Estudio Cabeza


Design enables us to fully experience life… Colours, textures, temperatures, involve all our senses. Technology and raw materials are media to humanize the different layers of human protection: human habitat, human apparel, human objects.

● Would you please tell us about the starting point of your design adventure, your educational background and your career up to today?

My first steps were my studies in “Fine Arts” in which I´ve been graduated. In this school I used to draw observing live human models in 1 to 1 scale; this was an opportunity to connect myself directly with the human body, skin, and expression.

Lessons received from my teachers were always oriented not only towards objects and people but to the space they occupied and inhabited. Their representation emerged from the comprehension and definition of this space.

Afterwards I studied and graduated as an architect, but I finally inclined towards industrial design, returning to the 1 to 1 scale, and to the observation of social behaviour of people, which, until today, are the center of my attention: the relationship between body, space and design, from the whole to the part and from the scale of place to the scale of landscape.

● How would you define your design philosophy? What inspires you?

I travel throughout my country observing nature, and reading the language of its landscapes, imagining contexts to be inhabited. Immeasurable, limitless, immense, infinite, vast, boundless, endless, unconfined, our South American landscape challenges me to set limits and demarcate a territory; defying me to intervene it with a human scale…

This landscape and my interest in human body are my sources of inspiration; male and female bones and muscles adjusting to space and a context, leaving a trace, a footprint, in their absence… My focus is man and context, body and support, trying to capture and design the space in-between. Trying to grant identity and entity to this immaterial layer. It is this space of contact that I wish to apprehend and materialize.

I design in terms of “use” and not of “functions” thinking design as a verb form instead of an object: “to relax, to rest, to host, to meet, to protect” are all actions which imply, an anthropological point of view. It refers us to “man” and how man relates to others in a specific site from a social and non-abstract approach. I am inspired by people and their rituals and how people relate organizing choreographies in the public realm.

My process is nurtured by travels through my country, photographic surveys of sites that through their cultural, geographic, or social content nourish my intuition and shelter my thoughts under the umbrella of “dwelling”. I think design as an extension of the human body and nature. I design in order to inhabit the natural and urban landscape, but at the same time, as a game of mirrors: landscape inhabits me.

This landscape and my interest in human body are my sources of inspiration; male and female bones and muscles adjusting to space and a context, leaving a trace, a footprint, in their absence...

● If a design will be a urban furniture, what are the main points to make this product compatible with the urban fabric?

Public space is strongly bound to a city’s cultural identity, to its history, to its traditions: urban elements and communitarian support systems play an important role in the definition of that identity, qualifying it, whichever the scale may be. Through repetition and interaction urban elements and supports systems create a wide variety of services that perform as a background for urban life. From microarchitectures to pavement patterns through rest elements to urban fittings they conform a sensible fabric of facilities and establish a physical communication with all the community. Urban elements constitute a sensible skin where the community inhabits and interacts. To make this possible we design connectible units that are integrated into a whole subtly weaving the skin of the city. This skin has the mark of history as an active factor, prints of materials, technology, and use, they all define the testimony of past and present and as such superimpose in permanently evolving spatial and temporal contexts.

● Would you tell us about the process of designing a product considering the features of a particular urban district?

Designing in the city requires from us a great challenge in interpreting the required scale of intervention: the city is a whole, a unit, a great inhabitable container. The city’s support system can be conceived either from a generic or a particular perspective. This duality implies different ways in which to address it; on the one side the most global approach which involves active supports oriented towards the construction of urban mobility and connectivity, and on the other side, a more particular approach, where supports are of a passive nature and interpret the social structure in terms of community, considering neighborhood scales and their respective characteristics. Thus we face two scales, the grand urban landscape scale and the scale of the urban place.

● What are the crucial design dynamics when it comes to creating a product that appeals to citizens with different age groups and will also be a comfortable and useful piece of an urban life?

We emphasize the concept of a city accessible to all, being this idea present in all of our urban elements. Our quest is one of live ergonomics and open matrix design, trying to go with the objects far beyond mere functionality, offering multiple use options oriented to the idea of appropriation. Many of the elements are conceived as a neutral support-system that allow the user to establish his / her personal relationship with the support, or to blend with the topography of the place. Our elements are designed and thought of, as being part of the territory and the topography, rather than as mere objects.

● Would you tell us about a couple of your recent urban-centered projects?

One is the equipment of the heritage building Retiro Central Railway Station when it was refurbished last year. This was a double challenge as on the one side we had to solve the big scale of the terminal in terms of required seating areas and, on the other, to customize our furniture to the colours, textures, and coating of the heritage conditions of the building. We proposed two different type of seating arrangements: “Encuentros” seating system for the central areas that provided an encounter or meeting place, to wait, to rest, to see and be seen and eventually to sit alone.

“Encuentros” is a useful sculpture formed by four units of different colours of concrete that in this case were tinted with the colours of pavement and preexisting ceramic tiles. The units could be combined to form multiple configurations to compose a topographic site for encounter rituals. The “Comunitario” system of benches was installed in areas of a massive user demand in which people could
lay down with their luggage as they are designed as an open and neutral support system. Their undefined nature allows the user the possibility of establishing a personal relationship with the bench. We proposed them in linear and area version with or without backrest in laminated wood planks with a dark brown finishing similar to the original furniture.

Another recent project was the equipment of the outside areas of the Buenos Aires Planetarium in which we developed “Espalditas” backrests to chat, share and rest; support for tired backs and minds open to the contemplation of stars or an urban pause. The backrests were conceived in two versions: contemplation and reunión: neutral supports to gaze at the stars and mentally draw the constellations, and to observe the horizon as well as a back for encounter and chatting respectively. “Espalditas” concept is based on exploring the body as a footprint and resolving a support which works as a layer between body and ground itself.