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The pioneers of design furniture in the Basque Country star in an exhibition and documentary in Bilbao

  • This is a project of the Habic cluster, called 'Design Artisans', which focuses on the people who in the 1970s and 1980s turned design furniture into a new industrial sector in the Basque Country.
  • The exhibition was presented today in Plaza Euskadi, next to the Fine Arts Museum, where the documentary will be screened this afternoon
  • There are eight companies whose founders are the protagonists of the documentary: Akaba, Mosel&Arkaia, B.lux, Enea, Imat, Ondarreta, Sellex and Treku. A piece from each of them makes up the exhibition.

The Habic cluster today presented its project 'Artisans of Design' as part of the Mugak/ International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country. Consisting of a travelling exhibition and a documentary, it landed this morning in Bilbao's Plaza Euskadi, next to the Museum of Fine Arts. Next week the association will take it to the other two Basque capitals.

In the 70s and 80s, there were a number of people who opted for design to create an industry that did not exist in the Basque Country: furniture and design products for furnishing spaces. Now, the Habic project takes a look back at these people and the evolution of their companies up to the present day.

The exhibition, curated by Raquel Ares and Iñaki Albistur, from the San Sebastian studio Arquimaña, will be on display in Bilbao from today until the 16th. It will be accompanied by a documentary, directed by Ane Rotaetxe, from the Bilbao production company Begira, which can be seen free of charge this evening at 6pm. "We have collected in a very human way the testimony of a self-made generation, with a lot of enthusiasm for what they did and who leave a great legacy in the territory", emphasised Rotaetxe. 


The protagonists are the pioneers of design in the Basque Country, founders of eight companies: Jose Angel Diez Mintegui, one of the founders of Akaba (Usurbil, 1985); José Patricio Álvarez de Arkaya, who founded Mosel&Arkaia S.L. in Vitoria-Gasteiz (1962); Agustín Ibarretxe, founder of B. lux in Markina, Bizkaia (1979); Iñaki Elizegi and Mila Telleria, cooperativists in Enea-Eredu in Legorreta (1963); Jesús Guibelalde, founder of Imat (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1974); Marilis Galardi, founder together with Juanjo Arratibel of Ondarreta on the Donostia beach of the same name (1975); Andrés Muñoz, founder of Sellex (Donostia, 1977); and Manolo Aldabaldetreku, who founded Treku in Zarautz (1947).

"This project brings society closer to the people who created from nothing an activity that unites design, industry and architecture. This industry is present in the best buildings in the world and these objects are manufactured in the Basque Country", said Xabier Pérez de Arenaza, architect and head of architectural projects at Habic.

The exhibition, which explores the humble origins of these companies, is made up precisely of eight selected pieces, one of each, which are exhibited in custom-made modules that will be installed in the public space, the Plaza Euskadi in Bilbao. "In these urban environments of architectural interest, the aim is to generate dialogue between the public space, the exhibition and the objects themselves", explained the curator, Raquel Ares.

The pieces are the 'Gorka' chair, by Akaba; 'Pieza Única Nº 394', by Arkaia; the 'Regina' lamp, by B-lux; the 'BCN' chair, by Enea; the 'Máster basic' bench, by Imat; the 'Bob' chair, by Ondarreta; the 'Aero' bench, by Sellex; and a coffee table from the 'Gau' collection, by Treku.

Agustín Ibarretxe, founder of B.lux, and José Patricio Álvarez de Arkaya, from Mosel&Arkaia, will be present at the presentation of the documentary this afternoon. Both will speak in the first person who will then narrate the screening.

The Programme is being prepared