Federico Churba is a designer in Argentina whose philosophy is first and foremost to look at the world and learn from it. He tries to be open to discovering materials and their properties; he questions processes; he recommends getting physically involved and experimenting. Churba says, "To inhabit a space is to do more than occupy it ... It is to look, explore and inhabit." Not long ago, we took a look at Churba's Pluvial tables and Hanoi lamp.
How did the Pluvial Tables get their name?
Pluvial Tables are part of Once's first collection, for which I've done photographic research of the surroundings of Buenos Aires City, trying to learn its shapes and discover its language.
Most of the pieces are based on those trips, synthesized and transformed. Pluvial Tables' origin came from the variety of uses given to concrete water tubes in many districts without sewers, large volumes shaped as funnels, placed upside down, as a pot, as a bin, as a table structure, in groups, alone...
The dynamic of inner and outer, concave and convex result in a series of tables that can be inverted or combined to create different situations.
What determined the shape of the Hanoi lamp once you decided to use a single horizontal piece of thin Corian?
The idea of crossing the material, after working with different shapes, ribbons, etc. The conical shade that gives the lamp its major identity came out later, but reinforced the idea of a personal lamp.
Corian was specified because of its possibilities; it allowed me to produce the lamp easily on an industrial scale and is very well finished.
There seems to be an Asian flavour to the Once series of lamps: Faroles gives off an air of rice paper, Hanoi is a person bowing, Trígono seems to have a chopstick base and Bienvenida sports a hat-like shade. Would you say that this is so? What are some of the Argentine influences in your work?
Cool, I loved your point of view about the pieces! I'll give you a very local answer... Once is the name of the traditionally Jewish district in Buenos Aires, now populated mostly by the Korean community, so influences could get mixed.
Working with references is something I usually do, to explore the world and learn from it. Travels revitalize me and foreign countries are a huge source of inspiration. I have always been attracted by Asian culture, their elegant simplicity, and their aesthetic appeal.
Argentine native woods, hides for rugs and wallcoverings, and plastic wire are just some of the media you work with. What materials do you most enjoy handling?
Materials are to designers what letters should be to writers, I can't imagine someone preferring the R rather than the F! In some of the projects you've mentioned, materials were the beginning; I was committed to use them, explore them and their processes. Those experiments were really playful, an attentive and singular approach that preceded the creation of any lines and drawings, but I cannot say I enjoy that kind of approach better than a more rigorous one, with focus on the product, combining different materials.