The Designer Behind the Designs
Image 1: Mauricio Aguirre
Writer: Esme Garner-Purkis
It was in the 1990’s after he noticed a aesthetic niche was missing in the Colombian design scene that really inspired Mauricio Aguirre to start his own furniture company. Since then, despite the natural transformation that occurs after years of experience and the kind of stylistic influence that living in New York has on a designer, it seems Mauricio’s fundamental approach remains candid. He pays a respect to the raw beauty of the materials and process’ he employs with a meticulous intent to create items that are an asset to their environment and through their simple beauty maintain a stylistic relevance. These articles explore Mauricio Aguirre’s perspective.
What sparked your interest in furniture design?
I have always had a personal interest in how things are made. The challenge of physically creating something was always exciting to me, especially considering the amount of possibilities a designer has throughout the whole creative process. I enjoy the minimalist style and approach to design. I am constantly considering the best way to get the maximum out of a resource/material with the minimum amount of disruption. Less really is more. The quality of materials that we pride ourselves on using make fore-fronting their assets a priority.
When did you decide on design being your career focus?
All my life I've been captivated by design and architecture. Living in California in the 70’s inspired me to start studying landscape design with an Oriental/Asian aesthetic. I then moved back to Colombia and opened a furniture store with this aesthetic in mind. It's then when I started to create my own pieces and realized design was the the new focus of my life.
How would you describe Aguirre’s style?
I would say the intention behind the designs is to create something unique, simple and timeless. If I had to describe my work's aesthetic; I would label it as a combination of contemporary and organic minimalism.
How has it changed?
I have shifted from a slightly more rustic aesthetic to a more refined one. You can see this difference in the first chair I designed (Image 2). Living and designing in such a diverse and transient city like New York exposes me to a broad spectrum of materials, styles and artists I feel that I have subconsciously adapted and changed my style.
What is your favorite piece you’ve produced and why is it your favorite?
My two favorite pieces so far have been the Malta Dining Table and the Floyd Console. I believe these two pieces best reflect a harmonious combination of organic materials such as bamboo with industrial elements such as the blackened steel. However, every piece is personal, as everything is made to order which allows me creative flexibility with desired color stains, finishes and dimensions.
The creative fuel
When we learn about the elements that influence and provide a designer with the means to express themselves, we begin to gain a greater insight into why items they produce look the way they look and how things are calculated. If Mauricio Aguirre’s moods or inspiring visions could be described in words then it would be this article.
What artist are you most inspired by?
This is difficult. There is an unlimited number i feel inspired by and that list grows daily. If I had to select one I would say Richard Serra. His ability to create pieces that at first appear raw and minimalist yet when analyzed incorporate a great level of complexity. In case I’ve lost you… I love the way he plays with scale and how the magnitude of his pieces establish a subsequent dialogue within the space that they exist and with the people that interact with that.I admire his resourceful and innovative use of excess steel shavings which he uses to create bold paintings. He also see’s the natural change of weather as an asset rather than destruction of his pieces.
What is your favorite color?
Black - You can't go wrong with an achromatic color.
What are your favorite design tools/equipment?
Sometimes I feel a little confined and pressured by the permanence of a sketchbook. My solution is a leather binder that I keep on my desk full of scratch paper which is cut in half. I like the sense of freedom this gives me and it enables me to spread out my sketches easily and see what is working and what’s not.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Natural and organic elements are a huge source of inspiration for me. For instance, a stone I found whilst wandering on the beach became the direct stimulus for a pair of cast bronze pedestals . I feel it is all a matter of being open minded- it is in that state that you find unexpected influences. Natural settings bring me peace which is something I search for as a result of living in the dense man made city of NY.
What is your favorite material at the moment?
I know i’m not answering the question, but I have to express that my main focus recently has been completely overtaken by the multifaceted nature of the processing of cast bronze. It is incredible the versatility of forms that can be manipulated, I have a great level of control over the texture, finish or shape and as a result this inspires a whole range of design opportunities.
To see the finished article occupying space and serving function is rewarding in its own way. But to see the whole process from initial rough sketch to a physical piece is gratifying to witness. Here’s a little insight into the layers of work that are involved in bringing a flawlessly constructed piece into fruition.
How does the studio function/ what’s a typical day like at Aguirre Design?
Almost everyday involves overseeing production. Quality control is at the backbone of the company and we are known for an acute attention to detail. When i am focusing on ideation and new designs I get really inspired by early morning light in a quiet setting preferably facing the water or a natural environment. I can only work
What is it like working with your children?
It has been a rewarding experience for many reasons. Both of my sons came into the company by their own will, it has been a pleasure being able to teach them all the knowledge I've acquired over the past years. It has also given me a sense of freedom because I have absolute trust in there abilities and the way they execute tasks. It's also knowing that there is a complete transparency in there opinions they have no reason not to be honest, I greatly respect whether they like or dislike something. Imagine the length of time and trust it takes to develop that kind of relationship with the people you work with. I am excited to see the ways we continue to grow together.