The things of life: Folch Studio

1 November 2018
In their office with huge windows in Barcelona for a moment it seems like they have everything: both powerful design projects and enough time for surfing and innocent side entertainment like the erotic magazine Odiseo.

Then it turns out that the work is 24/7, as there are five separate projects in the heads of Folch Studio, each of them with a character of it's own - from a travel magazine to a video production company to creative consultancy or a platform for design interviews that self-destruct when they're read 5,000 times. But why are we getting you in touch with Barcelona? Albert Folch and Rafa Martinez from the studio arrive as lecturers for the Melba Design Festival - a project of Complect Studio, which wants to build a strong visual culture with an exhibition and symposium with lectures. Among the guests there are seven European names from the various spheres of design (such as Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman or new ideas for a sustainable future by Space 10). They all come on November 10th in Generator: Albert Folch is the founder of the studio with background in science and an the team that created the interior magazine Apartamento, and today he is a designer with a style that eliminates everything unnecessarily. Rafa Martinez is his partner with previous experience in journalism, whose teaching position in Strategic Thinking in Design already tells you he is responsible for the brand strategy. We start a conversation where flower pollination means design, and an explosion in the office - just one proof that everything goes as planed.

The work space
A: We listen to music in the studio, but we cannot do it individually because our work is very explosive (meetings, calls, mails…) which makes it impossible to listen to music with headphones. If we did, we’d always be missing something happening around us. Some people think my desk is tidy, but I think it could be better. I always try to tidy it up, but I have the feeling it’s a mini chaos.
R: Mine is also tidy. Otherwise I enjoy a tranquil atmosphere, but tranquility means nothing is happening. So we look for a balance between chaos and tranquility. Many of our mornings are fairly quiet, and I like it, but I like to compensate with explosive afternoons.

The city
A: I think I could live in almost any other city in the world. But in the end, you end up living where you feel free and where you can define yourself. I live in Barcelona because it satisfies me. I feel comfortable here, I have an interesting social circle, and I can surf if I want to. And that’s important to me. This doesn’t mean my city hasn’t got things which I don’t like, but if I put everything in balance, the benefits of living here outweigh the bad.

The style

A: Explaining our style to clients is a kind of marshy situation. Clients are normally looking for big changes that will have a significant impact on the way they’re perceived, and that often makes them want something too complex. And for us, simplicity makes things more attractive.
R: We like a more austere approach, and we constantly have to explain this to our clients. Through our proposals and explanations we try to explain that something powerful yet simple often ends up being more attractive and effective. Behind our projects there’s always a strong exercise in conceptualization and a very strategic approach. By explaining the design process to our client early on, it’s a lot easier for them to understand our proposals.

The team
A: Every day we need to do small adjustments to the team to make it work.
R: We value talent, which is important, but also attitude. We always choose our team based on intuition. Portfolios and experience are important, but then there’s a matter of intuition. And we always try to follow it.

The freedom

A: Our profession does not begin or end with a project. We are constantly working with graphic designers, photographers, journalists - people who communicate - and we’re working 24/7. Sometimes, when you have more time or when you really want to do something different, something disruptive, you start a project that has a concrete relation to what you ‘do’.
R: By starting in-house editorial initiatives such as Odiseo and Eldorado, we have opened-up ways of exploring new territories, generating synergies and networking with other professionals.

The science
A: I miss everything about it. I always had the feeling that my apportation to the world of science would had meant very little in relation to the whole scientific community. I mean, we’re sponges that assimilate information, but there’s not a real margin for creativity with science. And I had a strong desire to be creative. I had the opportunity of giving up everything and focusing on design, and I took that chance. I think my background has had a big influence on how my work is right now. I will always be attracted by nature and geology and, even though I’m known as a designer now, the truth is I do not have a clear vocation. I love what I do, but I wouldn’t feel like I have betrayed myself if I ever evolved towards another field.

A: We both spend lots of time with family. And in my case, I have a hobby which is to surf. A connection with nature has always been really important for me, that’s why I try to enjoy it as often as I can. The last place I went was to the Pyrenees, the mountains, looking for somewhere with fewer people, a place to connect with nature in its more pure state.
R: It’s difficult for me to disconnect from work, but I try to. I have three little kids, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can. They’re the best way for me to recharge. My last trip was to Swissland with my wife and three kids. We were travelling and living together in a caravan for three weeks. It was an adventure, but we really enjoyed it. Like Albert, I love surfing. It helps me disconnect from everything and connect more with nature and a sense of freedom. But the truth is I do not practice it as often as him.

The design definition

A: To make it simple, a flower has a colour in order to attract an insect to pollinate it. Design is exactly the same. In the world of plants, the flower with the most attractive colour, interesting shape and accessible pollen is often the most successful. This kind of ecosystem also works for designers.


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