Interview with Sandra Figuerola

Sandra Figuerola is an emblematic figure of Valencian design, whose work stands out for its eclectic character and involves different disciplines: graphic design, editorial design, corporate identity, industrial or textile design, etc. She collaborates with several Spanish brands and international companies.

Her designs incorporate references to contemporary arts, be it music, dance, plastic arts or theater. Aside from her designer work, she also teaches graphic design for the master’s degree program at CEU San Pablo and at the San Carlos Faculty of Fine Arts in Valencia.

Sandra Figuerola has designed seven collections in collaboration with GAN: Rustic Chic, Glaoui, Palermo, Tasili, Canada, Catania and Siracusa.

What is the starting point of your creation process? Is it perhaps a certain technique, a color, a form, a culture?

My style is closely related to my vital experiences: nature, travel and art, all of them intimately linked to my way of life. These references give me culture, symbols and languages to work with.

The creative starting point of a new collection often coincides with a new trip or exhibition that brings new inspiration or modifies my point of view in some way. I try to stimulate the senses and “nourish” the eye with new experiences.

The emotional baggage and vital experiences are often the starting point for any new design project. For example, the kilim collections Catania, Palermo and Siracusa were directly influenced by a trip to Sicily, and the Alexandra and Tumbuctú rugs were inspired by Moroccan ancestral crafts.

What leads you to choose one or another technique in the process of creating a rug?

For me the first thing is the idea, the design and the colors … I try that the technique comes later. Depending on how complicated the design is, it will adjust more to one technique or another. For example, with woven rugs the drawing is perhaps technically more limited … while with the chain, it allows greater graphic expressiveness.

What are the properties that most interest you about a material?

My way of working prioritizes the graphic element, the color or the form… maybe less so the medium. The material medium needs a design. Obviously, it is still necessary to maintain a standard of warmth, quality, thickness, maintenance criteria…. We create pieces that must have an extended lifetime, so you need to work with to quality material. This is something that GAN knows very well. Their qualities are always the best: the tinting, the wool, the threads, the natural fibers, the finishes …

What moves you in the process of choosing colors? Are they in any way related to the material and technique of each design?

I am passionate about color! I love working with a wide color palette… and abusing it whenever I can. All the ranges are interesting to me, if they are well coordinated… it depends a lot on the style or graphic idea that you have, sometimes the luminous and intense ranges work better with contrasting tones. Some other times, on the contrary, it is better to use tones in the same chromatic range and flee from saturation.

What is the architectural value and meanings that a rug can have?

Rugs are an important element in interior design since they become part of the interior architecture of a house. It is an element that delimits space, brings color, warmth or a point of audacity and madness to a room. Throughout the history art they can be seen integrated into urban landscapes, into rooms of Renaissance interiors, opulent and baroque, but they are also found in contemporary references such as in the works of Balthus, in a more modern style. Carpets and rugs always accompanied us … history proves it and I hope it continues to do so!

How has your conception of rugs evolved from the first design you did until now?

Well, it hasn’t really evolved… my references and style remain the same. It is rather an adaptation to languages and their evolution, as well as to the market… trends and fads influence me very little. I identify a lot with geometric languages, inherited from the avant-garde… but I am also interested in artistic referents or elements that derive directly from nature. I am baroque with the forms, expressive with the use and abuse of color and I love the mixing up styles. I do not identify with minimalism … I leave that for architecture. A rug is a blank canvas … and I love painting on it!