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Product design in Spain: milestones in Spanish design

In the history of product design, Spain has played an important role, in designs that are international references.


Rafael Marquina

To begin with, let's see how a good product must be linked to its roots, providing solutions from within. Rafael Marquina is a renowned Spanish designer and architect, winner of the National Design Award, who has worked in a wide range of fields, from jewelry to the automotive industry.

Rafael Marquina Oil and Vinegar Cruiser (1961)

This product, which was intended to solve a basic problem, has become a milestone in Spanish design, linked to the country's culture. The functional objective is to prevent the release of oil, which is achieved in two ways. First, the shape of the flask, wider at the base and narrower as we ascend, providing greater stability, prevents it from tipping over easily. On the other hand, the shape of the nozzle, narrow and curved, helps to control the amount of liquid that is poured in addition to facilitating the re-entry of the oil into the container. In addition, the viscosity of the fluids to be filled is taken into account. In this way, the oil is poured more slowly and the vinegar more quickly. This iconic piece is composed of two elements, the nozzle and the container, whose funnel-shaped upper part facilitates the filling of the container.

Its simple, stylized and functional design has made this object a benchmark in Spanish design. This, added to the loss of the patent by Marquina, has led to copies and versions being made all over the world.

Marquina's first sketch and prototype, less stylized, was soon replaced by the more modern flask-shaped one for which Marquina received the Delta Gold Award in 1961. As we have said previously, the more modern version resembles a flask and in the progression we can appreciate that what he was looking for was a wider shape at the base that would narrow towards the mouthpiece, that is why he finally resorted to that object that recovers a laboratory, because, besides being more aesthetic and stylized, it fulfills in a more efficient way the need for support and tuning.

It is made of glass or methacrylate, so we can appreciate the amount of liquid we have inside, in addition to giving a maximum feeling of cleanliness.


André Ricard

André Ricard is the leading figure of product design in Spain, both for his role in the birth of the discipline and for his career. He is the only non-architect among the pioneers of industrial design. He studied painting and ceramics but soon became interested in industrial design. His work focuses on the user, seeking a detailed and meticulous design, in accordance with the product's use.

André Ricard Ibiza switch (1974)

Interruptor diseño industrial piezas hogar casa André Ricard

Starting from the old differential switch that once abounded in homes, André Ricard demonstrates how design finds its way into different fields of industry. He redesigns an old object typically thought of by electricians and industry technicians, which had a form that today we would see as obsolete.

The first thing it does is to increase the size of the switch, minimizing the frame. The old switches were derived from those used in circuits in a more technical context, designed not to be activated by mistake. While these are designed for the lighting of our homes for ordinary people, they are easier to activate, in a context where activating them by mistake is not a serious problem.

To improve their appearance, the screws are hidden behind the housing and the edges and corners of the frame are rounded, giving a simple and concise result. André Ricard's great vision for finding possible design breakthroughs in everyday things stands out.


Copenhagen ashtray by André Ricard (1965)

Cenicero Copenhague de André Ricard diseño industrial españa

At a time of booming tobacco consumption in Spain in the 1960s, this model of ashtray solves several problems, as well as being aesthetically attractive.

Its mechanization is easy and economical, manufactured by melamine plastic injection, which allows it to be produced in any color, although the designer originally chose red and black, in addition to being resistant to high temperatures.

Its slot allows the cigar to be left and the ash that might fall from it to remain in the lower area. This simple, economical and aesthetic design became an indispensable piece in the bars of the time, which has also managed to remain in force to this day without having gone out of fashion, becoming an iconic piece of Spanish design that has been awarded the Silver Delta ADI-FAD 1966 and Gold Delta 25 years AdiFad 1985.

This design icon is mainly focused on the hospitality industry, especially for bars. With this in mind and the idea of simplifying things, this ashtray was made on the basis of stackable cups, facilitating storage and transport. Its shape, in one piece, also favors the extinguishing of the cigarette, having a higher part in the middle that can be perfectly used for this. This part is surrounded by a lower area in which to deposit the cigars once they have been extinguished.


André Ricard ice tongs (1964)

Pinzas de hielo de André Ricard (1964) diseño industrial y de producto España

Formed in a single piece, thus avoiding mismatches of any kind, both in production and in use, these clamps are a benchmark in Ricard's career. They are made of plastic, making production simple, economical and allowing a wide range of colors. They work the other way around, when you squeeze them they open and when you release them they close, thus facilitating their function, since it is the clamp itself that makes the effort of squeezing the ice to hold it. We could say that they act like the thumb and forefinger in their task of gripping.

Its simple, ingenious, aesthetic and functional design, together with other designs, have made Ricard a benchmark in Spanish design.

Pinzas de hielo de André Ricard (1964) diseño industrial y de producto España funcionamiento

Subsequently, some inspired redesigns have emerged, with added functionality, such as the Tulip tongs, produced by Koala. This model improves the grip for ice and fruit. It also integrates a smaller clamp on the opposite side to accommodate slices and spices that can be added to cocktails.


Banco Catalano: Oscar Tusquets and Lluis Clotet (1974)

Banco Catalano: Oscar Tusquets y Lluis Clotet (1974)

This bench was one of the first designs of Spanish street furniture. Functionally, it solves the problems that arise when outdoors. Its metal mesh allows cooling by the passage of air when it is hot, so that the metal does not heat up, while when it rains, it does not puddle and dries faster. In addition, the transparent surface reduces the visual weight of the metal. The material and structure make it strong and durable for its environment.

The profile of the bench seeks ergonomics, tilting the seat so that the back rests against the backrest and bulging the top to keep the head upright. This profile is inspired by the bench in Barcelona's Güel Park, designed by Gaudí. This wink shows the importance of the legacy that the modernist architect left in Catalonia half a century earlier. The design allows the length of the bench to be modified as much as desired. Normally with modules of 100 or 75 centimeters. In addition, the benches can be arranged and oriented in different ways, adapting them to the place and use.


Miguel Milá

Miguel Milá is one of the main exponents of furniture design in this country. Since 1958, he has worked on his own from his own studio, focused on handcrafted manufacturing without renouncing technology, which he uses in a fair and necessary way. He represents a special and endearing way of understanding design, characteristic of Barcelona's creativity.

TMC Lamp by Miguel Milá (1961)

Lámpara TMC de Miguel Milá (1961)

As an icon of Spanish design, this lamp is still successful today. This is due to several features, such as the absence of the switch, as it is turned on by pulling the cable, or the possibility of regulating in an easy and ergonomic way the height of the lamp.

Designed for reading, the cylindrical methacrylate panel used distributes the light evenly, while avoiding glare. The vertical bar with metal finish makes it lose visual weight while the black base, combined with the white panel regulates the visual stability of the object.

In his context, since the 50s, the rural exodus was causing a change in the real estate of the cities, the apartments were getting smaller and smaller. Miguel Mila understood that the lamp now had to occupy the minimum, so he designed the base in the shape of a non-symmetrical cross, which seeks to maintain sufficient stability with the lamp at its maximum height and to be able to attach it to the wall or a corner, orienting it towards the rest of the room without losing space.

In this design, Miguel Mila demonstrates his ability to combine sobriety and elegance with rationalism and simplicity, which, having improved the ergonomics, the result is a design that does not go out of fashion, as it sells more every year. In the year of its release, it received an ADI FAD (Delta de Oro) award in Barcelona.


Cesta Lamp by Miguel Milá (1962)

Lámpara Cesta Miguel Milá diseño industrial España

The distinctive blend of craftsmanship and industrial design are perfectly embodied in this lamp made of wood and glass originally inspired by oriental lanterns. It manages to be an object with life within its environment, as it accompanies you around the house, being able to leave it indistinctly at different heights, as it projects a soft and harmonious light in all directions.

The handcrafted finish, using traditional techniques of steaming the wood for bending, which consists of a subtle cherry structure protecting a globe of opal glass, diffuser of light.


Gabriel Lluelles

Gabriel Luelles studied as a mechanical industrial designer and mechanical-electrical industrial expert at the Industrial School of Barcelona. He later worked as a draughtsman, technical service manager and finally became director of the Development and Construction Department of Braun Española S.A. His designs have won numerous awards and have been included in numerous exhibitions and collections.

Minipimer de Gabriel Lluelles (1959)

Minipimer de Gabriel Lluelles (1959) sieño industrial españa

The Minipimer MR1 was the first electric hand blender on the Spanish market, with a compact and refined design. The switch is located on the top of the appliance and must be pressed continuously for the blender to operate. The blender can run continuously for a maximum of two minutes. The economy of time that this appliance provided was based, in addition to the speed of electric whipping, on the possibility of whipping the food in the same container where it was being cooked or served and on the ease of cleaning the blender itself. Later, in 1964, the MR2 was created, changing the button for a more ergonomic one that facilitated the task of pressing the button even more, allowing it to be pressed more easily.


Javier Mariscal

Javier Mariscal is an exponent of Spanish design. At first he was focused on the field of illustration, but ended up extending into textile prints, decoration, ceramics, decoration of objects and furniture, and painting and sculpture.

He stands out for his multidisciplinary figure: he has never considered himself as an industrial designer since he was not in charge of the technical part, relying on collaborators such as Pepe Cortés. He is popularly known for designing Cobi, the mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but he also designed furniture worthy of note.

Duplex Stool de Javier Mariscal (1980)

Taburete Duplex de Javier Mariscal (1980) producto inustrial españa

The Duplex Stool was designed for the old Duplex bar in Valencia. It emphasizes the strength of the primary colors in the vertical elements and the black and white in the horizontal elements. It dispensed with one of the four legs that usually had the other stools, and not only that, it appeared with different shapes, showing that the game could be as free as we wanted. One of the legs is straight, the other is curved and the last one follows a sinuous line.

In this design we see Mariscal's rebellion against established forms, against traditional stools. He breaks with the established, combining shapes and primary colors making this piece a real landmark, a stool that can not be forgotten if we want to talk about designs that have marked an era.

Loving furniture by Javier Mariscal (1980)

Following Mariscal's line, this series of furniture mixes color and form as in his vignettes, reminding us a lot of them. To give shape to both the Alessandra sofa and the Saula marina Mariscal is also inspired by organic forms, fleeing from the straight line and all possible geometry.

For the design of the sofa he plays with collage and the cutting up of basic shapes, resulting in a volume that is best conceived as an image, living in harmony with the space in which it is located and maintaining a relationship with the user, representing a way of thinking rather than a simple object.

Muebles amorosos de Javier Mariscal (1980) colores muebles sillones

Coderch Lamp by José Antonio Coderch 1957

Lámpara Coderch de José Antonio Coderch 1957

Called the Disa Lamp, but known as the Coderch Lamp, it was originally designed for the architectural spaces of its author.

It is presented as a delicate and comfortable piece of furniture, famous among architects and select decorators. The wood petals, with their veined texture, conceal the bulb while casting pleasant shadows.

It seeks a warm and intimate light, but, due to its success, it was adapted to other spaces, making it of methacrylate, as it had received criticism for its low luminosity. Models are also manufactured as table lamps.


With this, we end a review of some of the designs that have left the greatest impact on the history of product design in Spain, since its beginnings. While it is true, so far we have only talked about men, focusing on a time when design was largely dominated by this figure. However, we will bring you a blog highlighting female figures who are just as important in the history of design.

From now on, it is time to continue that history, building on it to face the new challenges of our century, with new technologies and materials.

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