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Interview with Fernando Abelleyro

Home > Designer Interviews > Fernando Abelleyro

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

Interview with Fernando Abelleyro at Monday 4th of May 2020
Fernando Gabriel Abelleyro
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?
FA: I have always been fascinated by architecture and art . When I was a child I thought how someone could “out of nowhere” transform an idea, a thought, a sensation into a creative fact. At 18 years old, I asked my father if he should study architecture or fine arts, and my father, with his wisdom, told me " You must study architecture because you are going to be able to help and transform people's lives."

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
FA: My "company" is one-man, just me, over the years I have associated with different professionals, but only with those with whom I share that "passionate" feeling for architecture. I am also an architecture proffesor and Prosecretariat at the Faculty of Architecture from the University of Buenos Aires.

FS: What is "design" for you?
FA: Design is the space where creativity transforms people's lives.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
FA: Architecture works, simply.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
FA: A colleague stated that his favorite design was always "the last". It seemed like a wise answer. Particularly my favorite projects were two: “La casa Santos” and “Father Coliins Park” (in Dublin, Ireland), a 16 hectareas public park that won first prize in an international competition. In both projects, what has most pleasantly surprised me is the projection its had, beyond the scope that I planned horizons that I would never have imagined.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
FA: The first project I designed for a company was in a contest, a 150 m2 industrialized technology house, and I got a 2nd prize. I had received as an architect same year.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
FA: Internet is a fascinating experience, because it allows you to know what the architecture world offers in record time, sitting comfortably in your study. I find the A´ Design Award competition platform exciting, seeing the diversity and unlimited creativity that unfolds; Pinterest, ARQA and Archdaily. At the experiential level, the workshop where I teach, with an architectural production that feeds back year after year, approaches and proposals that force you to position yourself in a design place where you normally would not be.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
FA: When I sit down in front of a white sheet, and turn over the drawings that move in my head

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
FA: I always tell my students that architecture is space, there are three dimensions that must be lived, unlike a painting or sculpture that are the result of a creative process that cannot be "habited". Undoubtedly I focus on "everything" the project, in a comprehensive way and what experiences and feelings I am going to awaken in people.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
FA: Passion and freedom, a refuge that isolates me from the world.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
FA: An immense joy, since my work can help many people to feel better.

FS: What makes a design successful?
FA: Perhaps the question I always wanted to answer myself is Who makes a design successful?. It is the people: users, colleagues, juries.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
FA: "If we do a project, we should try that after our intervention the place is better or not worse" I was always an advocate of main idea, guiding idea, as we call it "el partido" in my country. A project in my opinion is good when it starts from a synthesis idea and all the design aspects come together to enhance it. This idea must undoubtedly have a basis based on the complete analysis of the program, the site where the project will be implemented, its context, climatic and environmental conditions, its users or potential users, the memory, the cultural and constructive tradition of the place.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
FA: Absolutely and fully total, we owe ourselves to those aspects. I worked many years designing photovoltaic projects for Spain. Several of those works were built. About this issue, I won a 1st prize - project and prices - for parsol, associated with the Isofoton company. also built numerous public parks where we incorporate concepts of sustainable biosystems and renewbable energy.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
FA: The field of design evolves with technological-constructive developments, I have no doubts. I always tell my students how difficult it would have been for Le Corbusier to build the Villa Saboye, - “habitation machine” -, when both his thinking and his vision of architecture were so advanced and out of date with the technological and constructive solutions of the time.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
FA: My last exhibition (which I could not attend) was for a prize obtained in an architecture competition organized in Azerbaijan, in the city of Baku. I would like to celebrate next ehibition where A´ Design Award decides, although the subject is complex due to the pandemic that is crossing the world.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
FA: Unfortunately, inspiration knocks on the door when she wants! Sometimes you imagine a project because some phrase from your client triggers an idea in your conscience, or because images, travels, visions, drawings come to your mind. And when I ´m teaching with my students, my head goes very fast and tries to give solutions to a design problem, which forces me to give you more than one solution, in a short time. That teaching process forces you to study, research and train all the time, it is very inspiring and formative.

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?
FA: I have always supported the idea that creativity is an individual process, sometimes wonderful and others frustrating. My style is an endless search for self-improvement. I am passionate about architecture that arouses special sensations, that exceeds the very scope that one imagine. Architecture that dialogues with its surroundings, in a playful and transgressive way.

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?
FA: My country, in many cases, was moving away from my understanding of the architectural paradigms of the world. There are many brilliant architects, however, the national production does not always reflect that creative genius many of my colleagues have. I suppose that this difficulty is revealed by the recurring economic problems to which our profession is subjected. Environmental issues are also being incorporated, gradually.

FS: How do you work with companies?
FA: I contact with companies from the private field (my study) and from the public too (as an Subsecretariat), In both cases, I demand that the provision of their supplies or services reflects excellence, the relationship is always through contracts and public or private tenders .

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
FA: The most relevant thing is to respect the designer and his propositional capacity. In many cases the creative process is not valued in its full magnitude, Our professions are developed in a field where matter is debatable, since many times it does not have a scientific basis such as medicine, and that by mistake is a weakness where they can penetrate contrary arguments. The selection of a good designer, if you have experience, is by viewing its background and its production; If she/he are just starting out, you can consult your university professors or see your production as a student. Time gives the maturity necessary to know, in the case of an interview, if the person interviewed has the quality and passion necessary to generate good designs.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
FA: I differentiate ideas of occurrences, a strong idea, persists and transcends its time and your own horizon, an occurrence no. It is based on previous experiences, sometimes own and sometimes foreign situations, the voice in my conscience of my master proffesor as the necessary self-criticism to refine the idea and design the entire proposal. Figuratively without losing sight of "the forest", then come "the trees", although these are also outlined, I finish adjusting the leaves and branches. All the particular aspects necessarily come together to reinforce the first general idea.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
FA: My own house, some wassily armchairs, a vintage armchair, a Venetian painting, a multi-effect led lamp, my glass table.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
FA: My day is divided into my activity and my family. It starts at 6.30 AM, I have breakfast with my family, we leave our daughters at school and at 8.00 I work as Undersecretary in the Faculty of Architecture, until noon, there I start my private activity until 16.00 PM I take my daughters at school, We share a snack and I will teach (twice a week) or I will stay working in my studio until 12.00 PM

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
FA: That they live their profession with passion, each design is not just another fact, a photo of a curriculum, it is something that can transform your and others lifes forever. I always ask my students a question, when you start to be an architect, when you get your degree or when you sit for the first time in a faculty classroom in front of a sheet, and throw away your first drawings? I believe that one begins to be an architect from the moment that decide to study architecture, that is day zero and from that moment they must dedicate themselves to the profession with an eagerness for knowledge and with passion.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
FA: Positives, freedom and creativity, the possibility of helping others and transforming their lives; negatives, that in some cases the designs are matter "opinion", that is a weak flank.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
FA: Without hesitation the method, the golden number, methodological - theoretical questions that one knows and to which one resorts, passes them through the sieve of his personality and "reformulates" them. From a more humane place, I consider that my golden rule is to generate architectural events that transform and improve people's lives.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
FA: Creativity, search, dedication, knowing how to decode what is sought or needed, overcoming work to work.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
FA: My toolkit or resources are the computer, cad and revit programs, photoshop and office, many architecture magazines, a Ralph Erskine book, and internet search engines, sites like A´ Design Award, Pinterest, Archdaily.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
FA: How I can!!! Sometimes I even stay working during the night to the morning, where there is absolute calm, or on weekends, give my multiple activities as a liberal professional, public official and university professor.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
FA: It always depends on your scale, program and scope. But I think a design never "freezes", never closes, even finalized and built, there is always something that can be improved.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
FA: What is the best I can design to respond to this program?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
FA: It was certainly the work experience in Ireland, when I won with a partner the 1st prize in the international Father Collins Park competition in Dublin, Ireland, a project to design a public park on the outskirts of the city, organized by the city council and where 44 teams from all over the world participated. The process was extensive, from the moment we won the contest (in December 2003) until it was inaugurated (May 2009), with work marked by teleconferences, travel and the foundation of a company established in Ireland. Beautiful and complex process. That project gave us numerous satisfactions, we obtained numerous international awards. One of the superlative points was the environmental proposal, since we incorporated a lake and weetlands where the procreation of wild species was spoiled, and we incorporated wind turbines whose energy generation served to power the lights and motors of the park.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
FA: My clients are private investors and real estate developers. But my public function also defines other types of users, fundamentally the academic community.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
FA: I like to design, any challenge that involves designing I'm passionate about it.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
FA: I would love to be able to work in europe, generate a new experience of working abroad.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
FA: n most cases I develop my designs by myself, but I rescue multidisciplinary work and among colleagues a lot, because it enriches your own world, and sometimes, it can give you a different vision of a problem whose subjective focus does not allow you to have a second look .

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
FA: I am currently carrying out several projects, of multifamily housing in the city of Buenos Aires, various scales, also preparing talks for students and a new project for the Faculty of Architecture, an architecture research laboratory as Subsecretariat.

FS: How can people contact you?
FA: Through my emails fabelleyro@yahoo.com / fernando.abelleyro@fadu.uba.ar or my website https://abelleyroyasociados.wixsite.com/abelleyroyasociados

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
FA: Yes, I wanted to share one last thought, which is "The challenge of reflecting, designing and building." University training and professional practice offer the project challenge of reflecting, designing and building. The path of permanent personal learning and training, begun in university workshops, transfers different scales and spaces of proposal, academic and labor. The University, Public Organizations, private studies and companies, Architecture and Urbanism competitions, may be those areas where everyone can think, design, plan and materialize architecture and urban projects. These projects will constitute social events and therefore a propositional axis will be necessary, the structuring of which will be independent of the field of work where the architect develop them, and will be defined by the theoretical framework of their training, dialogue with the context of their insertion, critical analysis and self-criticism of ideas, knowledge of available technologies and resources, applied methodology, enriching multidisciplinary work and, fundamentally, the good of the community.


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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