Clerkenwell Design Week (20 to 22 May 2014) saw the launch of Brintons’ collaboration with studio Zuzunaga, brainchild of Barcelona-born artist and designer Cristian Zuzunaga. The designer first collaborated with Brintons for the 2013 Campaign for Wool exhibition – you may remember his striking 30m bespoke runner for the show at London’s Somerset House – and the new carpets continue the fascination with the pixel, for which the London-based studio have become renowned.
Zuzunaga is no stranger to high-profile partnerships, having previously collaborated with the likes of Hästens, Kvadrat, Ligne Roset and Moroso. I asked Cristian how things developed with Brintons following the Campaign for Wool exhibition: “We realised we had to explore new avenues and turn our mutual interest into a formal collaboration… Having colour and the square as a starting point it was amazing to look into Brintons’ archive. I saw grids, bright colours and forms…. and to my surprise there were some motifs that resembled enormously what today’s technology offers.”
Brintons began manufacturing carpet in Kidderminster in 1783 and remain proud of their heritage. Today the company’s patented High Definition Weave technology allows translation of 32-colour computer aided designs with almost photographic accuracy. Cristian commented “That was a key point of our collaboration and mutual interest; to marry historical designs and past ways of working with today’s latest technology.”
The new carpets continue Zuzunaga’s fascination with the pixel, which Cristian explains started with his study of biology which “instigated in me an urge to look for detail, for the unseen”. The patterns and chemical dyes seen under the microscope would later find a visual parallel in his fabric designs, alongside an interest in the macro and the micro, and an appreciation of the geometric in the organic.
Cristian continues, “My idea that ‘the pixel is the icon of our time’ came while I was studying for my MA at the Royal College of Art in Shanghai in 2006. I was doing research for my dissertation which was based on globalisation, new technologies and how these are altering how we perceive and navigate the world, both virtual and real.”
As a firm which presents a kind of whole lifestyle proposition, Zuzunaga has also made a recent first foray into men’s fashion: a series of cardigans, capes, jumpers, hats and scarves inspired by city architecture and the grid entitled ‘Momentum’.
At Clerkenwell, Zuzunaga also unveiled a series of four interlocking ‘Cuzco’ poufs, intended to be upholstered by specifiers in their own fabrics. Launched as Milan this year, the poufs have already proved popular with interior designers and have even found their way into a child-friendly Milanese dentist’s waiting room!
Finally, I ask Cristian where he finds inspiration. He comments, “I find inspiration mainly in the urban: architecture, anthropology, the psychology of the built environment. But at the core of my work is the aim to understand the present moment we all live in and try to project it towards a present future where us human beings are at the core of it all.