Originally published by Surface Magazine on October 8, 2020.
Considered one of Colombia’s foremost designers, David Del Valle has embarked on a mission to elevate his home country’s time-honored craft traditions to the global stage. The founder of product studio Tu Taller Design transmits a sense of Latin American minimalism in each object he creates, whether a contemporary take on the mortar and pestle or a sculptural table crafted from Barichara stone.
By Ryan Waddoups
Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Designer and director of Tu Taller Design.
Studio location: Medellín.
Describe what you make: Design furniture, sculptural objects, interior spaces, and lamps.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: A very important object for me is the Alfil Mortar, a mortar and pestle, or a traditional Colombian object for grinding seeds and spices, and an example of the Latin American minimalist aesthetic that I am to transmit in my designs. I’ve been able to exhibit this product in New York at WantedDesign as well as at the London Design Biennale in representation of what contemporary design in my country looks like. We’re currently modifying this product and contacting manufacturers to reach new markets.
Describe the problem your work solves: As a designer, I’m constantly questioning form and function, and I like to investigate how to improve them in order to simplify the manufacturing process. I believe that designers are also social beings and must seek to break business paradigms. Through my work, I consider design to be more than a profession, rather a means to connect the dots between the industry (large, small, and micro businesses) and people. I strive to improve the standard of living of my colleagues and the people with whom I work, and I believe that there’s a rare dignity to the opportunities that arise when we’re hired for a new project.
Describe the project you are working on now: We’re currently designing our first hotel, which is located in a high-end area of Medellín. It’s the first project in which we’re handling everything from architecture to construction and it represents a great challenge for the business, so we’re particularly proud of this project. We’re also developing the interior design for houses in the outskirts of Medellín.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: We have quite a few projects in the works, including the design of two luxury boutique hotels in Medellín, a few houses and a couple of commercial projects. In addition, we’re developing 40 new products for our gallery, showroom, and website, and we have already started exporting. We’re very happy about exporting in particular, especially after eight years of hard work since launching our own product line.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: The most important thing to have in a studio is respect and responsibility. Behind—or in front of—each position there must be years of sacrifice, passion, and love, coupled with a desire to learn constantly and share know-how and ideas with the team. It’s also important to have a strong desire to improve people’s lives through service; after all, designers are servants of society and we should never lose our humanity and humility.
What you do when you’re not working: I like to paint, play the guitar, and be with my family.
Sources of creative envy: Kenya Hara, Jasper Morrison, Naoto Fukasawa, Oki Sato, Alberto Mantilla, Andre Ricard, Bruno Murani, Marcel Breuer, Joris Laarman, Ron Arad, Marc Newson, Konstantin Grcic, Oscar Niemeyer, Maarten Baas, Jean Prouvé, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Benjamin Hubert, Joe Colombo, and Jaime Hayon.
The distraction you want to eliminate: Working from home is a distraction in itself.
Concrete or marble? Marble.
High-rise or townhouse? High-rise, but with a patio and a rooftop for enjoying the view of the city.
Remember or forget? Short-term forgetfulness, long-term memory.
Aliens or ghosts? Aliens must exist—hopefully it can be proven soon!
Dark or light? 50/50 combination of both.