Whether Spain’s Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale or the sandy beaches of Catalonia – Marc Morro’s furniture looks right at home in either environment. Considered one of Spain’s most prolific industrial designers, he and his colleague Clara Quintana are certainly on the way up – and up for a chat at their Barcelona company-meets-store AOO.
The design studio, creative refuge, and concept store AOO hides away in a narrow lane in Barcelona’s Gràcia quarter. An abbreviation of the English, Spanish, and Catalonian terms for “other things,” AOO may be the main workplace of Marc, Clara, and co-owner Oriol Villar, but it looks so much like a home that many people ask if it is okay to come in and buy some of the things on display. What they find are stunning examples of Marc Morro’s beautiful, natural, and simple designs.
smart magazine: Ms. Quintana, Mr. Morro – you describe AOO as a “place where you can easily find things that are hard to find.” So, is it more of a shop or a showroom for the pieces you design?
Marc Morro: AOO is definitely more than just a shop – it is a small furniture company. While we design, produce, and sell our own furniture, we also have a small collection of different brands that we like to stock. Here in the store, we simply put all of these nice things together.
smart magazine: It still looks as if your own stuff and objects by other designers are all of a piece. Is there an overreaching aesthetic concept that links the pieces you choose to display in the shop?
Marc Morro: I like very basic things; they have to be functional and also beautiful. So are our products: normal, common, and anonymous. And I guess it’s very obvious that we like wood! We work with it a lot; it has got something to do with its smell and texture. Wood is also a very natural material and therefore close to man. But is it really a concept? Hard to say. I guess it’s more emotional than rational. Once you start to design something, you also begin to see the interconnections in design between your objects and those by other designers you like.
Clara Quintana: What we especially like about materials like wood or textiles is that they stay with you without getting old or losing their quality. Which makes you really want to take care of these objects.
Whilst Marc Morro’s “Manolito” bench was showered with international praise at last year’s Architecture Biennale, his versatile “Pepitu” deck chair aims for terrace, balcony, and beach use. A pairing that, by the way, reveals a lot about the Mallorca-born designer who now calls Barcelona his home. And it says a lot about this outstanding city, which is as much a cultural capital as a place for a lot of beachside fun.
smart magazine: Among all the chairs, tables, and benches you show – do you have a favorite piece?
Marc Morro: Maybe the Manolito. It is our Swiss Army knife, as you can use it in many different ways. You can simply enjoy it as a design object, some people use it for their kids, others like to rest their feet on it while hanging out on the sofa.
Clara Quintana: A lot of friends have a Manolito at home because it makes a great present we like to give away.
smart magazine: It’s also your most famous design object, since 20 of it were exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice.
Marc Morro: Yes, and at the same time it is a good example of how we collaborate with friends: While the Manolito was designed by me, a friend’s company called Indoors is producing it.
smart magazine: Your designs tend to be very simple and bold. Does this reflect the growing DIY trend?
Marc Morro: I honestly don’t know if it’s a trend or not. Often you cannot see what really belongs to a trend when you are still in the middle of it – only after it has passed do you realize what it was. Right now, I am not really sure about it. Moreover, we at AOO tend to go to the extremes: Sometimes we like to make complex stuff, and then simple stuff again, and then we go back and forth because we get bored by one thing and then we switch again.
design shop & studio
Calle Sèneca 8, Gràcia, Barcelona
All images: Lars Borges