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Interview with Gerardo Ríos Altamirano

Home > Designer Interviews > Gerardo Ríos Altamirano

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Gerardo Ríos Altamirano (GRA) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Gerardo Ríos Altamirano by clicking here.

Interview with Gerardo Ríos Altamirano at Monday 22nd of October 2018

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
GRA: My mother is an Interior Designer, so I was always fascinated by design and I was very close to her work. Since I was a child I loved visiting museums and traveling very much, this broadened my horizons, which make my designs influenced by many cultures and landscapes besides y own. After high school I studied Industrial Design at the University of Monterrey (UDEM) in México, where I expanded my knowledge in design, besides having a passion for painting and arts. Since then, I have worked twenty years in the furniture sector, designing pieces for hospitality and home.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
GRA: I own a furniture factory for Hospitality since 1994. I always focused my company to design, but only as a part of the manufacturing-design-service. Four years ago I took the decision to design furniture, with the sole purpose to amaze and delight the highest taste of Interior Design which was always my dream when I was a student.

FS: What is "design" for you?
GRA: For me, the meaning of design is tied to its latin origin (Di=from, signature=signature), this means that an object becomes a piece of design when the shapes and style are defined by an author for a purpose, like the signature of an artist but with the task of fulfilling a need.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
GRA: These past years I have been concentrating on furniture, it has become my passion and I spend several hours of the day sketching new designs.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
GRA: The dining table aero, because it’s the first design that I did for the Aero Collection, which is my favorite because it was inspired by an emotional state of optimism and dream realization.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
GRA: At that time, I was studying design in Monterrey. And I was hired to design 3 lamps of a collection that would had to be made in ceramic and plasters. This collection was inspired in marine curves with simple and organic silhouette and also had interior light.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
GRA: My favorite materials are pencil, paper, and watercolor, those are my most used at the time of sketching, when I have to build the concept of my idea. From there, I work with a 3D digital platform helped with my great team in the design studio.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
GRA: I actually feel creative almost all the time. I do not need a particular moment or inspiration to sit down to design. it is clear that during trips, visits to museums and contemplating nature, I feel more creative though.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
GRA: Inspiration is the trigger element of my high-end designs, the intention is to communicate through the shape, color, the texture and the emotional sensation that it generates. In my own way of seeing it, is to try to make the design communicate emotions and inspires in the same way that an art work does, but in a more personal and perfect way, because it interacts with the user, allowing them to use their piece of art, sitting in it, or keeping their things in it, sleeping in it or eating in it, creating a personal relationship that allows them to experience the art of that piece, but in a physical way. The process always begins with an emotion or idea to be communicated, followed by the study of shapes by means of drawings by hand, to then elaborate more concrete designs in CAD. It is necessary in some cases to physically build real pieces first, that due to the difficulty of their shape, some times it is very difficult to decipher them on CAD or even express them on paper. From there, final prototypes are developed, which are evaluated from various aspects such as resistance, ergonomics, and production methods, to finally deliver the resulting design with all the aspects taken into account in its best posible way.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
GRA: There are very few things in life I enjoy so much as creating, designing and developing, which are 3 different words for the same thing to me. Is the need to communicate and inspire what leads me to design and create, in an attempt to express myself and positively influence the mood of the people. We live in a world that passes us by at a dizzying speed surrounded by things with very little meaning, making us feel at the end of the day that our day did not have any memorable meaning. It is through art ... and better than through a type of art that can interact with us, that we can begin to give more transcendent meaning to our activities, generating an emotive impulse that gives off reflection, amazement, happiness.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
GRA: I always try explaining to my collaborators and clients when a design is ready, that I hear as if a very nice melody sounds in my head. When a design concludes with the finished prototype and all the changes are made, the music plays simply and sublime in my head. This is what I feel when I see a finished design.

FS: What makes a design successful?
GRA: It’s a combination of solutions that allow the design to solve a problem with ergonomics, aesthetics and style.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
GRA: There are several perspectives from which a design can be evaluated, for example, from an efficient and creative way that solves a problem, or from the approach of style and beauty. My favorite perspective of design analysis is the ability to project or unleash an emotion, the beauty and harmony of the shapes it represents, in conjunction with a story immersed in the design that gives it a name and surname, as the roots of the word Design (di-segno, signed or done by). That the object has the implied signature of the author, his personal seal, his DNA.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
GRA: To reach where I have arrived today, has given me the possibility to inspire people. Especially I like very much to positively influence young people ... get them out of monotony and conformism, and lead them to educate themselves more and love beauty. Also support local communities to help them meet their most basic needs and mainly feel they are important to someone and can achieve more with their own efforts. I still have a lot to contribute in this area, and I want to have more opportunities to apply the design in favor of a greater good to the community, however in Mexico design is not yet a public issue, much less popular. We must encourage the government and society in general to appreciate the design to create those opportunities.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
GRA: Every day design is more appreciated and people are beginning to understand how important it is because this area cannot be made by machines and it goes towards efficiency talking about the solving of problems and the use of materials that are contemporary trends.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
GRA: My last exhibition was in Las Vegas last August and I plan to have the next exhibition in 2019 probably in Barcelona.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
GRA: It can come from any positive thing, nature, photography, emotions, sculpture, and other designs, I like to travel, visit museums and be outdoors to feed my creativity.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
GRA: I admire Modernism, Atompunk, Art Nouveau and Dadaism currents. In addition to this, I had the privilege of travel a lot and getting to know many cultures, which contributed to my style, I can´t be defined in a very precise way, so the principles of my designs are more to surprise the spectator and amaze, creating new concepts and shapes from a mixture of influences with good aestethics and perfection in ergonomics.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
GRA: Merida, Mexico, it inevitably affects the ways I design and my inspiration but it is not a limit for my style and it doesn’t define my designs. The multiple trips that I had in my childhood around Mexico and the world, opened my mind to a multicultural cosmopolitan concept, without losing sight of my roots and the emotional charge that emanates from them.

FS: How do you work with companies?
GRA: We´re not working with any companies yet, but we´re looking to partner with a company soon.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
GRA: They have to look for a person that is very creative with collateral thinking and more than directing the designer they have to let them know the goals and the tools that they can provide.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
GRA: I get an idea in my head from a source of inspiration and then I express it through synthesized shapes in paper so the design takes shape and then the ergonomics are solved.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
GRA: This is a difficult question because I love all my designs, I´m very proud of them and they took effort and time to develop, but of course there are some whose stories are among the most appreciated, one if these cases could be the Eros console, the main door of my house, the Aero dining table and the coffee table Terra, the door of my kitchen and the chaise lounge Eros,

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
GRA: I am now trying to change the fact that my agenda takes up a large part of my day in managing a company with more than 1000 employees. I have never stopped designing and putting my head in each of the pieces that are produced and I enjoy tremendously the time that I dedicate to design my line of high profile, for which I dedicate all my energy and experience, as well as diverse resources that I have in the company, as is the great work team that I have by my side, which allows me to move very quickly from the concept to the final piece. I am about to receive my license as a pro-avion pilot, with which I will fulfill my second greatest dream of my childhood, which is to fly, to be a pilot and go by myself to see nature from my own perspective. My family occupies the most important part of my life to procure welfare, be an example to follow, and being protector and leader for them, makes each morning a beautiful challenge and enjoyment at the same time.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
GRA: The mind of a designer in its golden age is like a delicious dish in the best restaurant. It is only achieved with the best ingredients and a great cooking experience, seasoned with creativity and the subtlety of your senses. My advice is that you get quality elements to fill your mind. Art, nature, positive emotional experiences, travel as much as you can knowing different cultures and their myths and legends, as well as their vision of the cosmos. Read and educate yourself, develop what you designed. Start with more basic things, it is very frustrating to start with very difficult things that you cannot conclude satisfactorily. Be daring, that would be the biggest advice I have. Do not be afraid, go for your dreams and never give up, design is not a goal, it's a journey!

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
GRA: For me it's great to be a designer, because you look at the world from the always optimistic perspective that everything can be improved. Everything always has a solution and all objects and things communicate and speak a visual and sensorial language. It's like speaking a language that is common in all cultures, the language of creativity. The negative aspects are more because of the lack of knowledge of the market about the functions and uses that a designer has, which often results in difficulty to get work and the resultant economic difficulties for some. Other factor is the ignorance of certain people that produces plagiarism which hits very hard to this sector so valuable, to which is owed nothing less that all the advances of which we enjoy today.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
GRA: Never lose sight that everything is designed for people. So the ergonomics and the usefulness of the design must always be considered. In my vision, beauty is nevertheless a substantial part of ergonomics. A design cannot be ergonomic if it bothers the senses (any of them). Design communicates something, and it´s important that a designer knows how to combine the elements they know to give meaning to their work.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
GRA: Creativity in very importante because new solutions are made out of different combinations of the things we know in a way no one has thought of. Also empathy for the clients because even though design is closely related to art, it is not the same thing and a pice of design is going to be used by some one and it most be confortable and practical. lastly it is important to develop a good space perception for every design is supposed to fit somewhere, that´s where ergonomics help us.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
GRA: Paper, drawing pencils, aquarellable colors.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
GRA: Design is one of my hobbies, and it is also part of my daily job. So almost all my time is dedicated to design, create and manage new ideas. Nevertheless, I am searching for a commercial partner so I can dedicate entirely to design and develop.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
GRA: It can vary a lot. It can take from 12 days to 8 months, depending of the other designs that are in process and the complexity of the design.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
GRA: Why do you compete, and how did you learn to design that way?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
GRA: As a Designer, one of the most important was a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to dress the preferential lobby of a high-end category Hotel at Playa Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
GRA: I have made designs mostly for luxury home owners, and hospitality companies like AM Resorts, Grupo Hermes, JW Marriott, Palladium Hotel Group and for my two signature brand home furniture VAROVA and GERARDO RIOS DESIGN

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
GRA: I love to design furniture, all parts of the design from the conceptual to the development of the prototype. Maybe the 3D drawing is the less attractive for me, that’s the reason I got very good team in that area.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
GRA: I'm at an interesting moment in my life, so far the main occupation has been to attend as a director a furniture factory, occupying much of my time in rather administrative work and industrial development. In the coming years, I would like to dedicate more time in my life to design and create a high profile design brand, for which the conceptual part of the brand is being designed, based on my way of designing and expressing art, unrestricted only to the furniture design but in a much more extensive and versatile way. I am looking for a founding commercial partner of the brand, so that growth is faster and with global projection, so I can devote myself more to design than to management. My dream is to transcend in life not only with my designs, but with my philosophical concepts about this, the optimism with which I look at nature, the human body, eroticism, creativity and the assault of the senses as a whole.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
GRA: Yes, I always work as a team. The only part I do alone is at the star of a design, developing the concept, the first sketches and the general drawings and dimensions.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
GRA: Since last year, I’m developing a tans lucid material, studding properties of wind to generate sounds, and static electricity applied to art.

FS: How can people contact you?
GRA: I have a web page: grios.mx and my email: gerardorios@grios.mx


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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