The studio for product design, graphic design and art direction founded by Alberto Sánchez and Eduardo Villalón in 2010 is one of the most successful teams in the “new wave” of Spanish design. In their home city of Valencia – one of Spain’s design hotspots, but also a place strengthened by the traditional furniture and ceramics industry that surrounds it – they design furniture, carpets, tiles and lamps for the interiors sector as well as styling hotels and exhibitions. Their international clientele includes Expormim, GAN, Ex.t, Sancal, Preciosa Lighting, Bolia, E interiors, Harmony Inspire, Missana and LZF.
MUT can view their nomination as guests of honour at the “Das Haus 2020” design event by the international Interior Business Event imm cologne as an anniversary gift. In their interpretation for Cologne’s series of visionary living-space installations, they will play with the concept of a dream life lived between the indoors and the outdoors. “This may be the only chance in our lives to see our ideas for home living expressed in their pure form,” enthuses Alberto Sánchez about the project for imm cologne. “After all, it’s a concept, not a real house. Although perhaps it could be, if the forms were to be enclosed in glass, for example. But at present, we’re only interested in possibilities, not reality.” Designs by MUT are characterised by their form: “Our designs usually take pure, smooth circular forms. The architecture of our ‘Das Haus’ project is also inspired by these geometric lines,” hints Eduardo Villalón.
Multidisciplinarity is key to MUT’s work. The friendship between head designer Alberto Sánchez and art director and manager Eduardo Villalón is the foundation of their successful partnership. The natives of Valencia are united in their passion for the beauty of the simple things that surround them in everyday life. Alberto (born in 1980) took the classic route by training to become a product designer. He graduated from Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) in 2005 before working in Ximo Roca’s design studio and at trends agency Observatorio de Tendencias del Habitát (OTH). Eduardo Villalón, on the other hand, is self-taught by conviction, and found his way into design via various marketing positions in the retail trade and in media formats such as magazines and radio.
This symbiosis has given rise to a unique culture of mise en scène: MUT products have the appearance of being more than inanimate objects. They speak to people directly and only become complete through interaction with the viewer or user. “The MUTs” call this powerful characteristic of their work emotive design. MUT are not distanced from objects and prefer pencils, collage and creative chaos to digital design techniques. In this respect too, the pleasant combination of Alberto’s enthusiasm and Eduardo’s pragmatism has proved to be a highly productive principle. For the past four years, the MUT team has also been supported by German product designer Pola Knabe.
A feature of the designs from the Spanish studio is a recurring tendency towards simple, soft circular shapes. In doing so, MUT plays skilfully with the relationship between line and volume, between two- and three-dimensionality: a chair that appears to consist merely of lines (E interiors) stands alongside a blocky sofa (Missana), a shelf emerges from behind a flat mirror, and a graceful hanging shelving system initially appears to frame the space – only at second glance revealing a narrow storage area balancing on the delicate frame (both for Ex-t design). An X-shaped stool (Bolia) has an almost ornamental effect when positioned in a row and is reminiscent of MUT’s wall coverings and tiles, and their Duplex tables (Sancal) not only attest to the reference to architectural role models such as Mies van der Rohe, but also to a highly unique understanding of space, which appears to be drawn into a flat plane and then opened out again – in a similar way to the studio’s ISO tiles (Harmony Inspire) or the 2018 ADA Archiproducts trophy inspired by the Möbius strip. The desire to develop things from a two-dimensional state and give these two dimensions volume has also paved the way for MUT to design carpets and the art direction for GAN. Other objects, such as the acoustic room panels in the Beetle series (Sancal), look as if they have been directly inspired by nature and pinned to the wall, without stripping them of life.
These dimensionally dualistic creations reveal a passion for the graphic design of the environment and have a striking visual impact. They impart structure to space without placing it under a burden and create room for sculptural, elegant objects like the Twins armchair (Expormim), for which MUT were presented with their second Red Dot Award. Where their objects do not make the extraordinary visible in everyday life through an almost surreal, yet always subtle sense of alienation, they transform familiar forms into modern designs, as in the Nautica swing chair (Expormim). Another important theme for MUT is light – light, whose emotional effect on people is captured in the wavy glass of the Chromo lamp (Preciosa Lighting/Wallpaper* magazine) and whose fascinating reflections are captured in forms such as the Duo series of mirrors (Sight Unseen).
The name MUT is derived from the Valencian language (a variant of Catalan) and means something along the lines of “Quiet!” – as in the call made to make oneself heard. But the designers can also identify with the meaning of the term “Mut” in German – courage. “This is a perfect complement to the way we see ourselves, because it takes a lot of courage in today’s world to tread your own path and not be carried along by the tide of trends,” the Spaniards explain. And their designs do indeed stand out, above all for their emotionality and for an expressive design language that is unique.
Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Furniture, Interiors and Design: Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organiser for the areas of furnishing, living and lifestyle. At the trade fair hub of Cologne, the leading international fair imm cologne as well as the trade fair formats of LivingKitchen, ORGATEC, spoga+gafa, interzum and Kind + Jugend rank among the internationally renowned and established industry meeting places. These fairs comprehensively represent the upholstered and case furniture segment, the kitchen industry, the office furniture sector and outdoor living as well as the innovations of the furniture supply industry. Over the last few years, Koelnmesse has specifically added international fairs in the most important fast-expanding markets to its portfolio. These include idd Shanghai, interzum bogotá in Bogotá, interzum guangzhou in Guangzhou and Pueri Expo in Sao Paulo. With ambista, the online portal for the interiors business, Koelnmesse offers direct access to products, contacts, expertise and events relevant to the industry all year round.
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