Inspired By
Nature, Math, and Midcentury Influences in Spanish Design

At Sight Unseen, you often hear us ask designers and artists about their inspirations, which is part of our ongoing attempt to elicit the deeper stories behind the objects and spaces we feature. But recently we realized that we sometimes recognize the inspirations behind people’s work before they themselves do, and sometimes it even dovetails with a larger narrative. With that in mind, we decided to launch a new column called “Inspired By” which charts a single inspiration point — whether it’s a person, place, thing, or idea — across a spectrum of pieces, whether those influences were intentional on the part of their makers or not. Kicking off that column is the second in our series of stories about the current Spanish design scene: We investigated thousands of examples of contemporary furniture created by Spanish creators and manufacturers and tried to identify some of the threads uniting them conceptually, settling on the three themes and 15 objects presented below. Check it out, and then follow this link to sign up for Interiors From Spain’s monthly newsletter to learn more.

Midcentury design

Both the color and the head-to-toe upholstery of the Penta chair by Toan Nguyen for Viccarbe are nods to the psychedelic-era designs of Pierre Paulin.
Jaime Hayon’s Lounger for BD Barcelona is a major evolution of its Eamesian predecessor — Hayon even made sure there were versions on offer in his signature harlequin colorways (see top image).

Erwin Hauer‘s geometric screens may have been a bit more three-dimensional, but Solisombra‘s Simplex room dividers still bear a resemblance.
The Acua table lamp by Alfonso Fontal for Modiss channels the domed lamps of the 1970s.

Also a subtle ’70s throwback: the Nobel blown-glass pendant lamp by Erik Österlund for Vibia, which reminds us of Castiglioni’s Lampadina for Flos.

The Naturofantastic Egg Cup by Virginia González for Lladró is like a tiny ceramic take on Eero Arnio’s 1966 Ball Chair.


Matali Crasset had rhizomes — those branch-like underground plant roots — in mind when she designed this metal waterfall chandelier for Arturo Alvarez.
The Snow lamp by Luz Difusion attempts to mimic its namesake using the “filato grosso” method of crafting spun-glass, which entails coating a mold with thick glass thread.
The Lua lamp by Martín Azúa for Arturo Alvarez is essentially a scaled-down facsimile of a full moon, minus the man but with the addition of an elongated handle so you can carry it around the living room.

It may be truer to a Ken doll’s anatomy than to an actual human being’s, but this anatomical stool by Ramón Ubeda and Otto Canalda for ABR — which predated Fabio Novembre’s provocative Him & Her chair for Casamania — proposes that the most natural place to park your backside is atop another backside.


Anyone who took calculus in high school has done a 3-D rotation; these Tri-Turn planters by Harry & Camila for Vondom use a similar method to translate the path your hand takes as you open or close a water tap into a polyethylene structure.

We see a bar graph in the Portavelas set of incremental oversized candleholders, by Jose A. Gandia-Blasco for his eponymous outdoor furniture company.

And another, courtesy of Fermín Verdeguer’s Brancusi cabinet for DARC.
Bertjan Pot’s Tyvek Holes lamp for Arturo Alvarez was actually inspired by kites, but its polyhedronic composition is a numbers game: 20 triangles, 30 bars, 12 connectors, and 57 small holes.