Art & Design
11 March, 2021
L’Atelier Óptica travels around the world to offer you the work of true masters in Barrio de las Letras and now also at our e-shop. We want to offer you exactly what you are looking for, pieces that elevate and accompany us every day. In this search, we prioritize extreme quality, which we often find is linked to high contemporary craftsmanship.
This is why in our selection you can find pieces made with care and respect for centuries-old artisan techniques mixed up with the latest technologies.
Contemporary craftsmanship places a statement that takes distance from uniformed production and design and seeks to offer a humanizing and individual experience.
For us, craftsmanship is the union between human sensitivity and nature and it helps us to understand that other ways of production and consumption are not only possible, but also necessary.
Today we want to introduce you to Aldanondo and Fernández and talk about these aspects and some others. Aldanondo y Fernández are true master craftsmen producing and researching footwear.
From their workshop, located in Barcelona´s Ensanche, they explore new ways of manual production on a daily basis, relating to a loyal clientele who know themself and also have very clear what they are looking for. They also relate to a different way of consuming.
Manual dexterity and passion for innovation are carried by them as a flag. Aldanondo and Fernández are defined by respect for what surrounds them, luckily for us.
I imagine that this question will always be asked, but it is a bit inevitable. You are both architects and you have worked together in this field, beyond your passion for both disciplines, do you find common ground with the research, design and creation of high quality footwear?
The advantage of studying architecture is that it explores many fields and makes us aware of everything and nothing at the same time. If we eliminate the magnitude and complexity of many aspects of architecture, in reality the work we do with the shoes is not so different from the one we did with a building, and instead, we enjoy the improvement that comes with designing and making our own product and to have full control over it. Functionality, the structural and constructive sense, and all the codes of design still there, although applied to a more controllable element.
You have a clear vocation for research in footwear, an attitude closely linked to design, how does your creative process start? From a question? From a sketch? From an idea?
In our first projects we tried to make the designs explain in some way the artisan construction process itself. Functionality, comfort and durability are unquestionable starting points, and from there we increasingly try to make more refined designs, so that in addition to physically lasting over time our shoes last in the taste of our customers. On the other hand, we also develop what we called our “laboratory” with more experimental and risky designs.
We are also aware about footwears history, and we are convinced that, consciously or unconsciously, it has had a clear influence on our designs.
What do Aldanondo and Fernández prioritize? Comfort or aesthetics? Is it possible to offer both together?
Aesthetics is, or at least we try it to be, the last of the factors to consider. Footwear has very high functional and structural requirements, and therefore it is our priority to solve them. It seems contradictory, but giving solutions to problems should be the maxim of any designer, whatever the field, “firmitas” and “utilitas” before as long as “venustas”
Do you have shared roles when managing your workshop? Do you think there is a feminine and a masculine approach to design? Do you think architecture and design environments are male chauvinist?
We both learned to carry out the whole process, but Ignacio finally is the one who makes the stitching of the pieces together. Curiously, it is a part of the process that has been historically externalized and relegated to women, with the consequences of devaluation and mistreatment that often go to “female” work partners.
We do not believe that the design has a feminine or masculine tinge to start with, since our brains are not sexed, but due to the way we socialize it is possible that women carry out a more silent and empathetic work, with more awareness in the people involved and in the sustainability of the product.
The environments of architecture and design, historically dominated by men are, like all of society, predominantly male chauvinist. Yes, we have noticed a change for the better in the field of crafts, where egos are calmer and where, historically, women have played an important role in the preservation and transmission of crafts.
Architects, shoe designers, craftsmen or everything?
We always claim craftsmanship first. We believe that there has been a kind of hierarchy (we would even say professional classism) between the trades considered “intellectual” such as architecture or design and manuals, but there really is a great cognitive development in artisan work, and that is why we vindicate that before (without denying them, of course).
How important is the sketch in your creations? Could we say that you create from the sketch to the piece?
We work a lot with sketches. It seems incredible, but since the emergence of computer design there are designers who do not touch a pencil, and we believe that it will never be a replaceable step. We also really like to carry out quick tests, in the style of architectural models, which help us to quickly see if a pattern works, if materials are adequate, etc. The great advantage of footwear over architecture is that we can personally make our products and assess how they work. Learning in this way is continuous and very fluid.
What is the person who wears Aldanondo and Fernández looking for?
Generally, the people who come to us discarting trends. They are looking for a comfortable and durable product, and also to be part of the experience of building their own shoes, which they can follow during the process. In general, the “how” is more important to them than the “what”, as they are often conscientious consumers who turn away from the ostentatious product and the world of the logo.
Many of them are women and men from the creative field, which, in addition to the above, often collaborate in the design of their shoes.
Is artisan production a statement?
Totally. Craftsmanship encompasses values and codes that are generally transferred to the personal and vital field of the artisan, and by extension to the consumer. It is therefore a kind of activism, in a world dominated by the most furious capitalism, to propose an alternative way of consumption, and a praise for the small, slow and silent.