Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Head designer at ATRA
Hometown: Falsterbo, Sweden
Studio location: Mexico City
Describe what you make: I’m the creative lead at ATRA, a furniture company focused on creating quality-driven pieces. Over the years, we’ve ventured into processes such as stoneworking, metallurgy, foundry, CNC production, upholstery, and woodworking. This has opened the doors for collaboration with galleries and artists worldwide to grow our collection while creating new manufacturing techniques with established and upcoming talent. ATRA’s design and architecture studio shares space with our factory, which helps us develop pieces alongside craftsmen and artisans.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: Perhaps the Hejal ( היכל) and Midrash of the Birkat Itzjak Synagogue in Mexico City, commissioned by Cherem Arquitectos. We needed to create something aesthetically pleasing in a short time frame. Conceptually, the Hejal is a 3D representation of the Torah tying in the meanings of the Hebrew alphabet from a Kabbalistic perspective.
Describe the problem your work solves: As designers, our day-to-day mentality is problem-solving. Bringing in an idea from the ether into the matter is a constant puzzle. Our work is a problem-solving think tank that goes from prime matter into finished product while trying to push the limitations of materials. Having the production facility in Mexico City lets us collaborate with artisans from many different walks of life who carry knowledge passed down from generations. We channel this heritage into a more structured process and refine it into a quality standard that appeals to our following.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: Our flagship store in Mexico City, which opens in September. We’re combining our design gallery with an exciting restaurant to create a sensorial experience that tells our story in a subtle yet intuitive manner. It will also showcase new design blood in the company with collaborations that explore an array of multidisciplinary design processes. The works range from Nepalese weaving to a volcanic stone furniture collection produced in Puebla.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Our main essentials are music, walls to sketch on, books, plants, and an organized space with minimal clutter. I’ve also become used to having access to all the workshops within the studio—prototyping with your hands or trying a new idea in the carpentry has become essential in our work. My home studio, which has objects of desire such as art and books, is more hedonistic.
What you do when you’re not working: Designers are always working to some degree. Walking in the park can become an enormous source of inspiration—some of my best work has been sparked by observing my surroundings. In my free time, I like to listen to music and read books at home. But I also enjoy going hiking with my girlfriend and flying away for the weekend to surf. Since setting up our San Francisco gallery, California has become a more frequent destination.
Sources of creative envy: Admiration, not envy! It’s difficult to pin down exactly who and when, but I admire how the Bauhaus started with pioneers dedicated to rethinking tomorrow’s design language. I also admire today’s creatives who have made architecture such an important dialogue: Bjarke Ingels, Carlo Scarpa, Hans Wegner, Alvar Aalto, and Richard Serra.
The distraction you want to eliminate: Unnecessary phone usage.
Concrete or marble? Marble
High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse
Remember or forget? Remember
Aliens or ghosts? Aliens
Dark or light? One can’t exist without the other