By: Amelia Roque / Photos Courtesy Aldecoa Project
What country are you from? First time visitors asked the artisans upon seeing the pieces in the ALDECOA Project showcased in Havana during the 13th International Art Fair FIART 2009 last December.
The question underscored the confusion at the unusually sober style and finishing of the wholly Cuban furniture, lamps and decorative objects that, for the first time, were located in a stand under the motto Art, Utility and Skill.
To understand the justifiable confusion, one must be aware that the predominant national tradition in furniture and lamps is one adorned with lathed turnings and finishes that have persisted through time and even new proposals that enrich or impoverish the final result.
Using essential resources, moderated lines and dissimilar colors, combined in good taste, ALDECOA offers an alternative for home and office furniture and decor.
Contemporaneity is the word
Leading this creative group, founded two years ago, is architect and master industrial designer Adrián Fernández, who presents contemporary designs at reasonable prices. Fernández’ reputation is well supported by fifteen years of experience in the corporations of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism and Havana City Historian’s Office.
A precept he continuously repeats to his students is that of French designer Philippe Starck: “Good design is less design,” in the sense that a great deal can be done with few resources. That is the criterion applied to the ALDECOA Project, which, between simplicity and measure, offers products with an unparalleled cultural touch.
For the production of their work the project has a modest carpentry workshop and a small pottery shop, in the home of the leading artist, located in Havana’s Aldecoa district, hence the name of the group.
“We understand the importance of the finish, whether in plates, small vessels or other pottery,” Lourdes Milanés, Fernández’ wife, insists about the search for a “clean” form in working with clay.
Both Lourdes and Adrián have solid technical and theoretical training as well as the years of professional experience and the ingenuity necessary for an endeavor of this magnitude. The collective also includes designers Orlando Jauría and Alejandro Pampín, Maray Pereda and Maité Duménico.
Always in pursuit of the novel, they are now investigating the design of surfaces like bottles and are weighing adding fabric to some furniture and lights.
As Fernández reminds us, design is one more element of culture, reflected in a range of values with different, and sometimes contrasting, tastes. To contribute contemporary productions in the best way possible means to be aware of the difference.