xavier mañosa’s reflections on light for marset
(above) xavier mañosa at work
all images courtesy of marset




xavier mañosa was trained as an industrial designer, although life led him to grow up amidst the wheels and kilns of his family’s ceramics studio. after a stint working in berlin, once back in barcelona he decided to merge the artisan trade of pottery with design, and in 2009 he created the brand apparatu along with his parents. back then, he was motivated by investigating materials and manufacturing processes themselves; he shapes each piece while leaving room for accident, for the poetics of the unexpected. he is a member of the latest wave of creators who merge designing and doing. his relationship with marset has yielded collections of lamps with clays and enamels that interpret new light effects. 

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
xavier mañosa during the ‘pleat box’ process, filling the molds




marset: what do you like about your job?


xavier mañosa: what I like the best is the immediacy. the material, ceramic, is very ductile. you carry the entire process inside yourself: design, production, etc. you have a piece of clay, you put your finger in it and begin. in one day, after a while, you can finish an object. I also like the magic of the kiln when you put the piece in it. you have glazed it and you guess at what it will become. the process is similar to developing photographs; when you brought the roll of film in, you had to wait for the result. afterwards you open the door to the kiln and either it’s great or it’s a disaster!


video courtesy of marset 




M: what is ceramics to you?


XM: I’ve done ceramics my entire life. it is close to me in this sense; my parents are potters. it’s very familiar to me, very normal, like something you carry inside yourself and it has always been there. to me it doesn’t have a specific definition.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
xavier mañosa files down the ‘pleat box’ lamps




M: what of you do your objects embody?


XM: the best thing that can happen to an object is that it has as little of you as possible. the less you are there at the moment of making it, the more the object is you. I mean that when you are working, either shaping or cleaning up or glazing, you have to touch it without touching it. you have to have a kind of manual dexterity. this also happens when I design: I try to touch little, to let things happen without intervening too much.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
different color pigments




M: what kind of light is beautiful?


XM: the kind that doesn’t bother you, and that’s really complicated. when I have been in a well-lit house – and that’s happened only a handful of times – it tends to be owned by a person of a certain age with a certain sensibility. achieving this kind of light takes time. it is an exercise in gradually filling the house with the lamps and objects you find throughout your entire life. and it’s not just the objects themselves that can help you but also how you work with them, how and where you place them. a beautiful light needs many factors to come together.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
‘pleat box’ spraying process





M: what is the light of the lamps you have designed for marset like?


XM: ceramic, which is a material I talk about a lot, brings a kind of warmth that is difficult to find in other materials. the white pleat box is warm itself, but if you apply gold, it makes even more of an impression in the space and generates a series of streaks. it manages to alter the atmosphere of the space through the reflection of light on the material.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
the designer painting the inside of the lamp with gold liquid




M: is the use of gold a luxury?


XM: you cannot try to apply gold to an object and expect this object not to have certain connotations. the brain immediately relates gold with a luxury object. then comes the price of gold. we use 16 carats with a sable fur brush – the animal with the finest fur around – because any other brush would leave marks. the gold has been atomised into a very fine powder which turns into paint when mixed with solvents. then it is applied brushstroke by brushstroke on white enamel. it makes the piece’s end price more expensive, but it confers a warmth which you would never get without gold.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
apparatu atelier




M: they say that the lamps you make are like jewels…


XM: in the sense that the process is very special. explaining it would take up an entire page. if I summarise, I would say that a piece that goes through the kiln four times, and in the interim it undergoes hand-polishing processes which last around 20 minutes. given that the same lamp has different glazes, you have to protect one side while you do the other. there are sprayed finishes and other extremely laborious finishes applied with paintbrushes; they go through several hands… and at the end, marks of all these manual processes might remain, which remind you what happened at what point in the process.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
‘pleat box’ suspension lamps at apparatu atelier




M: do all objects have a history?


XM: I like to explain a bit of what lies behind craftsmanship, the relationship that is generated between user and object. this idea that the handcrafted object is humanised, that the user understands how this piece was made, where it comes from.

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
apparatu ceramics atelier on the outskirts of barcelona 




M: what is marset?

XM: well, a lot of marset is… it’s pure joy! it’s taking risks and being bold. they are very daring. 

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
scotch club lamp re-used 

xavier manosa reflections on light marset designboom
the final results of the golden inside of the ‘pleat box’ and ‘scotch club’ lamps