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COMMUNICATING BEAUTY: HARRY&CAMILA AND GOOD DESIGN

COMMUNICATING BEAUTY: HARRY&CAMILA AND GOOD DESIGN

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DUTCH DESIGNER HARRY van Ierssel and  his Chilean partner in life and business, Camila vega Faba, aren’t easy to pin with any convenient label. And that’s probably because the sheer range of their works is so wide and, says Harry, “I’m better with design and not with words”.

Harry&Camila have created products for Kristalia, Alessi, Living Divani, Rosenthal, Covo, Fontana Arte, Koziol and Abet Laminati – everything from vases to stools; laminate to wall screens.

Ask Harry himself to define his style — and  his simple answer is that he doesn’t have one. “I call myself a cowboy,” he says. “I want to be free. It’s up to other people to decide my style.”

Harry and Camila met at the Italian design and fashion school Domus Academy in 1994 and opened their studio in Milan four years later. Harry trained as an industrial designer and Camila trained in fashion design. They moved to Barcelona with their children Indi and Blu Canela in 2002.

BCN STOOLS & POULE TABLE

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“Good design communicates beauty. What people relate to is beauty and that’s one of the fundamental aspects of a very good design.”

Although known for textile projects using recycled objects and silicone, perhaps the single object that is most recognisably theirs is the BCN stool created for Kristalia. It’s one of the world’s best selling designer stools and is to be found in Google’s headquarters. It’s also a curvaceous, cantilevered piece of design intelligence and beauty that probably best characterises Harry’s driving concern.

“The whole thing with design is trying to find the perfect shape and to find the perfect line, because everything in the end about design is about details,” he explains. “And to find this perfect line for me is the biggest challenge and you try to find this perfect shape and then you work with other people to interpret this shape and make it perfect.”

Harry also believe that design is the act of uncovering something that already exists.

“My philosophy is that whatever needs to be done is already out there. It’s just that somebody sees it and others don’t,” he says. “It’s [about] just being busy and trying to find in your research and your discovery to find the ideas.”

That’s the esoteric side of the job but the Dutch designer is also, it seems, grounded in a very rational approach too – he is, after all, fundamentally an industrial designer.

“I design for myself and I design for the market,” he says. “If a product sells well then in general it’s a good design. A good designer should try to make as beautiful products as possible.” Although as he adds, “It’s for every designer to decide for themselves what is good design.”

For his part, Harry believes good design “communicates beauty,” he says. What people relate to is beauty and that’s one of the fundamental aspects of a very good design.”

Communicating beauty isn’t what we’d traditionally consider as a cowboy mentality – but then again in a world that can do with a few more beautiful ideas, maybe it is.

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GUY ALLENBY

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Guy is a past design editor of Belle Magazine and was a feature writer and section editor at the Sydney Morning Herald for a number of years. His work has also been published in The Australian newspaper plus a host of magazines internationally. He is the author of a couple of architecture books and a best-selling biography of mind-body medical pioneer Ian Gawler entitled "The Dragon's Blessing". He is the editor of the generalist.

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