The Young Creative Duo Behind Castlery’s First Designer Collab

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We speak to Clara del Portillo and Alex Selma, a Spanish design duo who recently teamed up with local furniture brand Castlery for its inaugural designer collaboration.

What was the inspiration for your Bambu collection for Castlery Feat?

Clara: When we did our research for our collection for Castlery, we wanted to create something that is reminiscent of the Asian culture because we were going to create designs for the Asian homeowner. Even if the design appears quite western, we wanted to include elements that remind people of the Asian culture. The structure of our furniture, for example, includes cylinders made of solid timber and oak but they were made to look similar to bamboo structures.

Castlery Yonoh Bambu sofa chair

Yonoh’s collection for Castlery Feat is inspired by traditional bamboo furniture found in Asia.

How did you adapt this collection to the Singaporean homeowner?

Clara: We took the sizes of typical homes in Singapore into consideration. Castlery helped us a lot with that; they gave us a rough idea of measurements that we had to take into account. However, most of our furniture designs, even for other brands, are made for smaller homes because we realise that people are starting to live in smaller houses.

How would you describe your design style?

Clara: Our style is simple; we don’t like to over-design things. We like to keep it simple but take care of all the little details.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Clara: It really depends. Most of the time we find inspiration while travelling. We have some projects like the Bambu collection, which is inspired by what we saw during our travels to Japan. Other times we are inspired by nature. We don’t have something that always inspires us; we can be inspired by anything that is around us.

Alex: It also depends on the collection we are working on. One of our next sofas is called Grace and it is inspired by luxury and Hollywood stars – velvet is one of the main materials. So anything can inspire us.

Castlery Yonoh Bambu TV console

The design duo is known for their simple, uncomplicated designs with unique details.

Have you always known that you’d be creative people?

Clara: Not really. When I was starting to search for what to study after high school, I was deciding between something technical and something artistic, and then I found out about design. Even if I weren’t a designer, I’d do something creative like architecture.

Alex: It was the same for me. I have always wanted to study architecture or design.

Who are your favourite designers?

Alex: I love the Bourrellec brothers and Konstantin Grcic.

Clara: Yes, the Bourrellec brothers are really one of our favourites. And we also love Naoto Fukasawa’s works. These designers create pieces that are very simple but original.

Castlery Yonoh design studio

Not limiting themselves to furniture design, Clare and Alex have also designed lighting and porcelain tiles.

Do you have a favourite piece of design?

Clara: I have always wanted the Egg Chair designed by Arne Jacobsen and that is my reference piece.

What about something you’d like to design in the future?

Alex: I want to design a watch or maybe sunglasses because I love wearing them!

That’s very different from furniture design.

Alex: Yes because we always work in different fields. We are comfortable with every kind of design. For instance, we just finished a project where we designed a series of ceramic tiles, which we have never done before. We enjoy creating different kinds of designs for different kinds of items.

Clara: The most exciting thing about design is that even if we are quite specialised in furniture and lighting, is that we can approach any other field quite easily. For example, we have designed playgrounds and currently we are working with a US company that is making 3D objects. It’s really exciting that we can change what we do every day. It’s really fun.

Alex: We love to change the kinds of things we design. I think it’s good for us and maybe good for the company. Now we know a little bit about each field – we can do a lot of different things. This know-how is good for us.

This was adapted from an article originally published in the July 2017 issue of SquareRooms 

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