I’m starting the week by sharing another discovery from the recent ‘Sunny Design Days’ tour of Spain, organised by the Spanish Design Association (RED).
For me, one of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Gandia Blasco, a family-run company founded in the small Valencian town of Ontinyent in 1941. Originally a blanket manufacturer, it was reinvented in the 1980s by current president José A. Gandía-Blasco, who launched a new series of rugs under the sub-brand GAN. It expanded again in 2000 when outdoor furniture joined the range, and has since become a market leader in alfresco living and home textiles.
The company now has showrooms around the world, but its HQ – La Casa de Gandia Blasco – is still located in Ontinyent. Once a sprawling industrial building, it’s been given a striking makeover and is now part office, part showroom, part event space and part José’s home, with sleek white walls, floating concrete staircases, mezzanine floors and vast windows that flood the interiors with light.
Our morning started by the pool, where we were treated to a delicious breakfast and given time for a quick dip – very welcome in 43°C heat!
The pool is surrounded by a vast courtyard showcasing Gandia Blasco’s designs, so we then had fun trying them out in person. They’re the kind of pieces I’d love to have in my own garden if I ever get round to finishing it – contemporary and understated, with a playful Mediterranean edge. My favourites were the brand-new ’Blau’ collection, which was designed by architect Fran Silvestre and has beautifully fluid forms, and Canadian designer Nendo’s ‘Aram’ tables and stools, whose woven wire forms take their influence from Indian crafts. My eye was also caught by the ‘Wigwam’ teepee – a contemporary take on indigenous tents, designed to provide a shaded and secluded spot where you can sprawl out and relax.
Afterwards we moved inside to browse GAN’s textiles, many of them created by renowned international designers. Stand-outs for me included Charlotte Lancelot’s ‘SILAÏ’ range, a modern twist on the centuries-old technique of needle-felt embroidery, and Patricia Urquiola’s ‘Mangas’ series, whose chunky knotted texture was inspired by hand-knitted sweaters. We also got to test out (i.e. lounge around on) GAN’s latest collection, ’Garden Layers’. Also by Patricia Urquiola, it encompasses outdoor rugs, mats, roll pillows and cushions in blue-, grey- and red-based colourways, all inspired by traditional Indian and Oriental living spaces. They can be arranged in endless combinations and work just as well in colder climates, where cosy alfresco options are required, as they do under the warm Spanish sun.
The morning ended with a tour of José’s home, a beautifully pared-back space furnished with Gandia Blasco and GAN designs. I loved the double-height lounge with its boxy grey sofas and soaring gallery wall, the minimalist all-white kitchen and bedrooms, and the concrete-clad wine cellar and bathroom. They provided a wonderfully cooling respite from the heatwave outside and made dragging ourselves away from La Casa de Gandia Blasco very hard indeed…
Visit Gandia Blasco’s website to see the full range and find details of stockists around the globe.
Most photography by Abi Dare; images 7-10, 12 and 18 via Gandia Blasco
I visited Gandia Blasco as part of the RED ‘Sunny Design Days’ tour, but as always all words and opinions are my own.