One of his most iconic designs is a USB stick designed like the Virgin Mary. He also makes witty designs for everyday furniture and interiors. Meet Luis Eslava, the Valencia-based product designer who brings a touch of wit to simple, elegant everyday products.
He is irreverent, innovative and interested in experimentation. A self-professed “Farmer of Ideas”, product designer Luis Eslava has a long list of creative designs to his name. Born in 1976 in Valencia, Spain, Eslava completed a degree in Design Products and Graphic Design before joining Dos y Dos studio to develop furniture, graphic and interior designs. His career soon took off – he won the first prize in the third DISEÑO INTERIOR magazine lighting competition, Spain. Two years later, he joined the Camper Footwear Design Company in Mallorca.
In 2003, inspired by the experiences, Eslava moved to London to do his Masters in Product Design at the Royal College of Art. This was a turning point and it taught him a lot about his work and what he wanted from his career. In 2005, Eslava set up his own design studio in London. He is now based in Valencia, Spain and is inspired by the old city’s heritage and history.
One of his first successful products was the Maria USB, a USB memory stick in the shape of the Virgin Mary. The device was meant to be a “human link, moving away from the cold feeling of electronics.” It certainly reflects our propensity for pleading with God to save our data, especially when it seems likely to be lost.
This quirkiness is consistently reflected in his other designs. His innovative lighting designs includes BulbShade, a lampshade designed like a large bulb, the ‘Self’ lamp on the other hand is reminiscent of a tangled-up trumpet.
The ‘Face to Face’ is another lampshade made entirely of Velcro strips (a new application for Velcro, which took it out of the shadow of its traditional use in clothing) whereas the ‘Agatha’ is a stunningly elegant suspension light, the shape of which springs from “the concentric superposition of a triangular shaped modular base”.
The shapely ‘Armadillo’ lamp (2010) was inspired by the texture of the animal’s skin – woven, superimposed scales that give off a warm light when lit.
Eslava has also played with paper creating a collection of 100% paper lamps for Fedrigroni, the accordion-style design falling into place perfectly with the material.
Apart from lighting, Eslava has also designed furniture products for the home and interior spaces. The ‘Pussy Lawn Chair’ (2006), for example, is made entirely out of coconut fibre and seeds compressed with latex.
The Party Collection (2012) was launched with the motto ‘Don’t sit on it. Just enjoy it’. The modular sofa has multiple seat heights, adjustable sections and comes in several snappy colours. The seat cushions have a “secret mixture of foam and fibre”, adding to its sensuality.
In 2009, Eslava created the award-winning Paisley Screen, a modular screen with geometric, curvy shapes that cast an alluring shadow when light passes through it. The shadows turn into a design feature, turning a blank wall or floor into an artistic expression of shape and shadow.
Another of Eslava’s popular designs is the ‘My Mess’, a limited edition modular system created in 2005 for “people with tendency to disorder.”
The modular system can be strung in various ways to make a vertical hanger for clothes and shoes. It can also be used as a space divider.
One of my favourite products from the Eslava stable is the La Marrana (2008), an innocuous looking ‘piggy bank’ that is actually a water saver. The idea behind it was to save the water left in the glasses after a meal for watering the plants later. The snout of the pig doubles up as the spout of the watering can. Ingenious and simplicity personified.
Eslava constantly seeks new, everyday materials and tries to reinvent them in ways that are functional yet beautiful.
His redesign of the Velcro Headquarters in Barcelona is a good example, where he used the sticky material as a design accessory on maps, on lampshades and as part of screens, breaking the mould of Velcro being merely a clothing fastener.
From religious icons that help save data to piggy bank water savers, Luis Eslava brings a touch of quirkiness and wit to everyday design. With the charms of Valencia seeping into his work, one can only wonder what the ‘Farmer of Ideas’ is going to cultivate next.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer