Guatemalan designer, Luis Arrivillaga is just 35 years old but has already lived and worked in Guatemala City, Milan and London and has a large number of his furniture designs in production with European companies such as Bolia, MDF Italia, Made e Mano and Ex.t. Many of his designs revolve around the use of tubular steel in graphic ways, while others embrace the beauty of solid wood. In recent years his work has been featured in Wallpaper* magazine and in Furnitecture, a book by Anna Yudina published by Thames & Hudson and has definitely become a name to watch.
Having originally studied mechanical engineering at Rafael Landivar University, graduating in 2005, Arrivillaga quickly recognised the limitations of remaining based in Guatemala and moved to Milan to take up a Masters Degree in Product and Interior Design. During his studies he collaborated with several prestigious Italian companies including Serralunga, Alias, and Alfa Romeo. In 2010 he joined Atelier Biagetti (Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari’s studio) then in 2011 moved to London. While his time at Atelier Biagetti was brief, the influence can still be seen in much of Arrivillaga’s work.
In 2011 Arrivillaga won first prize in the MDF Italia + Cristalplant competition that is showcased each year at Salone del Mobile. This high profile competition supplied him with the opportunity to work with MDF Italia on developing his table prototype ‘Putia’ designed for the contest into a finished product. The table which features a Cristalplant (a brand of solid surface acrylic) top that appears to flow into the solid timber legs at each of its four corners was released at the Cologne furniture fair (imm Koln) a year later.
The effect of releasing a product with such a prominent company as MDF Italia, cannot be underestimated and Arrivillaga has had a steady flow of his designs going into production ever since. Most recently these have been with Ex.t, an Italian brand based in Florence, Kendo Mobiliario, a Spanish brand from Valencia and Bolia, a Danish company.
His most recent design is the ‘Dana’ pendant light first shown as a prototype at Maison & Objet in September. The light is inspired by Victor Vasarely’s optical art. The light uses two semi-spheres of fine metal rods that not only play on each other to create contrasting solids and voids that achieve a moire-like appearance but which also casts shadows of a complex graphic nature. The two semi-spheres can be moved to create different forms from a full 50cm sphere to variations on an open flower bud form.
Arrivillaga’s ‘Stan’ is a low coffee table from 2014 that was much acclaimed for its simple but exciting mix of interlocking geometries that create a visually light outcome. The design was Influenced by Piet Mondrian’s grid-like artworks that through the careful use of colour and geometric line were capable of portray varying emotions from intense energy to a balanced calm. ‘Stan’ was selected by Wallpaper* magazine and by Anna Yudina for her 2015 contemporary furniture sourcebook Furnitecture and by French trends consultancy Chlorosphere.
Another recent design in production is the ‘Quadra’ table. Really more of a universal trestle leg design, the set of two legs accept a wide variety of table tops in a range thicknesses. The black lacquered metal ‘hoops’ create the impression of a floating table top. It was released by Ex.t in 2015.
As a counterpoint to the fine geometric work that Arrivillaga has done, the 'Panchina' bench embraces the fundamentals of traditional timber benches from Scandinavia but with a high level of simple detailing in the joints and structure. Available from Ex.t in solid oak or walnut, the bench is 37cm high and 135cm long.
‘Balotaro’ is an unusual interpretation of a bookend in a conical form that resembles an abstract version of a loud hailer. Made from ceramic and oak, they can be positioned in three different ways to create a variety of looks while still functioning to keep books in place. The design was developed in 2012 but remains a prototype.
For more on the work of Luis Arrivillaga go to his website.