In the field of industrial design, Marc Morro is one of the most outstanding figures in Barcelona. He was the spearhead of Otrascosas de Villarrosás, an art gallery where ‘things’ happened. He also created Surtido, a platform of industrial designers in Barcelona. He was part of Pecha Kucha and teaches at the Elisava School. About six months ago, he opened AOO along his partner Oriol Villar and Clara Quintana, a space on calle Séneca where he materializes whatever comes up in his mind. A few days ago we talked about him and his collaboration with Firmamento to release Surf Pepitu. We have interviewed him…
You have just presented the latest installment of the AOO saga, the Normales storage line. Are wood and craftsmanship key in everything AOO does?
It is true that our processes are usually handmade, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to produce. If one day I have a lot of demand for a certain product and we have the resources, I would produce series. With Normales we first make the drawings and then we produce them. Then I assemble them in the studio. We found a clear case of digital control technology as opposed to the traditional manual process of nails and hammers.
Normales is your most recent project. Can you tell us more about your other designs?
At AOO we have the workshop to produce basic, rough pieces, and then we have Normales, our more elaborate section, made with lots of details. We re-launch pieces like Miquel Milá’s Rattan chair, which in his time it was called Castellón but now we call it Salvador. We also have a selection of basic objects that are usually very hard to find.
All pieces by AOO have a name. Do you choose the names randomly or is there a story behind?
There is usually a story behind. In the case of Salvador, the name comes from the person that helped us find craftspeople and materials, which is quite hard because 99 percent of Rattan comes from Indonesia. In the case of Pepitu, the classic chair of the Barceloneta, the name comes from my partner’s grandfather, who’s got pictures with a similar chair. Manolito, which we produced along with Indoors, bears the name we always give to construction workers because it’s the traditional bench they use for everything: eating, reaching high places? As for Normales, it’s much simpler: the box is called box, the shelf is called shelf and son on?
From what you are saying, it seems that in many cases it’s more about product recovery than about creating new ones…
We like to recover traditional objects and we don’t hide it; in fact, we do not sign what we do because they are reinterpretations of popular pieces. What matters is not who made them, but their utility.
The AOO project is therefore a natural extension of Villar-Rosás Otrascosas, a space in an advertising agency devoted to exhibitions, workshops and other things?
At Villar-Rosás I worked as a creative, always in projects related to industrial design. That’s when I started Surtido, a platform of industrial designers that no longer exists. One day I told Oriol, my partner at AOO now, that I wanted to leave and he suggested that we created Otrascosas, a gallery where many things would happen. The project ended and the natural consequence was to continue doing what we like, to make and restore traditional furniture pieces.
You teach at Elisava and have run Pecha Kucha. How long do you see yourself doing what you do?
I think there’s still a lot to come. The truth is that being dependent is not what I like, but it is essential to do what I love: to re-launch furniture pieces, to design and to work in the workshop. I think I still have many things to do here, but who knows, maybe AOO ends up being a restaurant?
Do you also do customized pieces?
Yes, and there are clients who see the Manolito and ask us to do it changing a few things, and I do it. We also make customized furniture, especially wooden pieces.
We are sure some places in Barcelona already have some of your pieces?
Yes, in fact a big table at Dalt de Tot, the new Morro Fi bar, is mine. I’ve also made easychairs for a Club of Smokers on Enrique Granados and now I’m working on a shelf for a Lubochka store and on other projects for two hotels in Barcelona.
Can you imagine pieces like Manolito becoming a classic in a few years from now?
I think they are such mundane pieces they don’t have much to say. We do small-scale projects, sometimes I even feel embarrassed to say we release stuff because it’s just nothing.
What’s your main influence?
Konstantic Gric, he started his career as a carpenter. I love everything he does.
Your favourite hotspots?
Il Giardinetto, a place I go to because I love it and I’ve got friends there. I also like Bar Brutal and Morro Fi or anything similar. Poblenou, where I live, I love it, especially that blend of decadence and modernity. For example, in my building there is a store selling O-rings only. Where else can you find that? Besides, I live just 150 metres away from the beach and the Rambla de Poblenou is very close.
Umbrellas, tupperwares and small suitcases with wheels. I don’t understand these objects and I’d would eliminate them.
You can’t stop listening to?
Songs by Taj Mahal & Aretha Franklin, and the playlist my partner Clara plays in the store?
You never thought you’d end up?
Having my studio at home. What a mess!
*Pictures by Ceci Díaz Betz
*Normales picture by Jara Varela