This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Sometimes people wonder why we’re such fans of the New York Times (NYT).  It’s for many reasons, like the fact that they write articles about Basques from their own point of view, which they have given us in our almost six years of blogging.  Today, we’re adding another great article, from the International Arts section, penned by Stephen Heyman, to that collection of amazing articles.

The article tells us about two Basque designers who have joined forces to offer their services throughout the Basque Country, regardless of the borders that may divide them right now.  They are Jean-Louis Iratzoki from Saint-Jean-de-Luz (who we’ve brought up before) and Ander Lizaso from south of the Pyrenees (we believe from Navarre, but we weren’t able to confirm that).  

Along with the NYT’s journalist’s description of the project, the article is also a transcription of an interview in which Jean-Louis Iratzoki describes the source of the inspiration for his creations: tradition, sobriety, and the search for robust, well-built products.

The studio they work in is located in a rural, forested area (as can be seen in the video we’re including in this entry) near Azkain, Lapurdi/Labourd (on the Continent).  It’s a perfect place to “think” as it’s very close to the origins of those elements these two designers are inspired by.

In the interview, Stephen Heyman asks Iratzoki if he believes it’s important to be connected to both parts of our country.  His answer was perfect.  And it goes perfectly with the explanation Orson Welles gave more than 60 years ago at the beginning of his documentary on the Basques about just how little that French-Spanish border matters to the Basques.

For both my partner Ander and me, that border doesn’t exist. We cross it everyday. We speak Basque, but also Spanish and French. We work in both southern and northern sides of the Basque country. And of course the products that we design travel much further; they can be exhibited in Milan, Cologne or Chicago.

It’s a project with a vision of the country, closely tied to the earth, looking to come out to the whole world.  In other words, it’s very Basque.

We’ll leave you with the NYT article and a vide in which we can see these designers’ studio and a sample of their creation process.

The New York Times – 9/6/2016 – USA

A Designer Unites the Basque Country

Jean Louis Iratzoki checking the 3D scale model of a chair for Alki. Credit Mito
Jean Louis Iratzoki checking the 3D scale model of a chair for Alki. Credit Mito

In 2007, the French industrial designer Jean Louis Iratzoki opened a remote studio in a wood cabin in the foothills of the Pyrenees. His minimalist “refuge” has recently become an unlikely creative epicenter for industrial production on both the French and Spanish sides of the Pays Basque.

(Sigue)
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Jean Louis Iratzoki’s Studio from Jean Louis Iratzoki on Vimeo.

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