Meet the Spanish Breakout Talent So New He Doesn’t Even Have a Website
You’d be forgiven for assuming that the ceramic-based objects pictured in this post were tables — it’s an easy mistake to make. The work of Spanish designer Julen Ussia looks almost, sort of usable, while in actuality it’s more of a research project devoted to — as he puts it — “how materials and shapes can suggest an idea of usability.” With the exception of the jointless floor mirror series below and the arc-shaped ceramic lamp above that he developed with fellow Spanish designer Max Enrich (with whom he’s also working on a series of pitchers — more on that soon), almost all of the images Ussia sent us are of loose assemblages of materials rather than of finished objects. Not unlike Sigve Knutson and some of the other young process-based designers we’ve featured recently, he says they act more as “quick methods to think, almost like drawing with materials and gestures.”
Ussia came from an art background and then, after taking up ceramics as a product-design undergrad in Barcelona, returned to his hometown of Bilbao to pursue a graduate degree called “Master in Ceramics: Art and Function,” which was by nature focused on the experimental gray area between art and design. His work has remained there ever since. “I’m developing a research lab with the aim of proposing new hypotheses and possibilities in furniture,” he explains. “My criteria are almost exclusively limited to the search for support points and the usability of shapes — building more or less stable structures to explore the gravity, tension, and structure between materials. There are no permanent joints or finishes; structures are constructed and disassembled again and again until I find something worth being registered.”
We find his sculptural works not only worth being registered, but worth marking him as one of the next big talents out of Spain, along with Enrich, Guillermo Santoma, and another designer Ussia is currently collaborating with, Jorge Penadés. Ussia doesn’t even have a website yet — keep an eye on his Instagram for more.