Born in the countryside of Galicia, northwest Spain, designer Arturo Álvarez moulded his career from the beauty of the Atlantic forest, the extraordinary sea and surrounding mountain ranges. He was an observant child, an autodidactic learner from the start, making his own toys and experimenting with any object that fell into his hands.
Having first been introduced to the mechanics of lighting while working at a furniture factory in the field of electric maintenance and assembly, his pull towards lighting design began with a curious exploration of the Tiffany technique, based on American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work with stained glass and lamp design.
“Working in lighting happened by chance. I consider it a way of expression like any other. I could have chosen to make jewellery, furniture or clothes… I’m attracted to lamps because of their light; they shine.” said Álvarez. His career blossomed with time and through the public’s positive reception of his work. Álvarez is now the lead designer of his own design brand, arturo alvarez, comprised of himself and other designers. Together they have created a laboratory of ideas, combining ingenuity, innovation and technical experimentation with the philosophical ideals of the company’s ethos.
From tactile beginnings, Álvarez has developed an ethereal and organic style, while maintaining that his products must be able to adapt to any kind of project in a harmonious way, adding value to and highlighting a project as a whole. With his signature style, Álvarez pays no attention to trends, finding them “restrictive and frivolous”. In his work, he combines functionality with beauty through the varying textures and transparencies of form and material. He absorbs and exudes a professionalism that searches for different paths and explore new languages of expression through experimentation, consequentially.
This signature style can be seen throughout his projects, a more recent and notable one having taken place in Porto, Portugal at the InSpiritum music festival. A piano and violin concert resounded through a magnificent historic building in which arturo alvarez’s lamps harmoniously blended with the surroundings and musicians. Álvarez’s work has also been displayed as visual art as part of a collective exhibition in a contemporary art museum alongside other artists.
All the accumulated experiences of his life have influenced his career to shape his work into what it is today. “The landscapes, my travels, the people I meet, animals, the marvellous textures of nature… My home and studio are full of branches, seeds, leaves, shells and stones,” he said. Inspired by all things natural, Álvarez most admires Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, commenting: “I’m impressed by his experimentation in different trades and how he integrated a variety of techniques in architecture.”
In his own work, Álvarez pertains to the same ideals stemming from natural inspiration to experiment with unlimited creativity and lack of boundaries. “That for me is very important and sets an example to follow.”
Looking ahead, Álvarez aims to evolve as a creator, making pieces that transcend the utilitarian in order to create other relationships with the public, to open other dialogues and paths of reflection. Referring to pieces such as the Encontros illuminated figures, or the use of shadow in Conversas, “I see myself going deeper into this field in years to come,” commented Álvarez. As part of this development, a recent project saw him patent his own material, SIMETECH, a handmade material composed of a stainless steel mesh with a silicone covering application. Álvarez continues to explore textures and delve into new materials, “an aspect of my work I truly enjoy.” Seeing infinite possibilities in all his projects, Álvarez thrives off unpredictable exploration and expression of light. “I will go on working, researching and exploring, just like when I was a child.”