The Dream Workshop

In the creative process common to any design studio, a client states his needs and a professional makes a proposal to meet them.

El taller de los sueños –or Dream Workshop– that’s been set up at IE School of Architecture and Design in collaboration with the Hay Festival and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) seeks to vary the roles involved in that “logical” creative process. What happens if the needs are not really needs, but are undefined dreams or desires? What if the person launching that idea is not separate from the creative process but participates in it? What happens if the designer makes that “client” part of his inspiration and partakes of what the client’s work situation, whatever it may be, can contribute?

Four designers were at the heart of the project: Izaskun Chinchilla, Benedetta Tagliabue, RCR Arquitectes and Jacob Benbunan. Each one worked hand in hand with established Spanish professionals in different disciplines –cuisine, architecture, literature and paleoanthropology– with the aim of constructing novel wooden objects inspired by the dreams and needs of each of these clients.

Four results that were created, halfway between a dream and a work of art:

By Benedetta Tagliabue, based on the wishes of Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design and Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Thorne hadn’t defined her dream but she wanted it to be “an object with which to compete.” It was in her own home in Madrid, during a meeting with Benedetta Tagliabue, where the dream began to take shape.

The family of tables makes it possible to share a coffee, a book or some good conversation. And the waves in these tables are a subtle nod to their two creators, whose profiles are mimicked by the waves.


From Izaskun Chinchilla for chefs Juan Mari and Elena Arzak

The Arzaks, father and daughter, are a point of reference for contemporary cuisine. One day they imagined “a great cloud of utensils that would make it possible to have all the instruments at one’s fingertips.” Said and done: Izaskun Chinchilla came up with a lovely artifact to solve the space problem common to most kitchens. The device not only allows chefs to have everything at hand, but includes a window so that the diners can peer into this magic universe.


From RCR Arquitectes for writer Javier Cercas

More personalized? Impossible. This hybrid between a seat and a small table is adapted to the body shape of the writer, who asked for “a chair for writing and reading.” RCR Arquitectes gave him a designer object with sinuous curves, an air both futuristic and homey, in which to carry out the two most common activities in Cercas’ daily life.


From Jacob Benbunan for the paleontologist Juan Luis Arsuaga

When Juan Luis Arsuaga goes in search of nature he complains that these encounters are limited. For example the limits imposed by the different environmental spaces and conditions. He dreamed about “a portable cabin for enjoying nature.” Jacob Benbunan proposed a contraption that resembles a suitcase that unfolds like an accordion and converts into an improvised cabin just about anywhere. This dream made reality could provide an escape from inactivity and routine.


Each one of these objects is based on research about craftsmanship and techniques of treating wood, along with a careful selection of the different species that could be used and their characteristics and sustainability. There has been a scientific analysis of their life cycle so as to guarantee that these four creations respect the environment.


Photographies: Diego Sánchez / IE

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