Q&A: Spanish designer Martin Azua on his Basic House

The designer and teacher discusses his Basic House project with SmartPlanet.
Written by Sun Kim, Contributor

Martin Azua, designer of the Basic House, bases his design strategy on natural processes, not just finishes, and economy of material. For example, Azua also designed an urn made from biodegradable materials (coconut fibers, compacted peat and cellulose) that contains a seed, which will grow into a tree once buried. Azua uses nature as a universally understood and valued language to communicate his ideas and concerns for the future.

The designer's background includes degrees in Fine Arts, Design, Architecture and Ephemeral Installations, and Social Communication. His projects, four of which recently won 2011 Delta Awards, range from home accessories, furniture, textiles, architectural designs, clothing, and experimental research.

The designer and teacher discussed his Basic House project with SmartPlanet:

SmartPlanet: How did you get the idea for the Basic House?
Martin Azua: I designed the Basic House for an exhibition in Barcelona called Future Compound. I was asked to do a piece for the future and I thought the house was the most decisive thing in our lives. If you can put the house in your pocket, [it] means you can not have anything inside: "Have it all, having almost nothing."

SP: What problem were you trying to solve?
MA: I tried to make attractive an extreme reduction. I'm a big fan of Ezio Manzini's theory, that in the future the designer's task will consist of making poverty attractive.

SP: How does it relate to your other work?
MA: When I left school I was quite radical. I firmly believed that design could change the world. I developed other projects such as Interaction Cushions or Natural Finish, which also had a provocative background.

SP: Is the Basic House air tight?
MA: Yes, it has a single hole. It is made of lightweight polyester foil of 12 microns thick. One face has a silver finish and the other one gold. It's like a survival blanket that protects from cold and heat.

SP: How does it stay inflated?
MA: The weight of the house is so light that it has no pressure and remains swollen.

SP: How does it collapse and refold?
MA: The material is extremely light and thin so it bends easily. (The original Basic House was designed with a T-shirt printed with instructions on refolding to a pocket size square.)

SP: What do you think the practical applications of the Basic House are?
MA: It is more an idea than a product. An image of extreme reduction that I think is very timely in these days of crisis and values changes.

SP: Is it close to being produced commercially?
MA: I would like to see it come true, but it’s, as you say, a conceptual exercise.

Images: courtesy and copyright Martin Azua

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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