Before COVID-19 managed to turn the world upside down, two you Spanish designers turned their house inside out. Rather than erecting boundaries, they’re trying to break them down.
Alberto Sánchez and Eduardo Villalón founded MUT Design 10 years ago in Valencia, Spain, to blend architecture and product design with a tendency to experiment with and redefine everyday objects. As a very young firm they were invited to exhibit in the Salone Satellite area of the Milan Furniture Fair. Satellite is a section of the fair where all exhibitors are under 35, and no designer is invited more than three times. Established furniture companies often scour Satellite for new talent and ideas.
Being chosen to envision the 2020 Das Haus – where young designers are challenged to challenge traditional ways of living – was an even bigger honor.
“A la fresca” – step out into the fresh air – is the name MUT Design have given to their interpretation of Das Haus. The name references a cultural history of social evenings in the area’s villages, of meeting up in the evening streets and squares after the head of the Spanish day passes.
Designer Alberto Sánchez used tile from Valencia, Spain, on the floor to create a nontraditional, radial pattern. Photos: Kenn Busch
“Our house is inspired by our Arabic heritage,” Sánchez said. “Arabic houses are totally enclosed with a patio in the middle. All rooms face the patio, which is where the family socializes. The open patio area provides natural light and ventilation to the rooms and allows you to enjoy the outdoors in total privacy, because the house is totally closed.
“For Das Haus we changed the position of the rooms. They are all facing the landscape. And the patio is no longer a social place; it’s a place for individual activity, for meditation. So now the rooms are the social areas. The color palette of each room reflects different seasons in year. We have a very long summer, 300 days of sun, lots of water, and only two or three months
“We like to use local materials as much as possible. Valencia is an especially important area for tiles, so we’ve used a very traditional tile on the floor, but in a nontraditional, radial pattern. For us, the patterns created in the space between the tiles is very interesting. And we’ve used another tile that you normally find on the roofs of houses as wall tiles, but we’ve inverted them.”
While breaking the boundaries of the living spaces is a conceptual exercise, erasing the lines between indoor and outdoor furniture is already having real-world impact.
“It’s important to break those boundaries,” Sánchez noted, “especially with furniture. Outdoor furniture used to look cold, very heavy, very industrial. Since 2014 it’s becoming more comfortable, to the point where you see outdoor furniture coming inside, like we began to see in Milan in 2014.”
MUT’s seating solutions for the Das Haus included rattan, or sturdy pieces with indoor/outdoor fabrics as well as glass, metal and stone.
MUT’s seating solutions for the Das Haus were mostly rattan, or sturdy pieces with indoor/outdoor fabrics. Glass, metal and stone are also major players. The team usually releases two to three products a year, but thanks to Das Haus, they’ve released 11 in six months, many of them licensed by companies exhibiting at IMM.
The reason for the growing interest?
“We’re always trying to find the right balance between tradition and contemporary,” Sánchez said. “I think a lot of people are drawn to a fresh look at everyday objects.”
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