Eugeni Quitllet tells St-W a tale of two cities, as he oscillates between the pace of Paris and the peace of Barcelona. The designer takes us through a day in his life.
EUGENI QUITLLET: Where do I live? Good question. At the moment I’m split between Barcelona and Paris, but Barcelona is home – and where my office is.
Wherever I am in the world, I wake up and go to bed at the same time if I don’t have jet lag: 7:30 in the morning, 10:30 at night. It’s not a matter of mental or physical discipline. I simply need to sleep well, and I like going to sleep early. If it’s Sunday, I might sleep in until 9.30 a.m., but I like daytime and the morning light – it’s fresh and optimistic. There’s a seasonal difference, though: part of the year when the sun is already out in Barcelona, it’s still dark in Paris.
Normally I go out to have breakfast. When I get home, I’ve changed my mind-set and feel as if I’m arriving at the office. I live and work in Barcelona with my wife and our daughter, who really inspires me. She loves to play and draw, and when she draws, she’s got this thing where she’ll say: ‘Don’t interrupt. I’m working.’ I thought of her when I made the tableware toy for Air France. Children were the client’s priority – and mine as well – because when a child is relaxed in the air, the flight is much better for everyone.
I like to mix family and work whenever possible. If speed isn’t of the essence, our kitchen is open, and people can drop in for a drink. In order to find ideas, we should be open to what’s happening around us. If all we do is concentrate, we miss out on a lot. One of my problems is a failure to distinguish between different activities. For me, a vacation is another place to work, but in a different way. Last summer I flew to California and met a guy in Santa Barbara: Neal Feay makes the most beautiful aluminium on the planet. I’m about to go back again, with the family, to work a little bit and have fun.
In order to find ideas, we should be open to what’s around us. If all we do is concentrate, we miss out
When I’m in Paris, I’ll grab a salad or sandwich for lunch and go back to work straightaway. In Barcelona, people go home to eat lunch, which lasts at least an hour and a half. I feel free in both cities, but they have different energies. After the speed of Paris it’s good to come back to a quiet place with nice light, where I can slow down and work freely.
Every idea still begins with pen and paper, but the quality isn’t the same as it was when I had no computer and made beautiful drawings. Now I just do a sketch so I won’t forget what I want to explain to my colleagues.
I don’t make models, and I don’t like having lots of pieces of paper around that could be something but are still nothing. I like things to be finished in my brain before we start to design; only then do I shape directly inside the virtual space of my computer. It would be perfect if I could link my brain to a 3D printer; it would save a lot of time.
Design is good, because it allows you to invent and reinvent your everyday life to make something new; nothing is here to stay. For me, design is an optimistic way to see the future: it’s a feeling of positivity into which you project your dreams and ideas about what you want to do. All beautiful things are in the future. When you’re depressed, you revisit the past.
I like things to be finished in my brain before we start to design
I finish work by 8 p.m. at the latest. We don’t like to keep working until deep in the night. We eat at home if we have our daughter with us; otherwise, we meet friends and go out for a meal. How do I relax? I sleep. I like to go driving. At the weekend I sometimes head to the sea, which is just an hour’s drive away. I relax when I work, too. I listen to music – a lot of electronic music and radio from Ibiza, like OpenLab – and go with the flow. I grew up in Ibiza, and electronic music was the only popular music we had. It wasn’t anything sophisticated, just natural.
I’d like to be able to read when I go to bed, but I fall flat after two pages. I like to read fiction, but I always envision the action, which makes it feel as if I’m reading somebody else’s film. I love to dream. I dream all day long – not just about other products, but also about other realities and other worlds. So when I read, I choose something really fantastic or get into a real-life story or philosophy – something I can learn from.