DESIGNTALKS - Lecture - MARTÍ GUIXÉ

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In this lecture at SPD Cristina Morozzi introduces Martí Guixé by recalling his very first exhibition of finger food concepts in 1996, during Barcelona’s Primavera del Disseny. Martí claims he was very confused at that time, not knowing if he was a designer or an ex-designer anymore but he already knew for sure his ambition was to explore concepts and ideas for commercial purposes. According to him, the role of a designer in the ex-industrial society is to break the rules and the boundaries among the disciplines. In this perspective, his speech starts with the provocation: "I will buy perhaps two chairs in my lifetime, but i’ll buy food three times a day". While many designers strived to come up with yet another great new chair, Guixe believed that the most compelling and neglected area of design was and still is food. He admits he’s not interested in cooking at all. "I am only interested in food as I consider it as a mass consumption product and I like the fact that it is a product that disappears and is transformed into energy". In Guixé’s view, food is primarily an edible designed product according to the principles of functionality and ergonomics and far from any reference to cooking, tradition and gastronomy. For example, his Tecnotapas project is a range of snacks to be consumed in the extreme conditions of contemporary lifestyles: while sitting in front of your laptop or even under water. Sponsorized food restaurants bring together the urging need to feed the world with global corporations' advertising tecniques: here you can eat for free a potato omelette with a Calvin Klein logo on it. Guixe has also designed an orange flavoured lollipop with an orange seed inside. When you finish the lollipop you split the seed promoting an inconscious reforestation. Taking innovation a step further, Guixe investigates the concept of performance. Desigual is a fashion brand offering an informal clothing range at accessible prices. Instead of decorating their shops with the pictures of the catalogue, Guixé organized parties with his friends to create the visual identity of the stores while eating, drinking and having fun. With this system all the shops are different, yet each of them is completely genuine and authentic. The only problem is there are too many shops opening, he adds. After his first works, critics started to wonder why Guixé was experimenting with food without actually cooking. To stress this original approach he arranged a performance in a gallery launching the Spamt concept (short for: és pà amb tomàquet): the typical Catalan bread with squeezed tomato, salt and oil, here prepared by four friends coming from Japan, Sweden, Italy, France and himself doing the quality control for the 450 pieces produced over the evening. A similar idea is behind the Tapas Karaoke for a huge exhibition taking place in 2001. As Guixé believes traditional kitchens will disappear in the future, to become general hobby rooms, his tapas karaoke combines kitchen counter-top, cook book and entertainment as home cooks follow the bouncing ball to prepare the latest techno-tapas recipes. The concept of interaction inspires all of Guixé’s design, bridging the gap between emotion and function. And the PlantMePets collection - holding three different kind of seeds planted in the eyes of each toy: tomato, potato and melon – force you to come to a final, impossible decision. If you plant them, they will be destroyed but if you don’t because you are emotionally linked, they can’t perfom their function anymore. An integrated part of Guixés conceptual approach is his interest in design as a platform for questioning, visualising and influencing contemporary human behaviour. To him, design needs to evoke constant evaluation of the parameters of function and active engagement and reinvention on the part of the consumer. His playful, critical and provocative attitude is reflected in the frequent use of disposable or cheap materials and the quick and ephemeral character of much of his work. The final product – a candy, a toy or a shop - often seems only one outcome of innumerable possibilities.

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