When they first started this adventure, people used to laugh at them for focusing their studio on experience design. Today, Alberto Martínez, CuldeSac cofounder, proudly shows off the benefits and the drive that his vision offers brands, which like Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Nike, and Seat, just to name a few, place themselves in his hands to carry out ambitious and creative projects.
MARÍA ANTÓN: One of the foundations of CuldeSac was having a creative space where time would be one of the most precious assets. After 17 years, how do you maintain that philosophy or how has it changed?
ALBERTO MARTÍNEZ: Time is still our core idea in the studio. We are expecting a strong movement now: CuldeSac 2.0. We want to create a much larger studio, with hotel rooms so we can invite people and so they can have that time to spend it with us, photography workshops, spaces where they can be with animals. The “wish pills” are also arriving, so we and the 65 people who work here can find a balance between work and their personal life, so they can decide where they would like to travel, what part of the world, and what they would like to see. It is not leisure, but it is not work either, it is an introspection towards design, culture, gastronomy… CuldeSac becomes a lifestyle. We are the owners and controllers of our time, which is not an easy task, after 17 years… (Many times I measure it through the time I can sit down and draw; if I don’t draw much in a week, I tell myself, ‘this is not good’).
MA: After debating whether or not there is an esthetic guide in your designs, what is your conclusion?
AM: We don’t have an esthetic vision, there is no uniformity on how we do things and we don’t want to have it either. Great projects are made because there are great clients and they turn out fine because we walk hand in hand with them within their own universe. We focus on working from people, it is from them that the construction begins. The essence that defines us is experimental design, which offers amazing results on a brand strength level.
MA: Always “Mediterraneanly”?
AM: (He laughs…) A leopard never changes its spots! Even though we always try to get it impregnated, we adapt to the style of our clients, it is on experience design, at user level, where we provide a difference, in order to discover brands or make users enjoy products in a different way. That is the future. Our projects include technology in people’s everyday life, not only through mobile phones.
MA: Is a design that is capable of lasting through time a changing factor or a stable reference?
AM: When I studied Industrial Design we were told that the good pieces were the ones that would resist time; if they last it is because things are well made, they work, they meet all the purposes and generations to come follow them and accept them as they are.
MA: How do technology and new materials that have been introduced affect you as a creative person?
AM: I don’t consider materials so important, first I need to understand people and then I will consider materials.
MA: Why is the “retro style”, when paired with technology, the latest in point of sale?
AM: I have a theory that the retro style exists because we are moving forward so fast, technologically speaking, and I believe that there is a global feeling of nostalgia and of needing to grab into things from the past, to grandparents, to the 70’s, 60’s, or 50’s decade. We try to buy time, or the feeling of having a part of it in this space. Without knowing it, we are all in favor of technology, but we are still a little scared. We are, because new generations aren’t, my kids don’t experience that.
MA: According to you, how will shops from the future be?
AM: First, I’m worried if we will have stores. We are constructing hotels and apartment buildings where the ground floor, instead of having mailboxes, has Amazon boxes. Everyone buys online. The store concept has disappeared, they will become experience centers, which put another way is like “the brand club”, space where people gather to enjoy, to coexist, centers where values and lifestyles are shared. Perhaps they will not be on the ground floor in houses but rather distributed in apartments, hidden, to discover new things. There will be very strong movements of new ways to understand and communicate them. The online part will be revolutionized so much (yes, even further).
Great projects are made because there are great clients and they turn out fine because we walk hand in hand with them within their own universe. We focus on working from people, it is from them that the construction begins
MA: How is an idea sold?
AM: By trying to show the dream you have inside your head, trying to transmit it, managing to make the eyes of the person in front of you sparkle. Sometimes theirs sparkle before ours. We accompany them on their journey.
MA: Which is the perfect client?
AM: The one who has a vision, who is not afraid of falling, who takes risks. In Mexico, people always say, ‘go ahead!’ Europe is older in that sense, they doubt more.
MA: Your favorite store in the world...
AM: I consider them to be spearheads and very easy to make, by their storytelling, stores like Lego. They interact with objects, with people, with ages, with cinema, they blend universes, they are theme stores, and these are easy because the history of the brand is strong in itself. There are other formulas that still impress me, like Ikea, those infinite trips along the circuit, where you end up buying in bulk, and where they are worried about what their next step will be.
MA: A project you would love to do...
AM: The question is curious because I have been traveling the same path for so long now, that I don’t look at the sidelines. But if I managed to stop, it would be designing the interior of a boat. I see very beautiful things, but I feel that coexistence in closed (and small) spaces during long time periods is important.
MA: Pencil or tablet?
AM: Tablet, 100%. I’ve been drawing since I was a little boy and I am used to drawing by hand. I looked for a tablet where I could draw well for a long time, but pencils were terrible… and then came Mr. Apple and I never put it down, I don’t know how they do it…
MA: What would you like to be, if you hadn’t been a designer?
AM: An architect, for sure, but I make architecture, so it would have to be something related to taking care of people, something more sociological, which made people’s lives better. I couldn’t be a musician, because I have ears, but not inner ears… (he laughs). Even though I always dreamt about what I wanted to become, since I was young, and I have been getting there little by little, I feel so fulfilled. If I can make history now, because the money comes and goes, it would be amazing.
PHOTO BY Alejandra Laguna
*THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF VOLUME 01 OF CONTAINER MAG