In Barcelona, Spain – well known industrial designer, Rafael Marquina, has a daughter named Nani. She would grow to continue her fathers design legacy while also carving a new path for herself. Starting in Spain and branching outwards, Nani Marquina would go on to open her own interior design shop. In the late 80s, she went one step further and begun to manufacture her own carpet design collection. Today she is internationally known and praised, winning awards and even holding the presidency of the ADP (Design Professionals Association). On October 24th, we welcome Nani Marquina to our showroom for a very special engagement.
Nani Marquina was a student of industrial design at the Massana School. At the age of 22, she opened her first retail store “Self-Decor”. Ten years later, Nani began to design custom carpets and textiles. Not long after that, the nanimarquina brand was created. The Begonia collection was selected to be a part of the MoMA store.
Spain has an incredibly rich artistic and architectural heritage. Especially in Barcelona – with it’s countless Gaudi structures, beautiful concert halls and world-class culinary artists throughout. It is no wonder that Nani found inspiration in her home-town, along with her radiant personality and drive, she would generate mass appeal that has paired her company with the world’s leading designers. Nani is pictured on the left with her daughter Maria who also works at the company.
Nanimarquina has received numerous awards including the Red Dot, Delta Awards, National Design Award, and the Award for Woman Entrepreneurs FIDEM.
The company prides itself on several respectful ideologies: fair trade, anti child labour and sustainability. Maintaining a high sense of morality eludes many successful manufacturers today, continually cutting corners and victimizing workers for profit. Not Nani Marquina, the carpet fabrication is done in India by trades men and women who enjoy their work and take pride in the fact that they are creating something very special to be enjoyed around the world. If you’re doubting me, watch a few videos on the nanimarquina YouTube cannel.
Their production is clearly documented and it is very apparent that those under Nani’s employ are respected, treated fairly and appreciate the opportunity to work for a leading design company.
Last year nanimarquina celebrated their 25th anniversary and welcomed the neighbourhood to join in on the fun.
‘Digit 1’ designed by Cristian Zuzunaga
‘Roses’ designed by Nani Marquina
It is apparent by looking at photos of Nani’s smile that she is gracious, honest and open. Here is a short Q&A with Nani to get us warmed up for the event on October 24th.
Nanimarquina was one of the first brands to create high-quality contemporary rugs. What made you go in this direction?
When I started designing rugs, I saw that there was no other company or brand focused on creating high-quality contemporary rugs, especially in Spain, where the “design movement” was already beginning. Designing rugs became my passion.
Can you comment on how your rugs combine modern style with traditional techniques?
We always wanted to transmit the origins of the rugs – their meaning in the ancient cultures, how they used them, how they created them. So we tried to keep using the ancient hand-made techniques from different cultures combined with the “nanimarquina style”: innovation in colours, textures, fibres… and being absolutely creative in the designs.
How would you describe the style of nanimarquina rugs?
nanimarquina designs carpets and textile items, putting special emphasis on research into raw materials and manufacturing processes. This enhances the beauty of the products, converting carpets, textures, colors and knots into art and stories. I believe that my passion for art and admiration of nature define the essence of my work.
Most modern rugs don’t rely on traditional techniques. Can you discuss how this works and why it’s important to you?
We always try to revive old methods, but always from a place that is modern and “ours”. For us, the best carpets are made by hand. Among these, the most appreciated are those that took the longest to make and therefore received more dedication. I think that if you create handmade rugs using traditional techniques such as kilim, dhurrie and sumac, your rugs become really special and unique. Behind them, there’s not only a very laborious process but also a story about another culture, which gives them a very special value.
Has nanimarquina’s design aesthetic evolved over the years and if so, how?
Well, for sure there have been some changes in nanimarquina’s design aesthetic during the past 25 years, but it has been a natural process, a non-premeditated way. I think that creativity has no rules, no limits, so we have to let it fly and see what happens, leaving fashion aside.
‘Losanges’ designed by the Bouroullec Bros.
You have collaborated with leading designers like Tord Boontje, the Bouroullec brothers, and Ron Arad. How do you select who you will work with and how does the creative process work?
Usually the designers contact us directly with a design, then we work together, starting a creative process looking for the perfect design and the best way (technique, fibre…) to produce it.
Can you tell us about the designer collaboration you unveiled at ICFF?
We collaborated with Milton Glaser, one of the most influential creators of our time and, as an important design figure in the 70’s-80’s, one of personal significance to me, because I embarked on my own design career in that period. Consisting of three rugs, the collection possesses a bold graphic style that one would expect from Milton Glaser, depicted through texture and color rather than simply printed to properly convey the spirit of the original artwork in the tufted-wool medium. Behind this collection lies an extensive process and investigation of colors, shades, and fabrics with the purpose of finding the perfect balance to express Milton Glaser’s message: feeling, perceiving, and discovering Shakespeare in a rug.
Who or what has been a big design influence?
My father, one of the design pioneers in Spain. He made me feel passion for his job, for the design movement, because I lived it in my home.
Please talk about your embrace of color in your textiles, which is not as typical of many contemporary designs.
For me a colour means a feeling. Each feeling has its own color, so it is one of the most important aspects in our rugs, what do they make people feel.
Nani speaks about her new ‘Natural’ collection.
Do you have a design philosophy that you follow?
Yes, looking for innovation, bringing emotions with the rugs and connecting with people.
What do you see that’s happening in design these days that excites you?
It excites me that nowadays people know more and more about design, so they are more involved with design. They know more about what they want – quality and durability – and also that the use of handicraft techniques is increasing, which is good news.
Do you have a favorite design shop in Spain or abroad?
In Spain, one of my favourite design shops is VINÇON, in Barcelona. It’s too difficult to choose a “favourite” design shop abroad as there are so many unique ones.
Do you have a favourite place or city to spot new design?
What’s your favourite design hotel?
The Casa Camper, in Barcelona.
What is the current design scene like in Spain?
Design in Spain is increasing. The Spanish design has experienced a great evolution since the 80’s; nowadays there is a lot of furniture, illumination and other decorative elements. Companies are trying to be more focused on design and more competitive, which allows them to be in the international market. So I can say that Spanish design is experiencing great development.
‘Topissimo’ hand tufted rug, designed by Nani Marquina
Save the date, October 24th and visit us in store for your chance to meet this remarkable person and celebrate her many accomplishments and beautifully vast body of work. Space is limited so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP to make sure that you’ll be able to attend.
Several of Nani’s carpets are already gracing the floors of our 50 Water St showroom; stop by now if you can’t wait until the event.