Today I’m sharing more from the ‘Sunny Design Days’ tour of Spain, organised by the Association of Spanish Design (RED) to give a group of international bloggers the chance to experience the best of Spanish design first-hand. As I mentioned in my previous post, we spent the week visiting all sorts of fascinating studios and brands, and one of my personal highlights was an evening at the Marset showroom in Barcelona.
Marset actually started life in the 1940s as a family-owned metal-casting business, but it has since evolved into an award-winning lighting company with a range of refined yet innovative designs, many of which have become contemporary classics.
The company’s showroom occupies a bright industrial space in the elegant district of Sant Gervasi. Beautifully refurbished by Stefano Colli, it has white walls, clean lines and a clever display system inspired by the stacks of planks found in sawmills; there’s also a leafy courtyard to show off the brand’s outdoor range. I loved having the chance to browse after hours, before sitting down to chat with some of the designers over cocktails and paella. What struck me instantly was their holistic approach, which takes the feelings evoked by light – comfort, warmth, well-being – as a starting point. These feelings are then translated into tangible designs which create certain atmospheres, respond to specific needs and improve the quality of daily life.
To give you an insight into the brand and its work, here’s a round-up of my favourite designs from its collection – some already well-established, others brand-new for 2017…
Inma Bermúdez’s ‘FollowMe’ lamp was first launched in 2014 and quickly became one of Marset’s most recognisable products. Portable and rechargeable, with a curved oak handle and a swinging lampshade made of white polycarbonate, it’s a contemporary twist on the traditional lantern. It can be used indoors and out, and its warm light makes a great substitute for candles and table lamps. The original version has now been joined by the larger ‘FollowMe Plus’, which has a greater light output for bigger spaces.
Created by ceramicist Xavier Mañosa, ‘Pu-erh’ is a new collection of suspension lights designed to highlight the simplicity of the artisanal process. It starts life as a rough sketch with ridges and grooves, hand-drawn by the designer and then applied directly to the ceramic mould to give a texture that echoes pleated silk. The conical shape emits a beautiful light that bounces off the rippled underside of the shade, and it’s available in a range of muted colours (black, white, burgundy and pink) that show off the ceramic surface.
The work of Marset’s Creative Director Joan Gaspar, the ‘Ginger’ series is made from wood, paper and resin, which are pressed together under high pressure to create a near-flat laminate. The result is a sleek and elegant design that casts a soft, indirect light over the space below. The collection has been expanded over the years to encompass a pendant light, a wall light and table and floor lamps, and there are several new additions for 2017: a smaller suspension lamp, a new wall lamp with a movable arm, three different sizes of flush-mounted wall lamps, and a portable table lamp that does away with the need for cables.
‘Jaima’, a brand-new design from Joan Gaspar, was inspired by the language of textiles. It takes its name from the Bedouin tents of North Africa, and its flexible, durable material is designed to move in the breeze. The shade is available in three sizes and four different colours, and can be combined with two versatile stands to create a series of adjustable, rotating floor lamps; the shades can also be hung independently as pendants.
Also by Joan Gaspar, the ‘Soho’ light is a reworking of the lamps traditionally used in markets, taverns and cafeterias. Its rotation-moulded polyethylene shade is available in a range of diameters, and there are floor, wall-mounted and pendant versions. New for 2017 is a 38cm size, which is also available as an outdoor floor lamp; there are also two new colour options, sky blue and sand, which join the original black, grey and translucent white.
First designed by Xavier Mañosa and Mashallah in 2011, and now available with integrated LEDs that prevent glare, the ‘Pleat Box’ series is a digitally created representation of creases in a piece of cloth. The ceramic outer part of the lamp is available in several colours that are produced by recycling different enamels, while the interior comes in white (to enhance luminosity) or 24-carat gold (for a rich, warm glow).
Mathias Hahn’s ‘Scantling’ collection combines wood, metal and geometric shapes to create a graphic yet gently playful look. I love the hint of Scandinavian simplicity in the design, and the fact that the shade can be rotated and respositioned as needed. The name is intriguing, too – ‘Scantling’ is an old unit of measurement used to define the size to which a piece of wood or stone should be cut.
The strikingly simple ‘Funiculí’ floor lamp was first designed in 1979 by Lluís Porqueras, but it remains stylish and popular today (you might have spotted it in my room at Hotel Alexandra Barcelona). The name ‘Funiculí’ comes from the concept of a ‘funicular’ action, and the shade can be easily lowered and raised thanks to a pair of clips. It can also be rotated through 360 degrees, so you can point the beam of light wherever you want.
The design was updated in 2012 with a rubber base that adds stability, but it still retains the essence of the original. It’s also been joined by matching table and wall lamps, all available in black, off-white, red, moss-grey and blue.
The work of Christophe Mathieu and new for 2017, ‘Piola’ represents a spiralling ribbon and is designed to show off shadow as much as light. Twisted around a central metal column are more than 5m of laminated band, which create several different types of light: direct downward light, indirect reflected light, and light that sneaks out between the edges of the spiral to emphasise its shape. It’s available in four colours – soft green, grey, white and pink – with the central structure and spiral always matching to create a cohesive look.
Another new creation from Christophe Mathieu, the ‘Bicoca’ lamp was inspired by the idea of optimism and brightening up life. It’s lightweight and portable, with a shade that can be tilted to direct the light and a powerful magnet in the base that lets you affix it to any metal surface; there’s also an additional accessory which can be used to attach it to a sofa or bedhead. I love the playful shape, which reminds me of a person titling their head upwards towards the sky.
To find out more about Marset and its stockists, click here. I’d also highly recommend watching the company’s beautiful video series, Reflections on Light, which features each of the designers talking about their work and inspirations.
Showroom images by Abi Dare; all other images by Marset
I visited the Marset showroom as part of the sponsored RED ‘Sunny Design Days’ tour, but all words and opinions are my own.