April 16, 2013
Genís Senén: "There are artisans who work with hi-tech"

Until May 19 you can visit the exhibition VVelles Arrels, Nous Dissenyadors that is on display at the Centre d’Artesania de Catalunya, in Barcelona. This is a compilation of works designed by ESDi students and graduates of the Product, Graphic, Fashion and Audiovisual design itineraries that aims to review the historical references to address future creations combining knowledge and innovation. One of the projects we can find is ’Xai’, by the designer and ESDi professor, Genís Senén. This is a project born under the local development in collaboration with the Association Obrador Xisqueta. This is a non-profit association that works for the revitalization of the primary sector in the High Pyrenees and the countryside in general. Their project has two objectives: to pay a fair price for the Xisqueta sheep wool and to work in the reuse of this sheep wool that until recently was considered an endangered breed. Therefore, the designer Genís Senén has created a product to enhance, promote and provide an outlet for the wool of sheep Xisqueta native to the Pyrenees. This is a carpet for babies between 0 and 9 months to play or rest and at the same time, it can be transformed into a basket with a bow of games. We wanted to know more about this product and therefore we interviewed its designer, Genís Senén. - How did the collaboration with the Association Xisqueta Obrador start? Two years ago there was a textile conference in ESDi , in which both participated. It was there where I met Vanesa for the first time, who is the director of the Association. Previously they already had an agreement with the Product and Spaces Usability Unit that was really helpful to get in touch with them and build a labour relationship. - What inspired you to create the project ’Xai’? It was a series of situations, from experimenting with the material, market research and the current socio-economic situation to the trip to the Lleida Pyrenees where I could see everything that permeates the spirit of Obrador Xisqueta. - What are the different utilities that has the carpet that can be seen at the exhibition ’Velles arrels, nous dissenyadors’? The principal is as a basket for home use, to carry the baby wherever the father / mother goes without having in each room a space dedicated to the child. This basket is designed so that the child can be stretched or supported over like a small armchair with different tilt positions, and can be opened and converted into a games carpet. It can also be used as a cot in hotels when you travel, or if you are visiting a colleague’s house for the child to have their own space. But it is not intended to be used daily or as a urban transport basket. - Is it difficult to combine craftsmanship and innovation? It does not have to. There are artisans who work with technology. In fact watches, boats and high-end cars with the latest technology and with the collaboration of scientists and engineers are made by artisans. It all depends on how the craftsman is. Nor must we confuse innovation with technology because innovation can come through different paths, the problem is that in the industrial world there are manufacturing processes that will mark how the product will be when it is released, for these reasons people often confuse innovation with technology. - What are the advantages of working with materials such as wool Xisqueta? Wool generally as a material, has many virtues: it is light but very strong, is fireproof, meaning that it does not burn and is a good thermal and sound insulator. Moreover it helps to keep the humidity low and if you step or bend it, it can restored to the previous form. The difference between wool Xisqueta and other wool is that it is thicker than other wools, which makes it suitable for felting. Besides, the main advantage is that when we are using the wool from the sheep Xisqueta we are giving a use to a waste, creating a whole system behind this material and protecting a species native to the Pyrenees. - Did you ever imagine developing a project for babies? Far from it, but ultimately the reason that convinced me to make a product for babies was the current economic crisis, since it is one of the few industries that has suffered less. Parents / mothers, uncles or grandparents always want their babies are fine. - Are there any prospect that this product will be marketed? Yes, I am currently developing the product and we are looking together with the artisans how to come out to market. But it is a process that takes its time.