“The Mediterranean relays in natural materials, in the handmade, the texture, in the subtle yet deep choice of colors, the sensuality of shapes. Wood, rattan, tile, terracotta, linen, ceramics, wrought iron, glass – all produced locally, intuitively contributing to a sustainable world in which products are the result of a strong and passionate heritage, in which imperfections are regarded as a positive sign of humanity.”
– Ana Domínguez Siemens, curator of “The Rear-View Mirror”
All product images courtesy of the designers; 3D renders © ADORNO
Experience “The Rear-View Mirror” as part of NYCxDESIGN, 11-18 November. This collection is presented in partnership with NYCxDESIGN and has been produced with support from Acción Cultural Española, AC/E.
An unexpected space, deeply rooted in tradition yet contemporary in its construction, filled with bright sun and warm air. Zigzagging stairs flank the central courtyard, climbing ever higher towards a clear sky. Referencing the heritage of the Mediterranean, the distinctive structure draws on Arabic and North African architectures with its brightly coloured walls and interconnected terraces. Immersed in this vibrant space, objects in wood, glass, ceramics, copper, and upcycled waste materials reflect the intersection between past, present, and future. The scene is permeated by a passion for craftsmanship, tradition, and an intrinsic Mediterranean identity – from the general feeling of warmth to the essential of the spirit, the simplicity of the overall atmosphere to the fluidity between the indoors and outdoors.
Tradition, locality, and sustainability come together in “The Rear-View Mirror”, a Spanish collection curated by Ana Domínguez Siemens for NYCxDESIGN 2021. Virtually presented in a vibrant, multi-level structure inspired by Ricardo Bofill’s La Muralla Roja, the collection highlights the experimental thinking of nine emerging and established designers. Their pieces reflect a Mediterranean spirit through their innovative use of materials, subtle yet impactful choice of colour, and reinterpretation of traditional techniques. With a passion for heritage and a strong connection to the local crafts culture, their work contributes to the development of a more sustainable future of design. From digitally printed porcelain to the detailed craftsmanship of local artisans, recovered industrial materials to the poetics of memory-imbued installations – the practices of the selected designers speak to the multifaceted identity of the contemporary Spanish design scene and draw on its past to translate heritage into a modern design language.
Interview with collection curator Ana Domínguez Siemens
What are the main themes presented across the pieces in “The Rear-View Mirror”?
Interpretations of the same reality. Traditional materials used in unexpected ways. Simple construction methods. Sustainability. Local. Recycle. Re-use. Heritage. Handmade.
Two of your previous collections for Adorno, “BACK TO BASICS” and “Collective Memory/Self Expression”, explored the influence of tradition, identity, and creative expression in the contemporary Spanish design scene. Drawing on similar themes, in what ways does “The Rear-View Mirror” respond to or connect to these previous collections?
Yes, this collection is like a continuation of the others. I like to be consistent with the ideas and positions I defend regarding design. There is always innovation, but also [a] deep respect for heritage and for creativity as a tool to connect those two things. The formula might look simple, but it brings out many different results.
[For example, this can be seen in the work of] Studio Coudre … who work with ceramics, but using 3D-printing as a method. Or the work of Sarah Viguer who developed her own material from the leftovers of the “xufa” industry, very present in her native Valencia.
A structure of zigzagging stairs and bright colours surrounds your latest collection. Why have you chosen a scenography inspired by Ricardo Boffill’s La Muralla Roja for the presentation of “The Rear-View Mirror”?
[I chose this setting] because it is a building from the 1970s that is absolutely contemporary in its approach and, at the same time, is very rooted in tradition and with a strong Mediterranean feeling. It is a delight to see how the colors fade away under the sun giving it different shades and it is a modern version of a traditional Kasbah with interconnected patios and stairs. A true jewel that has a lot in common with this collection.
How does this scenography reflect the themes of the collection?
It reflects the themes of the collection in the sense of being able to interpret traditions with a fresh distinctive eye.
What do you think the future has in store for contemporary design in Spain?
A lot of things are going on right now, many young designers experimenting and exploring ideas. More and more the Spanish young designers are also studying abroad, which is important as that gives them an open mind and exposes them to new thinking. I am very excited to see how much interest there is in design and how it is taken seriously and [as] a way to change the world as much as a tool for self-expression.
If the viewers of “The Rear-View Mirror” could take one concept or piece of information away from it, what would you want that to be and why?
That we should always cherish our past, learn from it, and push it forward. That you can innovate with little means or using what has always been there. That innovation depends more on your neurons than in anything else.
“The Rear-View Mirror” is kindly supported by: