Interview- Rafael Fenández, Oitenta
Rafael is a designer of objects by vocation and he is passionate about everything related to creativity, design and innovation. He loves the process of designing and working with natural materials such as wood as well as with new technologies such as 3d printing.
He is passionate about getting his hands dirty and learning how to work with new materials and tools and trying to apply their findings to new objects, which they always carry out in an artisan way.
Born in A Coruña in 1980, where he founded his own design studio whose name, "Oitenta", is the reflection of its origin and year of birth. Oitenta designs its products under the premises of sustainability, functionality and utility. As they say, they work under the principle that good design brings functionality form and emotion.
As a young entrepreneur, how was your experience creating a company?
Well, it's been many years since he started Oitenta, although it did not have much to do with what he is now. I founded it in 2009 with 5 friends, but without experience or a clear business model it ended up being diluted and I spent a couple of years as a freelance designer until at the beginning of 2016 I decided that I had to try to relaunch the brand and dedicate myself to it. Which I like the most, design objects. I still combine the two worlds but the balance is already very leaning towards Oitenta.
What characteristics would you highlight of the Oitenta objects? What inspires you when developing your collection?
My way of understanding the design is that all products have to have utility, I do not like to create something that is purely decorative, but from the functionality I like to bring beauty and aesthetics, with design coherence and the relationship between The material, the process of elaboration and a style of my own that I like to identify with the phrase "Objects are not just things".In addition the customers themselves and the statistics provided by online platforms tell you what type of products are in demand. That is a source of inspiration, another one that is very important for me is to experiment, I like to do new things, to design new products and I still daydream I may someday be able to apply my vein of inventor creating more innovative and ambitious objects.
Your production model, mainly handmade, seems from another time, steamed,molded ... sewing, do you claim with it the originality of the objects, the way of producing them, in front of the big manufacturers in series?
Self-production started as a necessary condition to create a profitable business, I always think "I wish I had realized that before!" But I think for a designer, apart from how good it is to learn to work directly with materials, if you want to launch Its own products and does not have capitalist partners, it is indispensable that it assumes self-production as an essential part of the business model, at least temporarily.I personally love spending time working with materials, and it serves me as learning and as a challenge, it also opens my mind to new ideas.
I think there is also a market that values what is done by hand, the possibility of customization that allows and the history behind those objects. On the contrary, this also implies a bottleneck when it comes to growing as a business .. but that is another topic
You are present in many countries whether working with physical stores or marketplaces. How do you see Spain both in terms of design and responsible or sustainable consumption?
We are 100% focused on the online market and, at the beginning, I did not expect much in Spain to sell too much, but little by little sales are growing and that makes me especially excited. As for the design I do not think that we are a country with the tradition that there is in others, for that reason also the consumption is smaller, but the youngest people already values these things and the young Spanish design also. Of the big brands and manufacturers, I do not have the same opinion and there is a lot to be able to talk about Spanish Design as it speaks of the Nordic, the Dutch.... Eye with Portugal!
You work on a large number of objects with natural raw materials, such as wood or cement Do you consider sustainability criteria of the product when it is made? Do you value the environmental or other certification of your suppliers of raw materials or in your own process?
The main reason for choosing the materials I use is to be able to access them and work with them with the means that I can dispose of, wood I always liked especially and I like to work with it. Providers. I try to be local or national, although I buy some plates in the UK because I can not find them here.I work a lot with hand tools and materials and natural treatments and especially with wood, it is something that I especially value (work with natural waxes, shellac, nogalina ...) I also like to learn new processes and right now I am learning to sew for One of my last works and I believe that I can open a new field that in product is not so exploited.
How do you see the future of the industry?
This sector forces you to be continuously reinventing yourself, learning and creating new things to continue having visibility and customers. New technologies, more and more allow to do more with less, collaborate with people from all over the world and sell to clients also from all over the world.That will continue to go the extra mile. There will still be those who value the low cost and who value the added value of other models. If I think that in order to manage a business, it will become more important (as it is now) to master many different aspects of the process and adapt to the changes that are emerging in the world of e-commerce.
We value your interest on our blog and therefore will like to award you with a special discount on Oitentas products (for purchases within July 2017).