Spotlight on Spanish Design with the Madrid Design Festival

Last month, we were pleased to join a group of international journalists and festival producers for a visit to the Madrid Design Festival. Now in its seventh year, the MDF turns the city of Madrid into the largest possible showcase for the work of great local, national, and international designers from February-March.

With its motto “redesigning the world”, MDF promotes design as a tool capable of providing a new look at the problems and circumstances that mark our daily lives; it brings design into dialogue with disciplines ranging from science, fashion, music, art and craftsmanship, and explores societal issues such as depopulation and loneliness among young people. Exhibitions, installations and meetings with leading figures in design took center stage and we were honored to participate.

Some of the highlights included:

A retrospective exhibition on Miguel Milá, one of Spain’s most influential industrial designers, and dinner with his family was first on the tour. Milá, at the young age of 93, has been influencing design for decades  with iconic pieces such as the Cesta (1962), TMM and TMC (1961) lamps. Milá applied his craft to many household objects, making the ordinary beautiful and more functional. There’s a wonderful documentary about this prolific designer here.


One of Madrid’s most talked about new restaurants which just opened last November is Espace TRAMO, and we were treated to a private tour with the owner and architects. This project is the second initiative by Proyectos Conscientes who seeks to redefine the concept of urban recreation and to promote responsible consumption. The owners place equal importance on architecture, design, gastronomy and social responsibility, and what they’ve created is pretty spectacular.

With the circular economy and environmental responsibility all top of mind, much of the design/construction used materials and elements from the pre-existing structure which was an industrial garage from the 1950s. Recycled wood , for example, has been used to make seat backs, doors or bathroom fronts, and the sand resulting from demolition has been used to make the plates. If you find yourself in Madrid, we highly recommend that you make a point to experience it yourself! Take a look here.

Alexander von Vegesack, the exhibition organizer and co-founder of the Vitra Design Museum, curated this collection of 80 pieces from his own collection. Of all people, he knows his chairs!

“Chairs: Icons of Modern Design” is a tribute to human ingenuity and artistic expression, tracing the metamorphosis of chairs from their humble, handcrafted origins to the iconic designs that today reflect the cultural, social and technological changes of the time. The exhibition offers a journey through the history of industrial design from the 19th century to the present day, through an object as everyday and universal as the chair.

Gandia Blasco Group revealed the winners of the inaugural edition of the International 3D Awards, the first-ever global 3D creation competition aimed at artists and creatives, bringing together a furniture company with a 3D model platform, BoModels. Entrants and winners were on full display with photography that had us mesmerized.

We have all heard the expression ‘where the rubber meets the road’. But what happens when a tire has reached the end of that road and is past its prime for the originally intended purpose of transportation? Well in this case, the rubber meets fashion, design and state-of-the-art acoustical speakers!

The SIGNUS exhibition designed by Gianluca Pugliese set out to illuminate how tires can be repurposed into beautiful objects, rather than meeting the alternative fate of a landfill.
Rubber was reincarnated, putting the material to creative use through objects that transcend conventional boundaries, from avant-garde jewelry to fashion, design products and cutting-edge acoustic solutions — all possible through 3D printing with the support of the company LOWPOLY.

Now that is sustainability driving innovation!

We wish we could have stayed longer! With over 50 installations and exhibitions around the city, we could have stayed all month. BUT alas, all good trips must end. We’ll be better prepared next year to tack a few extra days on to our schedule for more inspiring design (and shopping). And more tapas!

For details, visit: