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Experimental product design. We talk with Lucas Muñoz Muñoz, Tutor of the Master of Product Design Labs

Interview with the independent designer, artist and craftsman Lucas Muñoz about his career, vision of design and participation in the Masters of Design and Innovation

You are bound to remember those chandeliers made with BIC pens, a work by eStudio enPieza! (2006). Volivik was one of Lucas Muñoz’s first projects, together with David Tamame, and the artist’s first steps in the world of experimental design.

The Spanish creator, based in Eindhoven (Holland), has not stopped experimenting and travelling around the world through design. At the heart of his works lie the concept behind each process and the different developments and media in each project.

From skateboards produced with stone to lamps created from building materials to a bamboo structure for improving the quality of the environment in New Delhi –Delhi Lung–; there is no boundary between art and design for Lucas, the key is finding the balance: functionality.

One of his latest product design works was OFIS (Objects for Interstitial Space), an exploration of the structural potential of different industrial components – such as ventilation pipes and materials deemed to be “scrap” – to create a series of household objects and light fixtures.

 

OFIS, Lucas Muñoz

Lucas undoubtedly conceives design as a tool for communication and material experimentation in close relation with the sensory (material) and conceptual (critical and narrative capacity) connection with the environment. Next, we talk with him about his vision of design, his work and his experience in the Masters of Design and Innovation.

 

 

Artist, independent designer and craftsman, who is Lucas Muñoz?
Basically, a combination of these three things within a framework of a very personal development: workshop experimentation, research trips that translate into self-produced projects such as documentaries, book publishers, videos, three-dimensional scans of ephemeral pieces around the world, etc.
I try to cause and create a space where I can develop my ideas and research. Classes, collaborative projects and many conversations. Traveller, nomad, craftsman, teacher, publisher, documentary maker, I study the environment of the object with an open and broad approach. Consequently, the materialisation in material or in video, image or sound, is a decision that is set by the project; they are all equally valid tools.

Your work could be categorised as surrealistic, humorous and with a strong critical spirit, how would you define it?
As an attempt to bring my madness into a material reality, which requires a strong dose of reason and logic. Many “and what ifs…” and some “perhaps…” that develop into “well, maybe this way or that way” and end up becoming, through stubbornness and perseverance, a “Look, you too”. In other words, the work is very exploratory and, therefore, seeks out possible ideas. These ideas are not always solutions to problems but are often approaches to stereotypes and archetypes in a less strict and structured manner than is normally required by product design.

Any premonition about the future of the product designer?
I believe that change is being sought in Europe, and this can be noted in the signs coming from the continent’s leading design schools. For a couple of decades now, the industry has tended to disappear in our territory and is now, little by little, coming back in the form of automation systems and the programming of mechanics. This shapes the outline of a future for our profession in which the basic parameters are almost completely redefined. The product designer’s future lies in how and how much we are able to anticipate these realities and think where we don’t want to go, rather than follow the momentum of the current moment.
There is a very interesting underground development going on at the moment, which can be seen in a rebirth of craftsmanship, a redefinition of heritage and the concept of possession, and this will have an impact on the market and therefore on the product. Being able to connect with that is essential for our profession. However, the most important thing is still for us to include the planet and the welfare of society and the individual in project processes. Bringing objects into the world is too big a responsibility not to think about going beyond the drawing, the shape or the representation.
Design is a bridging profession that links material resources to social realities and we must take responsibility for our proposals with that in mind. Collaboration and permeability with philosophy, sociology, anthropology, biology, politics, etc. are essential. We cannot design from a hole and be blind to the realities to which we provide transformed matter.

You define yourself as a freelance designer. How does your working method extend to your work as a teacher?
As a teacher, I can only contribute my personal and professional experience, but this is still second-hand experience and students need to find their own autonomy and method. Each of them has lived, seen, heard and interacted with so many things that I don’t know and that makes them unique. My job is to make them aware of these things and to use them.

As a tutor on the Master of Product Design Labs, what would you highlight about the Masters of Design and Innovation at IED Madrid?
The transversal processes and the plurality of knowledge to which IED students are exposed creates a very broad awareness in the students of this master’s degree. I interact with them in the first week they arrive and then I don’t see them until nine months later. The human quality and social awareness that is created in these creatives in such a short time is truly amazing.

 

Cover photo: Tubular Chair and Stool (OFIS, 2018)

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