ANDREU CARULLA, THE HETKI CREATOR

The man behind Hetki, the collection of moment-capturing pendants, is Andreu Carulla and industrial design studio close to Lake Banyoles. Andreu is approachable, witty and as brilliant as his creations. He understands design as a reflection of the Mediterranean lifestyle and creates brilliant, powerful products intended to bring a smile to the faces of those who wear, use or interact with them.

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We shared the conceptualisation and creation of Hetki with him. It was a fascinating process! Hetki is one of the most complex pieces Joid’art has ever produced. The project was a real challenge and it was achieved through many trials, much enthusiasm and the odd nerve-racking moment. They were unique moments, as prolific as the five versions of Hetki that eventually saw the light. This interview is a proof of just how well we hit it off with Andreu.

Andreu, define yourself in three words.
Passionate, restless, stubborn.

Tell us a bit about who you are and your professional career path.
I am Emma and Isaac’s father and Miriam’s husband but, if I am defined by my profession, you could say that I create objects, I’m an industrial designer.
My professional career began before I finished university, working in the R&D department of a multinational company. Subsequently, I worked at a number of design studios until, in 2006, I set up my own in my hometown of Banyoles (Girona).
The studio has evolved since then: 3 moves and various new additions to the team, so that there are now five of us working in an old mill near the monastery in the town.
We design all kinds of objects, from small spinning tops to a bus, this allows us to learn from all the sectors in which we work and apply innovative solutions in each of them.

When and how did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I don’t know exactly when but what I do know is that it is totally vocational. From an early age, I liked to take small objects apart and rebuild them. I wanted to be an inventor so I was directed towards engineering but that did not suit me at all and I discovered that my calling was in an area known as Industrial Design.

You have collaborated with the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, you have won a Red Dot award… which of your products are you particularly proud of?
That’s a very difficult question, as I put my entire heart and soul into each of them. For me, each and every one has something special; they are like little reflections or solutions with a story behind them.
The work we do for El Celler is very special as it is pure creativity. They don’t set boundaries. Quite the opposite in fact; they push me to go even further.
As for the awards, it is always a pleasure to receive recognition for your creations. You never know if what you are designing is going to be understood or catch on and when you receive an award or some form of recognition it gives you the feeling that you are on the right track. It is always subjective, however, and there are many products that should be multi-award winning but never will be.

Is there a specific Andreu Carulla style of design?
It’s not as obvious as it might be in other designers, but I hope so. I try to deliver concept in all my projects but you could also say that as an industrial designer I am, in many cases, indebted to my clients, who establish boundaries and requirements. It is a ‘corset’ that doesn’t allow me to work as freely as an artist does but I feel very at home seeking out that hidden balance between industrial viability, functionality and the beauty of the piece. And, whenever I can, I like to add a touch of humour…

What are your influences?
I’m fuelled by small, magical moments: when my daughter sneaks into our bed at 6.00 am; watching the sun rise as I’m running through the mountains around the lake; my morning coffee with the team in the studio; when my son does his impression of a T. rex…
Being totally vocational, I associate absolutely everything with design, so everything directly affects my work. You could say I’m always working (or never…).

What led you to collaborate with Joid’art?
The relationship with Joid’art has been one of the most unusual at a professional level. We have been speaking for the past four years about making a piece together. Funnily enough, we have either had a meeting or exchanged emails every spring since 2012 to talk about what we could do together and then, this spring, it has finally come to fruition!

What was the creative process like for this project?
Completely different from the other projects we work on. We started it as we normally do: conceptualization, 3D modelling, rendering…but we did not get the poetry that the project required using those tools, so we ended up taking a hands-on approach; modelling by hand, using plasticine, wax, copper, wire, etc. It has been a completely empirical and manual process. The meetings we had with Cristina Julià were animated and very productive. She guided us with her extensive experience in the sector and set a frenetic pace to meet the deadline.
We also joined forces with Run in designing the packaging, which reinforces the concept of the jewellery and hopefully make it easier to grasp.

What kind of jewellery do you like?
I don’t have any specific preference but, in general, I like long necklaces; they give the impression that more ‘things’ can happen along the way.

A moment to be captured.
A first date, reading a pregnancy test. Or more simple moments like a good coffee, jumping off the rocks into the sea on the Costa Brava, woolly socks in winter… They can all be special, it depends on how we approach them. And things are always better when you are in good company.

A material.
All materials! I love the diversity, the plasticity of each one, the combination of them.
Wool, jute, silk, felt; copper, aluminium, carbon steel, stainless steel; concrete, fibreglass, ceramics, porcelain, Macael marble; woods such as oak, walnut, iroko; Pyrex® glass, Carrara marble… even plastics, although they have to be used responsibly and intelligently.

A colour.
I’ve already played my ‘all’ card on the last question, so I’m going to have to narrow it down…
It depends on what it is for: in clothes, warm colours, more towards the low-key. I always leave the colour to the end when I’m designing. It’s something I find very hard to decide on. I try to make sure that the product is not defined by the colour, but by the material.
If I have to say one, I’m going to be boring: black. Never fails.

A work of art.
Gran elefant dret by Miquel Barceló. Surprising, fun and technically very demanding.
Which of the five versions of Hetki is your favourite? Why?
If I had to choose one to give my wife, it would be Sublime. If she reads this, it will be giving away a Christmas surprise…

What would you keep inside a Hetki pendant?
I would have a whole arsenal of things to put inside. Starting with little pebbles picked up from different places that I like, to small pieces of my children’s toys, to a leaf, twig or flower I find when I’m out walking.
I think we’re going to have to do a version for men…

Maybe so… Thanks a lot, Andreu!
Thanks to the Joid’art team, it’s a pleasure working with you!

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