Saski chair designed by Jean Louis Iratzoki for ALKI
I feel that designers and makers collaborating on projects can lead to innovative and unique design solutions. Sometimes craftsmen lack the vision of industrial designers, with their eye trained to solve problems in the everyday world it’s easy for the designers to pick-up on objects and scenarios that should be improved upon. On the other hand, designers usually have little knowledge of a material and its constraints, so working in tandem can really take a piece to the next level. We interviewed Japanese designer Oji Masanori late last year and he offered some thoughts on partnerships like this, but I’ve also taken some time out to explore other creatives that are on a similar wavelength.
Jean Louis Iratzoki was one designer that stood out, he tends to work with small furniture producers but also dabbles in other areas of the craft field, such as pottery and metal work. Born in Donibane Lohizune, France he studied interior design and later industrial design in Madrid. His workshop is in the Basque Country, Spain where he specialises in collaborating with these small firms as a product designer. I particularly like his stripped down approach, especially the selection of furniture that he’s designed over the years. It becomes quite apparent that he’s very hands on and works extensively in his workshop, building a variety of scale models and prototypes. This workshop happens to be close to the woods which offers natural material as a resource for his designs.
One project that seems to have really taken bloom is their collaboration with furniture company ALKI. Local to the firm, ALKI has specialised in furniture making since 1982. Jean had the task of making the brand relevant to today’s market, and has over the years designed much of the furniture that the company now makes today. One chair I thought was special is the Saski chair (seen above) that’s a nod to basket making. A minimal design, but I liked the concept as it’s an ode to the craft world and offers something different to your ordinary piece of furniture. I picked out a few photos for you to enjoy, including those of the goods being made, to see more like this head over to the studios website.
LAGA for Goiko, terracotta plate with enamelled upper section
LAGA terracotta plate being made on the wheel at the Goiko workshop
Inside the Goiko pottery studio, terracotta pots waiting to be fired
Kendu for Azcue, panels with aluminium frame.
Emea chairs for ALKI, designed by Jean Louis Iratzoki
Making the Emea chair at the ALKI workshop in Basque Country, Spain
KIMUA range for ALKI. Inspired by the tradition of working with straw
Marking out the material for the Belharra office desk by Treku
ARIN designed for Azcue. Beech wood with fabric made of glass and hemp fibre