Manuel Díaz Cebrián, Artistic Director at Marbella Design


Our biggest challenge is to ensure that Marbella Design has a logical harmony, a melody, that visitors can understand and enjoy

MARBELLA DESIGN will once again fill the Marbella Trade Fair and Conference Centre with work by the most successful and prestigious designers and interior designers from around Spain.

Over 40 leading figures from the sector will some of the biggest brands in the industry, bringing different interior spaces to life with a clear vision, and putting Marbella on the map at the epicentre of interior design, decoration and luxury design.

Manuel Díaz Cebrián, Artistic Director at Marbella Design, is here to tell us all about the second edition of Marbella Design: its values and objectives, what the exhibition brings to the city and the Costa del Sol, the challenges in organising it and much more.

Marbella Design arrives for its second edition this year with a completely fresh outlook. How would you sum up the main values and objectives of this years event? What are this year’s strong points, and how does it differ from last year?

Marbella Design was founded from the unexpected curiosity that emerged from the beginnings of Art Marbella, the ‘sister’ exhibition that will be held this year from 30 July to 3 August. I have been working with Alejandro Zaia, the CEO for both events, for 10 years, both in Spain and the United Kingdom, and he invited me to take part in this new adventure given past experience designing fairs with him.

Although my experience and career have always had strong ties to art and culture (managing exhibitions such as Aztecs at the Royal Academy of Arts, Frida Kahlo at the Tate Modern, Tina Modotti/Edward Weston at the Barbican Centre, and much more), I think design is a fundamentally important field that is based, in my opinion, on a primary need for sustainability.

With this background and these values, the aim and spirit of Marbella Design is to continue to grow until we become a well-known and consolidated brand in the design, interior design and luxury sector in Spain. We want to become what the ARCO fair has become for art. This year’s edition of Marbella Design aims to put Marbella on the map as a reference point for international design.

What sets Marbella Design apart from other exhibitions or cultural events, and what value does the exhibition bring to Marbella and Andalusia in general?

In terms of the city, the Marbella Design fair is especially interesting as Marbella is home to the Golden Mile of interior design shops. Our first challenge was to make sure these shops and studios didn’t see us as competition, but rather as a bonus for them too. It is important to highlight that aim to work with them to create, among other things, a local and regional brand that places the city at the top of the industry.

Another challenge is to try and get Spaniards to believe in the exhibition itself. In Andalusia, and particularly in the Malaga region, there is a clear desire to achieve this, bringing together the vibrant soul and hospitality of the Andalusian people. This attitude, which can already be perceived throughout the region, needs to extend further afield, and at Marbella Design, we are working on how to achieve this. Encouraging people to learn, relax, criticise, and why not – to buy something too.

The line-up of interior designers and brands who will be featured this year include big names like Erico Navazo, Viteri Lapeña, Villeroy & Boch, Loewe TV, and many more. As Artistic Director, are you happy with the people who have confirmed attendance so far? Can you give me any more names?

This is a good time to highlight the work being carried out by Carolina Abril as Executive Director of Marbella Design 2019, alongside her team of designers. The brands and companies she is bringing to the fair (in addition to the interior designers, of course) are immensely valuable and prestigious names.

The idea of bringing together companies from the sector with designers provides mutual support for both. It is a way to ensure that designers place the highest quality pieces by different brands in an environment or setting in which visitors can better understand the product. This is an essential context for exhibitions like Marbella Design, keeping in mind, in addition, that the market in Marbella is a big draw for luxury brands and high-level design, given the strength of the city’s economy. This is even more true in the summer months.

As Artistic Director of Marbella Design, what are the main challenges when organising this type of event?

In my experience, when organising and managing events on this scale, one of the biggest challenges lies in producing and financing the event. Having or getting the means necessary to run it. Alejandro Zaia describes this in a very accurate and visual way: he says that the biggest challenge is “bringing the orchestra together”.

In response to this, I would add, given the role I play in Marbella Design, that another one of the big challenges is to fine tune the melody played by the orchestra. Without a melody, you will not attract an audience, they won’t understand the harmony of the song. The full orchestra at the exhibition needs to play a coherent and attractive melody. That is the main challenge for me: producing a logical harmony, a melody, for Marbella Design that visitors can understand and enjoy.

As an expert in art, design and culture in general, what do you think is the most revolutionary concept right not, in these fields?

Design and interior design, just like art, depend on the historical context in which they are produced. Currently, the industry goes hand in hand with technology. Today, technology provides us with specific abilities that can be used to overcome limits and take on new challenges. In addition, the sustainable and efficient side of the design is increasingly important in the sector. We live in a crucial and challenging time on a global scale. We are increasingly aware that our natural resources are limited, and designs have to be sustainable and friendly in general terms.

In my opinion, the use of reusable materials, designs that offer ingenious solutions for efficiency and sustainability, and the value and importance of new technology are the present and future of the sector, in the broadest sense of the concept, value and meaning.

For another year in a row, Marbella Design will be hosting Design for Life, which you are responsible for alongside Paloma Gómez Marín, to be held on 13 July. What is the main aim of the conference and what new aspects will be showcased this year?

Last year, the “Design for Life” conference played a role that was just as important and prominent as the entire exhibition. It was a powerful draw for visitors and managed to attract key international figures from the world of design, art and interiors. This included the director of the London Design Museum, for example, Deyan Sudjic, who I invited personally, among many others. The conference offered excellent academic talks, and they acted as a launch platform for Marbella Design. You could even say that they were the foundation of the exhibition.

This year we want to maintain the importance of the conference, of course, which will be attended by key members and experts from the community, but the idea is not to eclipse the exhibition itself. Rather, the goal is for them to be part of the event, so that they become the perfect addition without taking away any protagonism or pushing the work of the brilliant exhibitors and interior designers taking part in Marbella Design into the background. We also have several confirmations for the line-up of speakers for “Design for Life”, but we can’t reveal them just yet. There will be some big surprises that will be the icing on the cake for the new concept for the exhibition.

Finally, what lies in the future for Marbella Design? Will we see an exhibition in 2020 with even more new concepts and new experiences?

In the future, Marbella Design will continue to go from strength to strength as a reference point in the industry, in terms of everything we mentioned above. A very interesting and promising future awaits, in which the support and credibility offered by the entire Spanish public (not just Andalusians) will also play a very important role.

The aim is to create an exhibition that is different every time, but that has the seal of approval and depth of previous editions. The future of Marbella Design will set trends in terms of what is to come for design, interior design and decoration. We want to stay up to date and try to keep growing every year. We will usher in a daring future for Marbella Design, building expectations for people who are asking themselves whether or not to attend next year.




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