Despite its economic woes, Spain is emerging as hot bed of young designers. So, while looking at the cream of new creative talent for our Next Generation issue (W*154), we felt it was time to put the spotlight on the country. Teaming up with ICEX, the Spanish Embassy Commercial Office, we hosted a temporary exhibition for one night in London dedicated to new names from Spain.
The show, curated by Wallpaper* editor-at-large Henrietta Thompson, featured designs from seven studios. Entitled La Nueva Ola ('the new wave'), it took place at the William Road Gallery in London, a beautiful gallery space owned by architects John McAslan + Partners.
While admiring the impressive selection of works, the 150-plus guests enjoyed tasty tapas from restaurateur José Pizarro, and the finest tipples from Wines from Spain and Estrella DAMM beers. Meanwhile, DJ Yasmina Dexter spun the decks, getting the London design crowd dancing till late into the night.
La Nueva Ola focused on designers from Spain's two major creative hubs; there's Barcelona, a cultural hotshot since it began what has become a continual process of reinvention, initially in preparation for the 1992 Olympics. In November, it effortlessly attracted the world's design glitterati when it hosted the first Inside World Festival of Interiors. And there's Valencia - an arts mecca and incubator, with its Santiago Calatrava-designed City of Arts and Sciences. The city has become a centre for furniture making and is home to the ever-improving, annual Feria Hábitat trade show.
Following in the footsteps of local-turned-international design luminaries such as Jaime Hayón, Patricia Urquiola and Héctor Serrano, a new generation of product and furniture designers in these cities is now causing a stir.
Playful yet pragmatic, sustainable and defiantly down to earth, but at the same time relentlessly individual, these designers share a stubborn refusal to be categorised, stereotyped or in any other way limited.