EMOTIONAL LIGHTING | Interview Of Arturo Alvarez
Today, lighting is much more than the “basic function” of providing illumination – it brings together all the components within the architectural space and brings spaces to life, creating different atmospheres that provide unique experiences to the user.
Due to my background in interior design and particularly in hospitality projects, I can instantly recognize good design. When I discovered Arturo Alvarez’s lighting creations I couldn’t resist their beauty, and so, following my desire, I decided to integrate them in my own design projects. I experience Arturo Alvarez‘s lamps as pieces of art, the result of a creative process that explores the surroundings constantly, and turns them into innovative and impressive designs.
- Who is Arturo Alvarez?
I was born in Pontevedra, Spain. I am the creative director of the firm Arturo Alvarez Emotional Lighting. I am a designer, an open-minded person that loves experimenting, playing with materials and shapes. From the beginning, I have developed my own style, with strong personality. I handle shapes, volumes and light sources fluently in a simple and elegant way, mixing them and thus bringing forth a new vision of creative lighting that conceives spaces with surprising scene and light staging.
I continuously explore different lines of work and ways of expression
- What’s the story behind Arturo Alvarez Emotional Lighting? How did everything start?
In the early nineties I got interested in flat glass when I was learning the techniques of stained glass and Tiffany for lamps making. I started creating luminaries, drawing from ancient techniques but incorporating the language of my time, a contemporary one, with Art Deco and Art Nouveu touches. Years later, I connected to the Bauhaus concepts of joining and reviewing shapes, volumes, prospects and plans to careful craftwork.
There are three distinct periods throughout my career. In the early years, I explored and worked with nature based figurative concepts. Next, I progressed towards abstraction, exploring simple geometric shapes while keeping references to nature. For example, I worked with the female body as a reference, a recurring theme that I kept on researching throughout the year. Currently I am developing new forms of expression with light, like its guiding thread, or the human being and its relationship to what surrounds it as the main subject with its lights and its shadows, the encounters and the missed encounters, the issues of concern… and the explorations deepens through the use of different techniques. Moreover, after years of experience and success I started experimenting with different materials, which brought me to accomplish other volumes and greater creative freedom.
- What’s the main source of inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration comes from different sources of my life experience, my childhood, my close relationship with nature and with animals as a result of living in a rural environment, my trips, people I rendezvous with, art, architecture… The natural environment where our factory is based, near Santiago de Compostela, in northwest Spain, is a constant source of inspiration that gets reflected in the shapes, textures and materials of our lamps. Growing up in this environment has revealed to us the secrets of handicraft, while nature has brought us inspiration. The trees, flowers and animals are transformed into textures, volumes and materials, which are the basis of our lamps. For me, it has always been like this. As a child I used to observe the landscape and play around with the objects, and to this day both my home and studio are full of branches, seeds, leaves and stones. It is here, within this play of experimentation and decontextualization of everyday natural elements, where light is generated.
- How would you define your designs?
Design serves to accomplish the functional end of supporting and making people’s lives easier and more comfortable. My designs are not based on trends; they are rather timeless, elegant and simple, while still beautiful, without forgetting their main function, which is to provide light. I continuously explore different lines of work and ways of expression. Curiosity is the virtue that guides my design process, through exploration, by taking everyday materials out of their natural context; I get to discover new and surprising uses.
- What are yours and your firm core values ?
Honesty and respect for the natural environment are my values as a person and as a designer; those values are naturally manifested in my company’s philosophy. All of our production is handmade, a way of working that is part of our brand’s core values and that makes our lamps truly unique, made with techniques that are often inspired by the traditional arts & crafts of our area. Human well-being through the hedonistic enjoyment of the object is the concept that lies behind our work, and it is achieved through quality finishes, a thorough care of details and a commitment to offering lamps with great personality.
- What are the materials and finishes you create with?
In the last ten years I have been conducting an experimental and comprehensive research work set to develop my own materials, something that has given me more creative freedom and allowed for more expressiveness. I pulled materials away from their common uses, mixing them and transforming them into something new and unique. I have created and patented Simetech®, a translucent material that can be molded to obtain different textures. In addition, I continue my lines of work with Japanese string and steel wire.
- What are the environments and users you are focusing on?
Commercial projects such as hotels, restaurants and offices are more and more becoming our main focus. Our clients are very picky, they appreciate good design and quality, and the demand for the use of energy saving solutions are increasing tremendously in our sector.
- How can you describe the design industry today and it’s future?
Industrial design in general was really affected by the crisis, especially in Spain. Consequently, design proposals became more conservative, moving towards safe approaches and further from boldness. The good part of it is that shallowness and waste are now eliminated. I see the future as continuous bet in favor of energy saving solutions, and materials that recycled and more environmentally respectful. The habits of users, in relationship to new technologies, are more present and incorporated into decorative lighting today. In years to come, we plan to continue with our research and material development work, always bearing in mind our focus on introducing technologies that contribute to energy saving and a sustainable production.
- I know you have been part of many special events. Any in particular to highlight?
We have been part of many national and international events. Our lamps were chosen by Nostromo Pictures to light up a scene at The Gunman, a thriller starred by Sean Penn, Idris Elba and Javier Bardem. The film is a UK-Spain-France-USA co-production directed by Pierre Morel and was released in May of 2015. Right now, what’s really exciting for us is a recent collective art exhibit in Ferrol, at Center Torrente Ballester, with a focus on Arts, Craft, Design and Sustainability in Galicia for the 21st Century. Such an important recognition of my designs makes us very proud.
- What’s in your opinion the relationship between the space and illumination?
The space and it’s lighting have to speak the same language, creating a harmonic relationship in which both, lighting and space, influence and complement each other in an elegant way.
- Who is Patricia and what’s her input in your life?
Patricia is my wife; we both founded and managed the company together for twenty years. She was the first one who believed in and supported me.
- .How you balance arts, business and family?
Family is the most important; it’s what inspires me to keep going forward. Continuing to create lighting and other more artistic and personal projects is how I see myself in the future.
- What’s your future vision of being present internationally and in the US?
I am currently an established and recognized creator, both inside and outside of Spain, because of my conceptual contributions to the world of lighting design. The recognition of my work by North American audience has been astonishing. I feel very well received, the designs are a very good fit in diverse niches. Some of our designs have participated in gallery and museum exhibitions in London, New York and Tokyo. And we have received the acknowledgement of critics through recognitions like the Good Design award, for Gea and Fluo, or the Red Dot for our Guau, which I greatly appreciate. The emotions that our lamps shine are born in the little green corner where we are located in Spain. It all comes from the light traveling through the valley, filtering through the leaves of the trees, mirroring on the water of the river. Now the shadow, then the brightness… in a game of light that streams through the window of our atelier, and then travels the world transformed into luminaries that keep inside a piece of our small universe. For this reason, they are unique; for this reason, they are our lamps.
- What’s your definition of success?
For me the ultimate success is to go to sleep at night knowing that I have been honest with myself and others, giving the best of me day by day.
- Any suggestion to our audience to experience that success?
Work with delusion, believing in what you do and what you can do, always from a child’s eyes perspective.