At a time when both designers and consumers are overwhelmed by complicated manufacturing techniques and advanced material technologies, Luis Eslava seeks to champion the straightforward through his Face to Face installations made of humble Velcro.
Since its invention in the early 1940s by Swiss inventor George de Mestral, Velcro has been used for a variety of purposes but is usually hidden from view. Face to Face elevates Velcro’s unique flexibility, transparency and tactility to create beautifully sculptural objects – infinitely reconfigurable light shades and viral 3D drawings that spread and wrap over any given surface.
Born in Valencia, Spain in 1976, Eslava studied product and graphic design at ESDI Ceu San Pablo Valencia before completing a Master’s degree in Design Products at London’s Royal College of Art. Developing furniture, graphic multimedia and interior design from his studios in London and Valencia, Eslava has worked for several companies including Dos y Dos studio, XiuXiu design group, Qarcomunicacion multimedia studio, Camper footwear and Okusa Ltd, Japan. He regularly exhibits his work throughout Europe and Asia.
Q. When did you first become aware of – and interested in – design?
A. It wasn’t until the end of my first year of university, when I did my first three dimensional object that I became aware of design. The object was a 3D puzzle made of geometrical cardboard figures, that when placed together would fit into a rectangular box.
Q. Why did you decide to study design?
A. It was like lots of things in life, by chance. Design was the only discipline among the never-ending list of subjects that I didn’t dislike when I chose my university studies.
Q. How has your design education influenced your subsequent work as a designer?
A. Having a background in different fields, like graphic, web and product design, I can mix and overlap disciplines. You can see the influence in all of my final products.
Q. What was the influence of your Spanish origins on your work?
A. Valencia it an eclectic city, full of old fashion ornaments all around the city mixed with Calatrava’s futuristic architecture. You can see this diversity reflected in the local life style. My influence comes from this diversity, plus an ironic sense of humour.
Q. What impact did moving to London have on your work?
A. The variety and diversity of styles is so big and wide in London that you have to find your own identity and define yourself.
Q. Which of your early projects was most important in defining your approach to your work?
A. You learn from the experience. I think what I have learnt is to filter the ideas I find interesting from the ones that are not. One of the projects I consider important in defining my approach to my work was the project My Mess – celebrating mess as an acceptable part of human behaviour. I am a lazy person – the house where I live is a mess: piles of clothes, CDs, and books…these piles of objects become the landscape of my life. The project encourages people to be proud of their mess. Helping them discover beauty in their chaos. One of the My Mess objects is a clothes hanger that works as a space divider, light diffuser and curtain. The user will customise it with their clothes and it will grow with every day use. The project represents my way of working, trying to find new typologies of objects, while keeping in mind the manufacturing process.
Q. How have your objectives evolved since leaving the Royal College of Art?
A. Before I joined the RCA I used to work on lots of projects at the same time, and found that I lost interest quickly. After the RCA I learnt how to be more patient – how to develop the projects, materials, proportions and applications for each one.
Q. How did the USB Port ‘Hail Mother Mary, Save My Data’ project develop?
A .It was a four-day project I did while at the RCA. The project was called Lucky Charm, and my idea started as just a graphic image of the Virgin Mary plus a USB port. I developed it further by creating the Virgin of Data, using pixilation of the surface and a blinking LED heart. It's now in production as a product.
Q. Who or what inspires your work?
A. I get inspiration from visual observation, daily life objects and actions. Travelling and being in different places, looking at how different people behave, how they use daily life objects, the way these objects can change from their use. In the same way I try to insolate objects and materials from their original environments to give them a different use.
Q. How important is the story behind your work?
A. The story is really important. The final object/product is the 'end' or 'to be continued' of the story. The 'story' itself is the design process behind the object – from the inspirations, definitions and descriptions… to the final result.
Q. Where do you see your work going now?
A. I want to maintain the narrative development of projects but try to approach companies to add a commercial solution to all of my projects.
Q. If you could take credit for the design of one everyday object from the past (eg paperclip, Bic biro, etc.) – which would it be?
A. Brooms are one of the most common daily life objects, such a useful object but it has always been discriminated against by being left in corners and backyards.
1976 Born Valencia, Spain
1999 Completes a degree in Design Products and Graphic Design at ESDI Ceu San Pablo, Valencia before joining Dos y Dos studio to develop furniture, graphic and interior designs
2000 Takes first prize in the third DISE?O INTERIOR magazine lighting competition, Spain
2002 Joins Camper Footwear Design Company in Mallorca
2003 Moves to London to study at the Royal College of Art
2005 Sets up his own design studio in London and develops several products for different international companies such as Okusa Ltd, Japan and ABR Produccion, Spain
2006 wins INJUVE Young designer award from the Spanish ministry of Work and Social Issues
2006 Exhibits work at London’s 100% East and Aram Gallery
2007 Face to Face installation at London’s Design Museum
Visit Luis Eslava's website luiseslava.com