How do you approach your design practice?
Our starting point is always communication. Design for us is a dialogue, not self-fulfillment. Throughout the design process, we hope to instill the values we believe in: harmony and balance. Objects we design then become something more than a mere manifestation of a style; they are the synthesis of many layers of meaning into a single form.
What was your process of designing the Saya chair?
With Saya, we wanted to design a chair for Arper with the home as inspiration. Home for us evokes feelings of warmth and life. Wood seemed to us the material choice best suited to express this quality. We then looked to plywood for its constructive synthesis: it allows for a surface that is continuous, fluid and lightweight.
To articulate the form, we developed an expressive, graphic back. Its shape is inviting; it almost suggests a hug. In creating the form, we cut out small paper models in miniature and played with them, bending the paper in different ways to understand its possibilities. Its shape took on the character and form of a little animal: four legs and arching neck.
We felt que tiene alma (it had soul), a Spanish way to say it has something that is touching, emotive — like a graceful person or living creature. This was a quality we wanted to maintain. We thought it should feel lightweight and defined, but also sensual and soft — something someone would like to touch, like a pebble with the edges softened by the sea. With this in mind, we also chose to round the edges of the planes.
When the shell was complete, we began wondering which colors could combine to amplify the possibilities of wood without creating a contrast. We selected the finishing in wood (natural and teak colors), white, black, ochre and three different shades of red.
For us, red communicates both life and also a sign, connecting the color to the material.
We imagine that chairs in both veneers and colors can be used alone, or together.
One is a singular piece; several together create a rhythmic and lively pattern.
How does the Saya chair fit into the Arper family?
We see our chair as a kind of manifesto, an ode to wood. Made from organic and natural materials, it is evocative and feels alive. Like all Arper products, it is comfortable and useful in diverse environments, but we hope the Saya chair will always be reminiscent of the warmth of home.
How do you define good design?
For us, the essence of the design is a harmony between its parts. It is the relationship between form, material, color, functionality and their overall relationship to a space, a place, an environment, a culture. A design system should always be symbiotic — sympathetic to an environment or use it may be difficult or impossible to fully imagine. This is an essential idea for Arper: each collection is a system designed for constant growth and evolution.
Good design makes us fall in love, but often for different reasons. Is it perfect balance, icon status, strength, durability, synthesis, sensuality or ingeniousness? An object is well designed when its form seems inevitable. It could not have possibly been resolved in another way. Good design is timeless. Think of a simple, carved bowl from any part of the world: its form mirroring that of two hands held together to form a cup for drinking.
Is there anything more universal than that?
Photo credits: Marco Covi