Sense of nature and design

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Find  inspiration in the chaos of nature, see how everyday objects can make our lives easier, and in the break play ping pong with the colleagues from work. Seems like a dream job, right? Spanish designer and the owner of the design studio “Leblume” Damian Lopez has been living and creating this dream for a long time, and as he mentions – it interests him every single day. Damian explained to us how did he found his way to the design world, what is behind the title and what keeps him creating in Spain.

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How would you present yourself to the audience?

Hi, my name is Damian Lopez, I’m a designer in Leblume, a studio based in Málaga, in the Sun Coast (probably one of the best weather in Spain) and I’m a sunlight, design and good meal lover.

How long have you worked in the product design environment? How did you decide to work as a designer?

When I was finishing my career I was very impatient to start working. I like action, making things real and feeling useful, so I was looking forward to apply all of my knowledge to the market as soon as possible. I finished my studies in 2009 and I started working in a very important design studio in Valencia. So it’s going to be 7 years right now. My grandfather was a carpenter and although my parents are  both physics teachers, my father worked in the carpenter’s workshop when he was young, so he has a good command of this trade. I could say he is my personal master carpenter. I’ve always been interested in making things with wood and other materials in the workshop since I was a child. After the high school, I really didn’t know what to study. I was keen on something artistic but I have a kind of family pressure (my brother studied physics too) to study something related with science. So, without much idea, I decided to study Industrial Design Engineering, it seemed to be a mix of science and art. Then I discovered that it was exactly what I wanted.

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What is behind the “LEBLUME” name?

Leblume came out because I needed to introduce me to the audience, and as I had intended for the studio to grow, I didn’t want to have a personal trademark like my name. About the meaning, I love the Bauhaus movement and the German design of Dieter Rams, Marcel Breuer or Mies van der Rohe, but I’m also keen on the Cradle to Cradle philosophy, sustainable design and respect to the environment. So I looked for some concepts in these areas. Blume means flower in German, understanding the flower as a nature product, it’s perfect: is attractive, beautiful and amazingly functional. It works and it’s 100% ecological. Unfortunately, there is a florist’s chain in Germany called Blume and it makes complex to get a good search engine optimization, so I decided to put the article ‘Le’. I like how it sounds and provides its personality.

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What are the inspirations for your design?

Every project is different, but I use to get inspiration in nature, daily objects, talks and books, life experiences and sometimes even in reflections and absurd questions. Anyway, one of the most important things for me is the process and enjoying the work progress. Definitely, it makes the difference.

You are currently working in Spain, and working on various projects. Could you describe one of them to us?

One of the last projects we’ve done is Lafresca chair. It’s a redesign of a traditional bulrush chair. We have made a new version, improving ergonomics, reducing structural elements, and adapting it to the new market needs. I was honored with a grant from the government to develop it in 2015. With this help, we could make a prototype and launched it to the audience and press. It worked really nice and now there is an important company interested in producing it. So we are redesigning some details to adapt it to the industrial process of the company. I hope to see it in the company’s catalogue soon!

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How does a morning of a designer look like? How do you start your day?

I am used to waking up at 7 a.m. and going to the gym. I arrive at the studio at 9 a.m., have breakfast while I check the email and organize my day. I work, I brunch at noon, then I continue working until 3 p.m., I go home to have lunch and then I come back to the studio and I continue working until 7 – 8 p.m., some days even later. It depends if I have a delivery date. On Fridays, we use to have lunch at the office and play ping-pong in the meeting room. There is a competitive ranking…

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You are working in three spheres: interior, graphic and product design. Which one is your favorite and why?

I really enjoy these 3 areas. Normally every project requires more than one discipline. For me, although I am an industrial designer, is very important to have skills in typography, graphic design, illustration…. because it makes projects richer. Anyway, I have to say product design is my favorite discipline. I wonder how objects get along with us and can make our lives better. It’s amazing to anticipate how people are going to use what you are designing and how it’s going to work. In the same way, I love the work at the workshop, making mock ups, analyzing the prototypes…

Your design pieces are colorful, modern, and with character. What style do you prefer while creating a project?

Hum…I like the warmth of Scandinavian design and the simplicity of Japan design, but also the character and tradition of Mediterranean furniture and spaces. I’m very interested in craftsmanship and industrial process, and how to make timelessness objects, like Eames designs and so many others. So, I think I don’t have a favorite style, it depends on the project and what it needs.

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Your furniture objects have a sense of nature. Do you seek for inspiration in the nature side or not?

Yes, I try as often as I can. I wonder how perfect is nature. It seems to be in the chaos but everything is mathematically created. The last experiment we made in collaboration with some friends was about self-organization. Nature is quite well self-organized, cells, ants or starlings are some of many examples. We studied how it works and how we can use it for our companies and daily life, but finally, it was impossible to organize us… (laughs).

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Spain for most of us looks like a country full of sun, colors and smiles. Do you intend to work and live in this country or do you want to try your chances in other counties?

Well, I’m fine in Spain. I have my friends, my family and my home here. On the other hand, weather, food, people, lifestyle… are great and they are what I am used to. Anyway, I love travelling and discover different cultures. There are so many ways to live and I would like to try out some of them.   Between my objectives, I would like to live in Sweden, Japan, India or Chile for a while. But honestly, it’s difficult to leave all what I’ve built here and start again. I am looking for the way! I admire how chefs travel around the world while they work in different restaurants, it’s like a kind of exchange which allow them to know new techniques, different recipes and foods… It would be nice that design would work in a similar way. I bet a Swedish designer would love to work in Málaga for a while!

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What is your motto?

I have two phrases very present:

“When you can resolve a problem, it’s not a problem.

When you cannot resolve a problem, it’s not a problem.” (A. Revolini)

And, “Think now, design later”

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