Product Designer Tomás Alonso knows what he wants – useful things for the home that are also beautiful and meaningful. With his simple designs for furniture, lighting and other objects for the home, he is certainly on the right track.
Designer Tomás Alonso has a very clear objective: To produce long-lasting objects for homes, which are not just useful but “end up taking a place in the lives of the people that use them.”
This focus has led him to create products that are beautiful, innovative and consistently useful. Born in Spain, Alonso studied at the Royal College of Art in London and then worked in the USA, Australia and Italy before setting up his design studio in London. From 2006, he has come up with creative alternatives to everyday objects.
One of his first popular designs was the Clothestree, a modular clothes hanger that could be fitted together or even be kept separate, could be freestanding or hung on the wall and one that really looks like an avant-garde sculpture. The Clothestree is meant to be an elegant substitute to that chair in our homes (you know you have one!) where clothes pile up. Using a Clothestree lets you keep your semi-used clothes out while giving you some semblance of order, even though you have not really tidied up.
Alonso’s furniture designs have gained popularity for their simplicity and minimalist lines. He uses both wood and metal with equal charm. His early 5° stool (2007) is a bare-minimum seating system that is not meant for comfort, but acts as an effective temporary seating. In 2009, Alonso added one more piece of furniture to the 5° family – a three-legged trestle table.
The No. 7 nube chair (2008) is reminiscent of furniture from olden days with its bent wood Thonet-chair inspired design. The colours, however, and the geometric lines of the chair, make it contemporary and a design classic.
The A-side table (2010) is a collapsible table that “folds in seconds” and takes up very little space, which makes it invaluable in cities like London. Again, the emphasis is on ‘temporary furniture’ for small homes that may not be ready to bring in heavy, investment pieces.
Continuing in the same vein, the ‘A-frame table (2012) created for Japanese brand Karimoku New Standard, is a series of tables and side-tables set on trestle legs which can be folded flat when not in use.
I am intrigued by the simplicity of Alonso’s ‘Side Table for an Apple’ which is exactly what it is. A small round side table that can be adjusted up or down a wooden pole depending on the height you want it, with a little groove for an apple or glass of water. No fuss, just practical design that works. A new version was released in 2011 using an aluminium extrusion instead of the wooden one.
The Pond Table (2008) also has multiple uses with its pivoting arms which can be extended in various directions and configurations, making the applications endless.
In 2012, Alonso designed the Offset range of tables for Maxdesign. These tables have a gap in the centre that demarcates the working areas. The gap can accommodate a lamp, bookends and other accessories making it ideal for offices or the home.
Apart from furniture, Alonso has designed several lighting systems including the Bread Light (2008), created for an awards ceremony at the Design Museum in London where they wanted the guests to have “a little light-hearted dinner time foolishness”. The bread lamp was indeed made out of bread and lighting came from a low-wattage bulb.
The Mr. Light series is a beautiful range of sleek lamps designed around LED T8 tube light bulbs. Mr Light Junior uses the same energy-efficient technology but minimised for a desk lamp that can again, be contorted to your needs.
Alonso’s designs have included the award-winning Greenroom (2006), a modular system that allows you to create a support structure, a trellis of sorts, for indoor plants.
Also worth mentioning is the Stamp Cutlery (2010), a lightweight set of cutlery that fits in together making it portable and elegant for use whether indoors or outside.
In recent years, Alonso has also created store interiors such as the acclaimed designs for the Camper stores in Genoa, London, Glasgow, Thessaloniki and Santander. The tiled walls of the store are cleverly set, with different shades making the overall appearance very three-dimensional.
Tomás Alonso’s design studio may not have been around that long, but his designs over the last decade have consistently shown that he has not lost sight of his objective to create useful and beautiful products for every home.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Tomás Alonso