Interview: Luis Alicandú
by / August 16, 2006


Luis Alicandu a.k.a. CacoUno is a former tagger who recently channeled his art and creativity into industrial design. He lives and works in Caracas, Venezuela and finds inspiration for his work in the streets of the city he used to tag. It’s not always pretty, but like he says, “I used to complain about the poor visual culture I could get in this city, used to be very negative, one day I stopped the complaining, and tried to get something beautiful from those images”.



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Petare mirror.

When did you decide to become a designer?
When I was a kid I used to say that I wanted to be a mad scientist or an inventor, that was my idea of a designer, that's the beginning. Then when I finished high school I started the mechanical engineering career because I though it was about designing stuff because of the lack of info, two years later I heard about industrial design, in a "Beyond 2000" TV show, an interview with Luigi Colani... and fell in love.

You're fairly new to the design business. What's the biggest obstacle for designers at the beginning of their career?
I just can speak for my own experience here in Venezuela. The biggest obstacle here is the lack of design-art culture, specially for local talent. Producers here take advantage of a bad copyright law application and copy anything they want, it’s easier and cheaper for them to produce already invented stuff so there is no designer-industry marriage. Another obstacle is it’s a low-tech industry, there are no water jet cutters, rapid proto, and just a couple of steel laser cutters.

Where do you do most of your design work?
Everywhere, ideas sometimes are unexpected but go to the beach, fishing and sleeping in a hammock for some days helps a lot. Then I do the modeling work at home.

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Orthoped vase.

Where, or from what, do you get inspiration for your work?
From lots of different stuff, mostly, places I love, people I love, their expressions and physical characteristics, recently I designed a vase that comes from my sisters’ twisted legs (thats why I called Orthoped), a side table with the expression of the eyes of the girl I love, and for some of my latest work Im trying to create beautiful objects from ugly or prohibited scenes I see daily, like a headless chicken (I felt like one in the early stage of my life too), Caracas ghettos, graffiti, insecurity and poverty.

Ghettos, graffiti, insecurity and poverty, that's not your typical sources for design inspiration, does that mean that, beyond form and function, your designs have something to say? Or am I reading more into it than I should?
You’re right, I have a lot of things and thoughts to express, and designing is the best way I do it. The beauty-from-ugly line came because everyday I used to complain, about the poor visual culture I could get in this city, used to be very negative, one day I stopped the complaining, and tried to get something beautiful from those images I used to hate, realizing that it didn’t matter how bad something is (a place, a person, an image), if you make the effort you can get something good from that, you only need to learn how to have a positive attitude, that will make you and yours happier. Design its my way to protest against negativism.

What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
When I smile because the idea arrived to my mind, it’s exciting, and when the people I love admire, smile with my work. I think smiles are a great reward.

How would you label/categorize your work?
Urban-blobby-meaningful?? It’s hard to categorize, because sometimes my ideas don’t look like if they came from the same brain.

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Graffiti chair and Headless vase.

Do you have a signature style? If yes, what are the hallmarks of your style?
No, I think I don’t, maybe in some lines of products, like the graffiti one.

Who are your favorite designers and/or architects?
There are so many...classic ones like Sottssas, Aarnio, Archile Castiglionni, Panton, and Jacobsen, some of the Design Stars like Starck, Rashid, Marcel Wanders, Campana Bros, Bouroullec Bros. And some of the new ones like Maarten Baas, HiveminDesign Studio, Guido Ooms, Rodrigo Torres...there are so many works I admire...

What item (PC, pen, etc) can you not do without when you are designing?
For the main idea I don’t even use a paper, just my imagination, I think a lot and visualize in my mind, and when its done I need my PC, with Rhino3D, to model and create the images.

Direct to PC, is that typical of the next generation of designers or just you?
I thinks its becoming typical, sometimes I just draw a couple of sketches to scan, but when I got the definitive form in my mind I can make a good 3D of it.

What's next?
To relocate... I really need to move on from Venezuela, I love my country, my people, but I need to be understood, to gain experience, to live my life, to travel... so many things and so little time...

Where do you want to go? And why that place, not another?
Milano, as soon as possible Milano. It’s a goal since I fell in love with design & furniture. I think it’s the best place to develop the design area I like. Not another? For now... I want to live in so many places... but Milano is my goal, maybe NY in a couple of years.

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VITAL STATS
Full name: Luis Alicandu a.k.a. CacoUno (Graffiti tag nickname, I used to be a graffiti writer)
Location: Caracas, Venezuela (until some nice offer arrives :o) )
Size of team: Me and Myself
In business since: 2004
Claim to fame projects: I'm not looking for fame, or money, just happiness.
Spare time: Fishing, video gaming, and design (yes, even in my spare time)

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MEDIA FAVES
Favorite website(s): First of all, my site, lacoctelera.com/cacouno, lorbus.com from a great friend and designer Lorenzo Bustillos, MoCo Loco (an everyday must-read), designboom, Wooster collective (street art), some sites with nice naked ladies ;)
What music is on your iPod or radio? Lots of Hip-Hop (old ones, already hate the blingbling stuff), Motown Records, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Miles Davis, Barry White, Dancehall...I love black music from all kinds.
Your favorite magazine(s): It's hard to get nice magz here, just get I.D. magazine, I love it.
Last or current book you are reading: Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung
Last movie you saw: Scarface for the 875,987th time... The World it´s Yours....


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