AOO likes things done here, local production, daily things and the anonymous. The lively character of its two founders Marc Morro and Oriol Villar led them to create this study that was born from the embryonic project Otrascosas of Villar-Rosas. AOO works in its own collections and in the development of projects with other companies.
Image: Carles Carabí.
I met Uri (Oriol Villar) working in his agency Villar-Rosás almost 10 years ago, I (Marc Morro) entered as an object designer. From the beginning, Uri was always talking about doing other things beyond advertising, doing other things, doing other things …
After a few years at the agency, we had a free level, so Uri proposed to me to do there anything but nothing related to publicity, and thus was born Othercosas de Villar-Rosás, which became a place where we did from exhibitions, installations, concerts with food, bread workshops, talks, etc. to bring people from different parts of Europe to teach us, always something that did not have to do with publicity, other things!
We liked to say that somehow we were “practically a design gallery”, since the theme, because of my professional imperfection, was almost always in the object world.
‘AOO is in some way the other things of Oriol Villar, because he is still a publicist, and my things and my other things togethers’, says Marc Morro
After a few years teaching the things we liked, Othercosas de Villar-Rosàs closed (simply the projects finished and it came to an end), Villar-Rosàs dissolved a short time afterwards and Uri and I decided that after dedicating ourselves to teach what we liked, it was time to do what we liked, and so AOO was born.
We play with the acronym because it seems to us that it has a less determinant and more ambiguous meaning, which allows us to take it wherever we want. AOO is basically now and above all a furniture publisher. They are in some way the other things of Oriol Villar, because he is still a publicist, and my things and my other things together, we could say.
Uri was my boss at first but over time I like to say he has become more a kind of patron. He is engaged in advertising, currently working for brands like Estrella Damm or Casa Tarradellas, among others, and on the other hand he has bet on AOO with me at the front. Uri is a restless person, the typical person who would love to have 30 lives to do two hundred things and projects in each one, and he would really do it if he could have them.
Bravo stool. Image: AOO.
Marc, tell us about your experience in New York.
I was in New York in 2006, from January to November. I left just after finishing my studies in Barcelona. I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I had to master English at one hundred percent and spend some time working in whatever it was, while I was seeing exactly what interested me more in the world of the object.
I spent a year studying English there, living in houses where you entered showing your portfolio of work, more than your personality, living like this with more than ten people at a time where they were all photographers, designers, artists, musicians, architects, etc. Kind of a “mad house”, but very fun.
It was definitely a very good experience, and I think it should be compulsory for anyone. I’m from Mallorca and I went to Barcelona to study, which is already a step, but going to a place so far from your culture for a while is something more than recommended. And of course speaking English has opened me more doors throughout my professional life than to have studied 4 years of a design career for example.
‘It is clear that the strengh of this country is not by far the education, and in terms of schools of design, the ones I closely know at least, are especially very little interesting’
Marc, What are you doing at Elisava, the Barcelona School of Design and Engineering? What has the world of teaching given to your work in the studio?Do the work of the studio and that of the university complement in some way or are they two totally separate worlds? How do you see the design in universities and schools of arts? What do you think is being well done and what should be improved?
I do not do anything anymore In Elisava, I spent some time teaching, quite a few years in fact. One day I realized that it was not giving me anything, so I stopped being interested and I suppose I stopped being interesting to them too. If someday an educational plan is interesting to me, I may come back, but it is not my great passion.
It is clear that the strengh of this country is not by far the education, and in terms of schools of design, the ones I closely know at least, are especially very little interesting. Prioritizing the amount of students and the money this gives above the quality and interest seems to me little interesting educationally. What I can most recommend to someone who wants to study design of some kind is to go abroad to do it.
Marc Marra in the studio. Image: Carles Carabí.
We found something very interesting that you wrote on your website: “We like things done here, it is what makes sense for us; Sometimes made by ourselves, by artisans or by local manufacturers. “Why does this make more sense? And why do you give so much importance to local production?
Well, it’s simply what makes the most sense to us, is the most logical.
I understand that you go away to do something that nobody does in your city or country, that may make sense, although in that case it would also make sense not to do so.
What seems a nonsense to me is to go thousands of miles to produce something that you can do as good or even better here, and then bring it here, with the only excuse that doing it elsewhere is “cheaper”. What we get this way is that they stop doing things here, and we lose the professionals of “know-how.” There will come a time when we will not know how to do anything, and that will happen. Maybe those who do things to you thousands of miles away will decide to make them at the same price they were made here, and you will not have another choice because here nobody will do anything anymore. It is not the only one, but it is one of the reasons why we believe that doing things on your place makes more sense.
‘We like to think of ordinary and anonymous as two very positive words, indeed, we believe they are’
Hammock Pepe manufactured locally by AOO. Image: AOO.
The purpose of AOO is the design of ordinary, functional, anonymous and everyday furniture. What do you mean when you mention the ordinary and anonymous concepts? Could you explain this a little more?
We like to think of ordinary and anonymous as two very positive words, indeed, we believe they are. As ordinary we understand normal things, from day to day, that are there, that work and do not especially call your attention. That kind of pieces attract us, and without realizing we see that we try to transmit it to ours. The anonymity is something more aspirational; the same things as ever, what has always been there because it works, because it is useful, and therefore beautiful, what has turned to be of the “people” and it is no longer of anyone we could say, it has no author (although it surely had it at the time). Such everyday objects are often the most interesting.
What does More with Less it mean to you? Is it reflected in your work?
With More with Less I understand to contribute more than what is supposed to do, in any aspect of life. Taken to the object world I can understand a simple object, both in its forms and in its production, but with a great functional capacity. I find it very aspirational if you have it as something present when it comes to doing something, but pretentious if it is aimed, or if one thinks it does. We, more than ‘more with less’ we are ‘more or less’.