Arturo Alvarez is the brand–and the man–behind some of the most conceptually beautiful handmade lighting designs on the market today. Each piece is handmade in a studio by local Spanish artisans. (As proof, the company even features videos of their fixtures being made on their website; check out a couple of them at the end of this post.)
Each design brings elegant artistry as well as brightness to any space, from the fizzy, cloudlike form of the Pili Pendant Light to the clean, woven Aros Pendant. With a minimalist approach to color, and an eye for elegant, impactful structure and materials, Arturo Alvarez continues to make waves each time the brand releases new lighting. We were able to connect with the brand’s namesake, a world-traveler and lobster enthusiast, about his design inspirations, philosophy, and his favorite things about his native Spain.
What were the early inspirations that lead you to your role as a designer? What about lighting specifically attracts you?
I was always interested in materials and textures. Initially, I was attracted to stained glass and that was the origin of an experimentation process that has lasted to this day. My only goal at the beginning was to express shapes, using light and lamps as a vehicle to do so. I have always loved doing things with my hands using common, ordinary materials. What attracts me to illumination is the interaction of lights and shadows, the ability to create beautiful, yet simple and functional objects that create emotion or awaken positive reactions and feelings.
How does your Spanish heritage play into the designs and brand philosophy?
Spanish culture is part of the place where I was born and raised, therefore it is within me. However, another important point of reference is nature, travel to other countries, even life itself. I have never liked referring to a single source of influence. I believe a person is a sum of experiences and all of them somehow are present in that individual’s work.
As its namesake, what role do you play in the company? How did you envision the company when you began it? How has the brand changed since then?
Currently I’m the creative director and main designer. I did not imagine creating a company when I was young and more reckless. I simply had concerns and ideas, which I materialized and sold. The company’s development was slow and steady as the projects increased in size and number. The brand started growing, consolidating and maturing. It has followed a parallel path to my own experience and growth as a creator.
What are the core values of Arturo Alvarez, the company?
We make emotional pieces, handmade by people who place their experience as well as their hearts into each object.
Many pieces from the brand beautifully walk the line between fine art and home furnishing. Where do you does the inspiration for this sophisticated, refined style come from?
My initial thoughts aren’t sophisticated and refined pieces, instead my style starts with simplicity and expresses things in a harmonious, aesthetic manner. I guess that sensibility towards nature, animals and specially people is reflected in my work, which I like to think transmits an artistic sensibility.
How does nature come into the designs of the brand?
Many of my designs, or most of them, refer to nature. Organic shapes, with curves and movement, even angles or straight lines are a reference to nature and, in other instances, refer to a woman’s body.
I love how each piece has a handmade legacy, and the fact that you can see videos of the pieces being made. What inspired this tradition and transparency?
We believe there is nothing to hide in our process. On the contrary, people have to see the hands with heart that are crafting every piece, one by one. That is emotion, that is sensibility. There are no machines here, there are people who work for the benefit of other people, our customers.
What does the brand’s tagline, “emotional light” mean to the company, and you?
Emotional light perfectly describes us: sensitive people who work for other people, handcrafting lamps with heart that won’t leave people indifferent.
What do you love most about your company?
The feeling that we are constantly starting over; it’s very stimulating. We recently moved to a new and much bigger work facility, which is entirely illuminated by our lamps. The workers are illuminated by the lamps that they make themselves. What could be more exciting and motivating?
On the other hand, it is a creative company at multiple levels, not just design. It is part of our company’s culture to make an effort for each member of our team to be creative on their own, and collaboratively. I like to generate new things, concepts, ways to work…. It’s what moves me.
Finally, can you tell us some of your favorite things to do in Spain? What do you love most about the place? What are your favorite dishes?
What I most like to do in Spain is “live,” just as I like to do wherever I am. I love the rich nature here, which is diverse with a variety of environments: the forests, mountains, rivers and sea. My favorite dish is the rice with bogavante (local lobster) that my wife prepares. Galician seafood is a luxury of this area, amongst the best of the world. But I like food from all over the world, particularly Japanese or Middle Eastern cuisines. I love tasting typical local dishes when I travel.
Thanks, Arturo, for taking the time to speak with us about your amazing collection–we can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
To see just some of the artistry that goes into Arturo Alvarez lighting, here are a couple of making-of videos, highlighting the Aros and Nevo collections:
Lauren Walters is a freelance writer and marketer who lives in Sacramento. She loves good design, cooking, and antique stores. When she's not writing or moving her furniture around her house, you can find her out hiking Northern California's amazing trails.