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Interview with Iciar De Las Casas

Home > Designer Interviews > Iciar De Las Casas

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Iciar De Las Casas (ID) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Iciar De Las Casas by clicking here.

Interview with Iciar De Las Casas at Tuesday 1st of November 2016

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?
ID: I guess I have “architecture in my genes” you could say – my father was an architect and my grandfather was a technical architect, both very well known in the profession here in Spain, and I was inspired by both of them. I love everything about architecture: from its history and theory to all the nitty-gritty of detailing and construction.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
ID: I have my own architecture studio in Madrid We’ve designed and built projects of many different program types, from private houses and housing developments to social housing, schools and other cultural and institutional facilities. Windows are a new line. I saw the potential for using new technology in windows, ideas that I couldn’t find in the market, and I started talking to technical specialists and got to work.

FS: What is "design" for you?
ID: For me, design is an integral part of architectural thinking. When I design a window I am thinking about issues of space, light, aesthetics, function, structure, materials, economy and the different possible contexts of use. In a way, our windows incorporate a whole philosophy about the role of design in everyday living.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
ID: Anything with a roof on it. Gardens too. And all the elements involved.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
ID: My favorite design is always the one I’m working on right now. At the moment I’m developing new features for the Weco Window, how to make new shapes (round and angled windows), incorporate new operating systems, blinds, screens and other forms of solar protection.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
ID: It’s hard to remember, but one of the first things was a built-in storage wall incorporating closets, shelving and a mini-kitchen for scholars’ dormitories in one of my father’s projects, the Institute of Spanish-Portuguese Studies in Zamora.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
ID: Well, for starters, wood, though I could mention tons of others. Wood is not as common a building material in Spain as in northern Europe, but it has an amazing versatility, especially with new techniques of lamination and so on. It’s a wonderful natural material, every piece is unique. I love its warmth and I'm fascinated by the long tradition of craftsmanship in working wood, which we carry forward with our windows. Working with carpenters is one of the great pleasures of making Weco Windows.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
ID: When I am working on a design problem, I am working on it all the time, not only during work hours at my desk. It's when I'm in the shower, trying to fall asleep or driving the kids to school that I get some of my ideas. But the best time is early in the morning, in the studio, alone, before the hubbub and distractions of the day start.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
ID: designing? Designing is a process of going over and over a problem from every angle, again and again. To get everything right you have to focus on the smallest technical details, without losing the big picture in the process. And you have to have the capacity to anticipate problems, to see also what is not right in front of you, the still-invisible potential consequences of any given situation. 10. What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?

FS: What makes a design successful?
ID: A successful design has to meet many different performance criteria, but then it has to have something extra as well, something like the beauty of an elegant mathematical proof, in which everything comes together in a single clear idea.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
ID: Architecture has focused too much in the last few years on creating spectacle. Too many of the clients who Architecture has focused too much in the last few years on creating spectacle. Too many of the clients who commission homes from famous architects are "fashion victims". Their houses are not even functional! My first aim is to make a client happy. And that's what I look for in other designs. I am all for experimentation, research and invention. But always in the service of the function of the building, and with the client's best interest in mind.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
ID: Our commitments to environmentally sustainable industrial production and energy-efficient performance are at the heart of our window design. Increasingly, consumers and end users in general are with us in this commitment. With our design, we hope to contribute to the European Union's goals for greatly reducing building energy consumption in coming years.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
ID: Design is becoming more and more important in everyday life, and people are becoming more aware of its importance. We are a very visually-oriented society, and a highly technified society, where every aspect of our environment must be designed at some level or another. Designed objects are deployed to try to seduce and fascinate us at every turn, as well as make our life easier.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
ID: I´ve traveled widely to see and analyze the most interesting works of 20th century architecture, and I’ve found inspiration at every turn. I also read everything I can get my hands on. There are so many little-known architects with marvelous work. Somehow that all feeds my imagination, but how the information goes in and ideas come out remains something of a mystery to me. It’s not a direct thing.

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?
ID: I think I probably come out of the Spanish tradition of designs that are very direct and functional, without fuss or strutting. Spanish architecture is very elegant, to the point, and yet its best practitioners think everything through as if it were the first time anyone had approached the problem, say, of designing a stair or a window. I’d be proud to be considered part of that tradition.

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?
ID: I think I probably come out of the Spanish tradition of designs that are very direct and functional, without fuss or strutting. Spanish architecture is very elegant, to the point, and yet its best practitioners think everything through as if it were the first time anyone had approached the problem, say, of designing a stair or a window. I’d be proud to be considered part of that tradition.

FS: How do you work with companies?
ID: Working with clients is very complicated. You are not only selling them a product, you have to educate them along the way about a vast range of technical issues and design considerations. You have to get to know them, understand them, and even psychoanalyze them a bit and offer your best counsel. And I try to make my enthusiasm contagious, to put new ideas into every project, to keep my own interest alive and pass that energy on to them. I do this with my private architectural clients and I find myself doing the same thing with the clients for Weco windows. We end up creating all kinds of custom designs, discovering possibilities that none of us anticipated when we started talking.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
ID: The first problem clients have to solve, together with their architect, is to determine exactly what they want, need and can afford. Clear goals, clear decisions that move forward with the progress of the project. They also have to trust the professional advice we can give them. How to select a good designer? That in itself is a whole process of self-education: looking at whats out there, deciding what you like, and then using the first contacts to test rapport and compatibility.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
ID: A good designer must be exacting, demanding of themselves, and in passionate about their work. Then there's the spark of a special, particular imagination, which seems to be innate: either you have it or you don't.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
ID: I still turn to books and magazines. I have a library that spans a couple of generations, from my father and grandfather. and those sources are fundamental when it comes to sitting down for the first time to face a design problem. But of course these references are already all in my head, and it's a question of going back to the masters in order to find that spark of a new idea.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
ID: Running a small business, it's not only the designing that takes time. It's very important to reserve a period of peace and quiet each day for creative work, and not let the pressures of business swamp everything.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
ID: t take to design an object from beginning to end? In a way, design never ends. I am always thinking about how to improve our windows. It's a continuous process.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
ID: We are currently marketing our windows in Europe, but we are a young startup and our immediate plans are focused on consolidating the company and insuring its success. Our growth plans include new markets and new window models to meet the demands those markets present.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
ID: I always prefer teamwork. The dialogue with another person, going back and forth over a particular problem, that's when I really manage to think and engage.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
ID: This year, we received development funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 729206. The grant recognizes the excellent thermal performance, innovative design and great market potential of Weco’s W2C window. We have also received a number of other awards this year, most recently the German Design Award.

FS: How can people contact you?
ID: You can start on our webpage, www.wecowindows.com. Our contact information can be found there, we'll answer your queries right away.


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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