In a social context in which homes are becoming increasingly smaller, many designers focus their work on the economy of space. It was along this line of research that Humberto Navarro, graduate of the Master of Product Design Labs, 2013, founded the studio UNAMO, where he has had great success with the design of projects devised initially for the master’s course.
While he was studying for the Masters of Design and Innovation, Humberto generated many avenues of work that he needed to continue exploring, and he thought it best to develop these ideas under a single brand name: UNAMO. Moreover, after finishing his studies in the IED Madrid, this Valencian interior designer was a finalist in the international design competition, #Launchbox and winner of the Young Talent Award of the Valencian Region.
Outstanding among other products, are two, carried out during the master’s course: the sofa 3MOODs, created as a master thesis project, which in turn is a bed, a chaise longue, a desk with a seat and a dining table with seating for eight people. And the DISKOVER: a decorative piece, an ephemeral sculpture and a toy for adults.
On the 21st of September, World Alzheimer’s Day, UNAMO launched the expansion of the DISKOVER, the DISKOVER memory: a psychomotor tool for the rehabilitation of people with Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism and certain mental illnesses.
UNAMO studio design is a company for the design of transformable and versatile pieces adapted to today’s demands, which focuses its design on furniture for the home, with the purpose of creating more liveable and comfortable homes in a simple way. The pieces designed by UNAMO are multifunctional and easy to transform also, designed to help the general public in their everyday life.
We spoke with its creator to find out how it works and what prompted him to design it, and also to ask him about his venture and future projects.
After finishing the Master of Product Design Labs you founded UNAMO. Why did you decide to set up your own studio? How was UNAMO created?
The truth is that the year I spent in the IED Madrid was very intense and productive. It generated many avenues of work that needed further exploration, so I thought the best thing to do was to develop all these ideas within one brand.
In fact, UNAMO arose almost 30 years ago, but it slept for some time, awakening only rarely. Now, it is completely awake and eager to continue growing.
Your projects are focused on the search for real solutions for different people. What is the studio’s primary objective with this type of design? How do you tackle projects?
As a designer and as a person, I always try to find something that people want to change in their lives and I help them to do it. DESIGN cures all ills.
On the 21st of September, World Alzheimer’s Day, you launched your last product: DISKOVER memory. What does it consist of, and how did the idea come about?
DISKOVER was one of my IED Master projects, specifically the result of a workshop in toys for children.
It was a sort of sculpture made up of coloured discs that could be opened or closed creating an infinity of shapes. During the week that the workshop lasted I made a prototype on a scale of 1:1, which was a success. The piece invited you to interact with it: it caught your attention instantly.
This made me rethink many important things until I finally saw that it could be much more useful and also realised that we shouldn’t put barriers on design. That was how we discovered that DISKOVER was a tool that could help people with problems like Alzheimer’s, dementias, autism, etc.
We set to work at UNAMO, beginning with field work and research. It was a very intense experience but very gratifying because we were working with elderly people in nursing homes and day-care centres, collecting all their impressions and, above all, looking at which elements attracted most attention. Of course, we also had the help and advice of professionals in the sector, carers, auxiliaries, geriatricians, neuropsychologists and physiotherapists.
We compressed all this research work in a report entitled: DISKOVER a tool to remember. Thanks to this research we made very important modifications in the final product.
How does this new tool help people who are ill with Alzheimer’s?
DISKOVER memory is an object measuring a little more than 27 centimetres in diameter and 20 cm high, which is made up of 33 moving discs in different textures and colours, some of which also have numbers and letters. It is accompanied by game category cards (motor skills - creativity - reasoning – memory and attention).
Some of its benefits are as follows: it improves mobility of the joints of the hands, helps to maintain muscle strength, improves coordination and memory, refreshes and activates the mind, improves attention span, slows organ degeneration and strengthens ties between people.
What other projects are you working on?
Right now we are very focused on the promotion of the showroom. In UNAMO we believe that design should be understood as a complete experience, and for this reason our doors are always open to any type of initiative that promotes culture, art, architecture, crafts and of course DESIGN.
What would you highlight in the Master of Product Design Labs? How did your perception of design change after your experience in the Master?
I would specially emphasize the theme workshops, given by designers from all over the world and with very different profiles.
Without doubt that it was extremely instructive to learn about the work methodologies of each of them. This helped me to generate my own work methodology as a designer.
My perception of design was not much altered; l just added some very important concepts like problem statement and rapid prototyping.
Photographies: Marta Belmonte