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Design Stories: Nani Marquina

Design Stories

Nani Marquina

Barcelona-based nanimaruqina has been creating contemporary, handmade rugs since 1987. Collaborating with top talent like Ron Arad and Tord Boontje, the brand's bold, colorful rugs feature cutting-edge style and artisanal techniques. YLiving recently caught up with the company's founder and namesake Nani Marquina to discuss the firm's work and her favorite design inspirations.

Nani Marquina was one of the first brands to create high-quality contemporary rugs. What made you go in this direction?

Nani Marquina: When I started out, I saw that there was no other company or brand focused on this approach, especially in Spain, where the "design movement" was already beginning. Designing rugs became my passion.

Digit Rug by Nanimarquina
Digit Rug

Can you comment on how your rugs combine modern style with traditional techniques?

Nani Marquina: For us, the best carpets are made by hand. I think if you create handmade rugs using traditional techniques such as kilim, dhurrie, and sumac, they are really special and unique. It's not only a very laborious process but also a story about another culture, which gives them a very special value.

We always want to transmit the origins of the rugs — their meaning in ancient cultures, how they were used, how they were created. So we try to keep using the old techniques from different cultures combined with the "nanimarquina style": innovation in colors, textures, fibers — and being absolutely creative in the designs.

How would you describe the style of nanimarquina rugs?

Nani Marquina: My passion for art and admiration of nature are the essence of my work. nanimarquina puts special emphasis on raw materials and manufacturing processes. This enhances the beauty of the products, converting carpets, textures, colors, and knots into art and stories.

Has nanimarquina's design aesthetic evolved over the years and if so, how?

Nani Marquina: 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, not premeditated. I think that creativity has no rules, no limits, so we have to let it fly and see what happens, leaving fashion aside.

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?

Nani Marquina: 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, fiber, etc.) to produce it.

Can you tell us about the designer collaboration you recently unveiled at ICFF?

Nani Marquina: We collaborated with Milton Glaser, one of the most influential creators of our time. He was an important graphic designer in the 1970s and 80s, which is of personal significance to me, because I embarked on my own design career in that period.

The collection consists of three rugs and features a bold graphic style that one would expect from Glaser. This style is expressed in the rugs' texture and color, rather than just the print, so the medium of tufted-wool is able to properly convey the spirit of the original artwork. This collection is based on an extensive investigation of colors, shades, and fabrics to find the perfect balance for expressing Glaser's message: feeling, perceiving, and discovering Shakespeare in a rug.

Who or what has been a big design influence?

Nani Marquina: My father, one of the design pioneers in Spain. He made me feel passion for his job and for the design movement because I lived it in my home.

Earth Rug by Nanimarquina
New Earth Rug

Losanges Rug by Nanimarquina
Losanges Rug

Please talk about your embrace of color in your textiles, which is not as typical of many contemporary designs.

Nani Marquina: For me a color means a feeling. Each feeling has its own color, so one of the most important aspects in our rugs is how do they make people feel.

If you were to pair your rugs with some pieces on YLiving, what would you choose?

Nani Marquina: If I were to put together a space, I would use our Losanges rug with the red Polder Sofa by Hella Jongerius and the Stephanie Coffee Table by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues. I would also include the Artek Table and some Alvar Alto's Chairs 69. I would light the space with the Link Large Floor Lamp and the Saturnia Lamp overhead.

Do you have a design philosophy that you follow?

Nani Marquina: Yes. Innovation, evoking emotions with our rugs, and connecting with people.

What do you see that's happening in design these days that excites you?

Nani Marquina: Nowadays people know a lot more about design, so they are more involved with it. They know what they want - quality and durability. Also, handicraft techniques are increasing, which is good news.

What's your favorite design shop in Spain or abroad?

Nani Marquina: In Spain, one of my favorite design shops is VINÇON, in Barcelona. It's too difficult to choose my favorite abroad as there are so many unique ones.

Do you have a favorite place or city to spot new design?

Nani Marquina: Tokyo.

What's your favorite design hotel?

Nani Marquina: The Casa Camper, in Barcelona.

What is the current design scene like in Spain?

Nani Marquina: Spanish design has experienced a great evolution since the 1980s; there are a lot of furniture, lighting, and decorative elements now. Companies are trying to be more focused on design and more competitive, which allows them to be in the international market. Spanish design is experiencing great growth.

By Jennifer Bush


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