Vuitton prize turns design student's world upside down

10th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Spanish design student Marcos Villalba co-designs Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window display.

10 December 2007

LONDON - Wearing baggy pants and a hat pulled tight over his headphoned ears, Spanish design student Marcos Villalba stands out among the well-heeled customers of Louis Vuitton's London branch. But the 27-year-old is no shopper, and staff smile as they greet the co-designer of the luxury accessory-maker's Christmas window display.

Pioneers in giving up-and-coming artists a break, Louis Vuitton held a competition earlier this year among 80 graduates from London's Central Saint Martins art college to come up with a design for its Christmas display, which is to be used in its more than 370 stores worldwide.

The winner was Latitude 48.194 / Longitude 02.286, created by Marcos Villalba and fellow student Chris Lawson. The title refers to the coordinates of the company's workshop close to Paris, and features a three-dimensional topographical map of the area surrounding Asnieres, made from poplar wood, used for the frame of Louis Vuitton trunks since 1854.

"The brief was pretty non-existent," says Villalba, "so we did our research and isolated the things we felt were the essence of the brand, focusing on travel, wood and Asnieres, the historic workshop."

Villalba, who confesses to having been a graffiti artist in a former life, says that the prize has turned his life upside down, with a long list of parties to attend. "It's all a bit schizophrenic. We were in New York in incredible restaurants, we came back in first class, and then when we got to London, we went back to Chris' flat in a housing project in rough part of town."

"More than computers"
Having graduated in audiovisual communication in Madrid, Villalba decided to take his studies further at Central Saint Martins. "A lot of people think that graphic design is just about computers, but it's not just about that. At Saint Martins they're not so interested in the technical aspects, but in ideas," he says. And London has given him plenty of ideas. "Swiss design is better, for example, but there are so many exhibitions, concerts, and such a mix of cultures, and I find that inspiring. A designer can't just be inspired by other art, though. For example, I listen to a lot of rap, and the covers of the records are, from a design perspective, horrible."

Villalba says he is attracted by "subtle design, which is hard to find in Spain. There is a tension between the excessively modern, the brilliant, the new, the imposed, and the old-fashioned approach that I find very irritating. They have taken the old tiles from the Madrid Metro, and replaced them with shiny metal sheets. But the entrances to the stations have bars that are based on old designs, and this in areas where new building is taking place."

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ BRENDA OTERO 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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