LONDON – A rich offering of Spanish artisanal products has landed in Britain’s capital to showcase the pieces that often end up in the glamorous window displays of luxury pop-up shops for the likes of Chanel, Loewe or Louis Vuitton.
Acierta is a collective of 50 artists with a production center in the Mediterranean city of Valencia and moved its creative headquarters to London in March 2018.
“We serve as a link between the transgressive luxury, exclusivity and creativity from the world of fashion with a woman with a ceramics workshop in the middle of Valencia for whom a Chanel project is rather alien,” director Carla Sobrini says from the London offices.
Ceramics, hand blown glass, methacrylate and fiberglass are some of the materials that artisans work with to produce the bulk of the company’s projects which are ephemeral works that have taken pride of place in Le Bon Marche in Paris, Matches Fashion in London and Loewe in Madrid.
“The beauty is that these two languages come together and work in a very fluid way, we take all the good things from the craftsman and we take it to a global and luxurious scale,” Sobrini says.
According to the designer and architect, this approach is one of working with brands that “highly value materials and crafts” despite the final product being “reproduced by the hundreds.”
“It has an artisanal element that is somehow more human,” Sobrini adds.
Rafa Abdon’s hand-blown glass pieces have decorated more than 500 showcases by the diamond firm De Beers.
The Valencian artist fired up his furnaces and in just one month produced 1,730 delicate, glass spheres of different sizes that floated in storefronts around the world.
Trini Roig has also produced a whopping 400 ceramic pieces in a month used in store campaigns at Mulberry and De Beers.
The collective carried out its most iconic shop-window display with Spanish luxury goods store Loewe inspired by 1920s singer and actress Josephine Baker.
In total 1,950 hand-painted ceramic bananas, with resin and wood bases for the twigs made up the display.
“Valencia is one of the places in Spain where there are the best producers and artisans and specialists from different disciplines,” Sobrini explains.
“During the’ boom ‘of construction in Spain Valencia was ahead of the curve.”
“And when there was a slump in construction the different disciplines have been relocated to other markets, for example, ours.”
Sobrini believes it is important to have that link between the retail industry, with tight deadlines and rapid collection launches, and the artisan and local industry, where production runs on a different time frame.
“It is funny, that point of union between Anna Wintour (editor-in-chief of Vogue) and Trini,” she said in reference to anecdotal associations that are created in the development of some works.
“Working in a local way with people who have been operating in the sector for many years and with techniques that have been working all their lives also seems sustainable to us,” she adds.
Despite the challenges facing the sector, which has surplus in warehouses, collections halted and a staggered reopening, the director is optimistic and believes that the luxury sector will have “a little more strength and endurance” to withstand the crisis.
“People are still more reluctant to enter stores and so the showcase will be essential,” Sobrini says.
She predicts adaptations to the levels of sustainability, budget and a revolution for retail calendars which will affect future projects.
“I am quite positive, we are going to come back more consciously and all the bad things are going to be left behind,” she concludes.