About Tomás Alonso
Tomás Alonso is a cosmopolitan craft designer born in Spain. His method, which might be described as "à la Castiglioni" due to its ideological simplicity, can be summed up as an intelligent morphological synthesis of a technicist type, which focuses on functionality as an absolute value and turns it into an idea for products which are quick and easily understandable into their constitutive elements. The very simple aesthetic qualities of his objects reveal the expressive potential of each specific material, which is also his main source of inspiration, conveying an expressive immediacy which makes his products universal and transgenerational. He uses both wood and metal in a sober, soft and practical manner, skillfully inverting the usual way in which these two materials are perceived: wood is reduced to very slender, squared, vectorial sticks, iron is curved, warm and colored. For him the boundary between art and design is never hazy. Even his publishing work, developed "with his own hands" in his big fully-equipped workshop shared with OKAY Studio collective of designers, never crosses that line which now tends to be rather vague and the cause of frequent, paradoxical misunderstandings.
How do you measure the success of a product design? Its usefulness, its beauty, its power to stand up, your relationship with it, the possibility of others emotional connection with it?
It is a combination of the above, which happens almost naturally when an object is well designed. A good object should perform correctly the task it is designed to perform. It should do that in the simplest way possible, which would mean it is an efficient and considerate object, consequent with its context. These qualities would make it useful, which would most likely make us have a long lasting relationship with it and eventually turn into an emotional relationship with the object.
Why did you design this piece in particular? Does it fill a lack?
I was attracted by the idea of designing an ashtray. It is a typology that it becoming almost obsolete, or at least less common. The context of smoking has also changed, I think long gone is the time of huge ashtrays with loads of buds, this one is more for a sneaky one after the coffee or with a drink outside.
What do you think makes a good design? What is the best designed product you've seen?
This relates to the answer to the first question, a well designed object should be useful, simple and consequent, 9 times out of 10 that makes it also beautiful. There are plenty of examples to list, but I would maybe mention the sake drinking glass from Sori Yanagi, or the Cité chair from Jean Prouvé.