset and they potentially buy it. Many manufactures are missing the marketing skills, but even more so the sales network. We have many different partners; some manufactures have very few dealers and agents, whereas the Scandinavian company Muuto, for example, has more than 1,200 dealers worldwide. They are therefore very successful in selling our products.
In your opinion, what would the most common mistake made in design be? Some people see design as art, which may be a little over the top in some cases, others see design as purely functional, which may not be giving design enough credit…
I don’t see design as art. It’s about making something a commercial success by solving a problem and adding value to the client’s life. The story is also important. We never design something just to design something. We always use our clients, interesting material, an emotional phenomena to kick in the door of the design process.
What defines your home? What does it look like?
I like stuff, but I’m also a minimalist, so eventually I get tired of having too many things and I start cleaning up my living space. But I also like to upgrade. We all have items which serve us well in our everyday lives. It’s those things which I find most satisfaction in upgrading. I have my own TriBeCa lamps, all my favorite De La Espada pieces – both from our own collection and from their other collaborators. I love Flexform, Cappellini, Established and Sons, and so on.
How does one sharpen/train his criteria?
You have to make mistakes. Every interior designer has tried to buy a rug too small or a sofa that ended up being too big in the room. It’s all about trial and error.
Could you name some objects that you had a ‘love at first sight’ with?
I’m a complete Leica freak! The Lifesteel sofa from Flexform, the Mercedes G-550, Japanese knives, everything from Apple and many other objects.
How’s the Rose Airstream going?
We are trying to complete an 1974 AirStream Trailer renovation by early Spring 2014. There are still both technical and design challenges, but it will truly be a magnificent creature once we are finished.