This June, during the 7th Belgrade Design Week at the “Freedom Squared” conference, on the day entitled WIND (and for a good reason), the avantgarde Spanish designer Héctor Serrano presented his work and talked about emotions and freedom in the field of design.

Born in Valencia in 1974, he studied industrial design in his hometown before moving to London where he earned a Master’s degree in product design at the Royal College of Art. He founded his design studio in London in 2000. His projects (furniture, lighting, tableware…), which are functional, of unusual shapes and extremely modern, combine innovation with the communication of familiar ideas, in an unconventional and innovative way. He claims that every designed object should have two qualities: one is innovation which brings something unexpected, and the second is familiarity, meaning that the products should seem already familiar to the user, as if they were a part of the collective memory or experience.

The list of his clients includes companies such as Muji, FontanaArte, Roca, Moooi, Gandia Blasco, ICEX Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Droog Design, Metalarte, La Mediterránea, La Casa Encendida (Caja Madrid) and the Valencia City Council, among others.

For Serrano, freedom is about approaching objects without prejudice and preconceptions, and it implies a particular process of implementation of an idea,
which he presented in his designs, and which are a modern combination of innovation and familiarity. His extraordinary sense of humor is evident in his work with students, in which he has shown how graphic design can be used in modern activism. Multidisciplinary as ever, his studio is currently working on toy designs, installations for an internet company, electronic appliances, etc.

In Belgrade he presented his “New London Bus”, a project for the historic Routemaster competition for which he won second prize in 2008, and now he is focused mostly on educational and imaginative designs for children such as the Finger Puppets, Air Heads, Hand Puppets, Finger Tattoos for NPW, because, as he laconically said, “it must be that all designers start designing for kids when they get children of their own!”

Héctor Serrano is also known for his work with students. In his studio there is a section called Lab, which is a kind of platform for creative research, experiments, design of new concepts, which inspires reflection and a different perception of reality, which certainly has an impact on the creation of proactive design.

His studio has received numerous awards such as the Peugeot Design Award, the National Design Award (Premio Nacional de Diseño No Aburridos), second prize on the New Bus for London competition with Miñarro García and Javier Esteban and Designer of the Year 2009, award, awarded by AD magazine. The products he designed are exhibited in museums such as Victoria & Albert in London, Cooper-Hewit National Design Museum in New York and are included in different collections of the Central Museum of Amsterdam.

Héctor says he likes constraints in his work, because he considers them a challenge, they make work fun, and he attempts to use them as best he can. The most important thing for a mass-produced object is the material and the production process, and according to Serrano, also he people that use it, which is why his studio strives to design objects people can relate to in a special, human, emotional way.

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It was great for xarchitekten to be invited to BDW as Austrian Architects We were expecting a great time by experiencing all this different thinking’s on design issues. At first there was the road movie from Vienna to Belgrade: 600 Kilometers of flat land, an immense impression of wideness - like riding on a green ocean. Arriving Belgrade we were hosted by the perfect Organization and accompanied by very nice people of BDW. The most valuable element of BDW´s Performing, Discussing, Lecturing in the Theater, Visiting the Clubs and Restaurants of Belgrade has been the linking excellent thinking and facing experts coming from different fields of design as well as different regions of Europe. xarchitekten are convinced about the great role of BDW as an Place for multidisciplinary Evolution, therefore BDW is facing a great future. Hopefully xarchitekten will be connected to BDW again.