Jon Gasca and his father Jesus Gasca are the creative minds behind STUA, a 20-year-old design house based in Spain. I tracked Jon down in San Sebastian, Spain, and asked him about his new chair, STUA's lack of fuss, and what it's like working with dad.
STUA is a family business. How did it all start?
Jesus Gasca, my father, started the company 26 years ago. He wanted to create a line of pieces that would be long-lasting designs. So he started the company by creating just one item. He invested time to make it work. Now this product is still in production, it is called the Deneb table, and it is one of our timeless designs.
What is it like working with your father?
We have quite a fluent relationship: we both work together on the concept of the piece we want to create. He works harder in the engineering side of the product, and I take more care about the styling. Sometimes we take brainstorming afternoons to see how we can do things, and all this time [invested] is evident in the design of the products.
I feel Spanish designers have a playfulness that's not always visible in our designers' work. Would you agree?
I believe there is a Mediterranean touch to Spanish design, and that makes things more natural, more fluent. We prefer not to over-design things.
What designers do you admire most?
Dieter Rams, with all the electronics. The Eames, they were from another world. The Danish, Finn Juhl and Arne Jacobsen.
You also collect art. What artists do you love? What are you drawn to?
Most of the art that you see very often are not my style. But there is about 10% that touches me. Usually it's works that talk about people and life. My favorite artists are: Michael Brogans, Wolfgang Tillmans, Christian Boltanski, Kati Heck, Munition & Rosemblum. You can see what I like at jongasca.com.
Your new chair LACLASICA is understated, as is much of STUA. Do you intentionally design understated pieces?
We are a calm company, we are not pushy, and our furniture stays long in the market. Maybe it is the way we do things—we want our STUA and our products to be unpretentious. We are very pleased with LACLASICA, because it's a design that is easy to understand, and it hides all the production complexity. I could say that we prefer to hide how things are made, rather than to make with them fireworks. Fireworks extinguish. Timeless design stays. We want to stay, that is our goal.
What is your favorite piece from the STUA collection?
I love the Nube armchair.
You live in Madrid and San Sebastian, but travel all over the world. What are your favorite cities, buildings, and museums?
I work in San Sebastian, and spend many of my weekends in Madrid. I usually travel to cities where there is a big design world, places where I have to work. I can tell you my favorite places in those cities. Paris: the art galleries in the Marais and around the Picasso museum are nice. London: Tate Gallery is my favorite, both Tate Modern & Tate Britain (take the boat between them through river Thames). New York: The Chelsea Galleries, MoMA maybe too typical, but they are good. The Noguchi Museum in Queens. Madrid: Prado for Goya and Velazquez. Reina Sofia for contemporary art. Milano: the shopping.
What are you working on now?
We are trying to communicate furniture in a different way. Usually furniture is shown though photos. But we are trying to communicate now through videos. There is a story behind every decision, and we want to show this. So we are launching some videos that tell the STUA story. We are also working to launch LACLASICA chair to the market in September.