Contrary to what one might think, a designer like Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, who has chosen the path of self-production, from small editions and work on the brink of being handcrafted, never felt tempted to explore this aspect of design, where the freedom is absolute, where there are no potential customers, and where meeting functionality requirements is not mandatory. Therefore, when Machado-Muñoz requested a collection to be edited in a limited series in order to investigate the possible connection between his work and art, Álvaro responded by confronting the task in the most literal way possible, using sculpture as the main character but at the same time, taking a “sui generis” detour to question the sculpture/lamp or sculpture/furniture dichotomies in two projects which were different and had a new point of view along their path. These projects kept his interest in tact in regards to revisiting processes that come from the practice of industrial design and resulted in something unexpected, clever, and surprising at the same time. In these projects, the designer was invited to transgress, to break rules, to push back borders, to operate at the edge of his discipline, and to invade the paths of art itself. It was a new challenge, and, in Álvaro’s case, it was the first time the ban was lifted, the first time he could take off the corset imposed by his strict industrial design training, which prepared him to provide solutions to specific problems.
Imagination is a fundamental ingredient in any process that is as physical as it is mental, to the extent that implementation is almost as important as the piece itself. This is especially evident in the project, “Rayuela”. The idea came from what were wooden stools with a geometric design and with the same name. These stools, grouped together, form tables with surfaces of varying size and shape, creating a geometrical grid (like the classic floors which inspired it), which, when elevated to the height of a table, give the impression of a floating floor. The pieces of discarded wood from the production always intrigued the designer: specifically, a few blocks with a triangle base but which became a hexagon. He then made a sculpture from them, where all the lines break and then continue, where fullness and emptiness complement one another, where all the textures, rough and smooth, add value. In the new “Rayuela”, this time in marble, the modus operandi was reversed. First, a sculpture was made and then with the scraps, some stools were made to place around the sculpture. It is all shown on a geometric floor with a diamond design, in a kind of a total space loop.
The second project, “Totem” is a group of light sculptures. It too, is a foray into the intricacies of geometry. It is based on perfect pyramids, spheres, and cubes made from transparent acrylic, of dry profiles and clean cuts. When illuminated, the light reflected produces an intriguing play on full and empty spaces, and on light and shadow, which brings us back to the realm of imagination. This aspect is reinforced by the fact that the plinth itself is an integral part of the sculpture, as this is where its essence is located. In fact, here, Álvaro makes another reference to his profession as an industrial designer by expressing his longing for the return of the incandescent light bulb, which is on its way to becoming a thing of the past, with a cable with a switch at the base of the sculpture.
Nothing it what is seems in these two collections, either formally or conceptually. The designer continues twisting the terms, true to his principles.