Interview with Alejandro Zaia, CEO of Marbella Design and Art Marbella


The world of design is one of the sectors with the highest added value and has the most dynamism in any economy, as it combines talent, creativity and high-level production quality”

ALEJANDRO ZAIA is CEO and Chairman of Marbella Design and Art Marbella, two art events that are planned for summer 2019 in Marbella.

The art collector and entrepreneur was born in Buenos Aires in 1961 and has lived in Spain for the last five years. With a degree in Political Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Zaia is also a communications and marketing expert and has founded and developed communication companies in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the United States.

His work in Spain includes founding Art Marbella in 2015, via the company Brambleton, which brought together around forty international galleries in its first edition. In 2018 he launched the first Marbella Design event. He also runs other exhibitions, such as the MUNDUS NOVUS Collection, which is based in New York. Zaia has received multiple international awards for cultural management.

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?

The 2018 edition was really a prototype for Marbella Design. This year the most important highlight is the new direction from Carolina Abril, who brings her experience in organising cultural fairs and events, and the value provided by David Jiménez and Sergio Sánchez, creative directors, who have designed an impressive space linked to a good number of designers and some of the highest level brands in Spain. The launch last year gave us an idea of how far we could go, and that’s what will happen again this year: we will offer a high-quality interior design fair. We saw the enormous existing potential, as Marbella is a location that is coveted by brands, designers, construction and property refurbishment companies, in a multicultural environment and with standards that are among the best in the world. This means it is a special place to create this kind of event.

What sets the exhibitors and designers who choose Marbella Design apart, and what do they get out of using this platform to showcase their work?

The designers, brands and artists who are taking part in this year’s event, both for Marbella Design and Art Marbella (the latter will be held from 30 July to 2 August), are well regarded on both a national and international level.

The two events have had an impact on and boosted the economy in Marbella over the last few years, and they aim to support a platform for all the exhibitors. Art Marbella attracts hundreds of international galleries, international press, and supports Marbella’s brand in terms of its relation to culture. The event creates a lot of economic movement, not just through the art sold, but also through the production, assembly, services and activities it generates. On the other hand, Marbella Design aims to recreate this setting in broader terms, as interior design attracts an audience with high spending power and also boosts the city’s activity in greater numbers.

And from where we are standing, in Marbella, there is also a nod to Malaga, a city that has a clear focus on art, and that has earned its fame through renowned museums like the Guggenheim, Picasso and Thyssen museums. In addition, the province not only offers an attractive area for visitors, but also provides economic activity with an equal collaboration from the production side incorporated in interior design and art, and other technological activities.

The world of design is an enormously dynamic sector, with great added value, not only in terms of the value of design itself, but also production, as there is an integration between talent and the workforce that is both strong and mutually rewarding. Producing design objects like furniture is a very important industry in certain areas of Spain, like Valencia and Catalonia, which also have a long tradition of textile production.

Design marks out a big difference between developed countries and countries that focus on production. This is what adds value to production that can be completed in a number of developing countries, and it is what differentiates one product from the next. We could say that the value in interior design and decoration lies in the designer, the creator.

 What are the main challenges you face when organising an event of this size in a city like Marbella? What is involved in organising these events?

I think the main challenge is coordinating and synchronising the countless sections involved in an event of this calibre: communication, production, design, staging, and so on, so that everything fits together. This kind of event can be compared to an orchestra that practices together for months so that everything goes well in the concert, which in this case will be two weeks in July.

The challenge as an entrepreneur and organiser is complicated, to try and make sure everything is harmonious and pleasant for the spectator and visitor. Later, logically, there is the staging itself: making sure that the participants come with their best proposals and that the audience responds to this and enjoys it.

Who is Marbella Design aimed at? What is the profile of the exhibition visitors?

Marbella Design is aimed at all kinds of visitors who want to enjoy a high-quality event for furniture, lighting, home technology, art, and so on. We suggest a route through the event, connecting with other people who appreciate beauty, all in a relaxed environment, that also includes extra events and entertainment.

Art and interior design; interior design and art… how do they feed off each other and how is art going to present at this new edition of Marbella Design?

Art always has a presence at our events, as we come from that background. There is a coherence and rapport between art and design. Our vision of Marbella Design, at its foundation, aims to include the very best interior designers with a solid artistic base, giving rise to creativity and beautiful results improve our lives.

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

As I mentioned earlier, we have gone from a prototype event to over forty designers and a similar number of brands, all of them prestigious names. We are producing an environment in which everything is a unique experience for visitors. I am sure that in the years to come we will continue to surprise, and that these surprises will probably come from technology, without losing touch with our enjoyment of materials, textures and colours.


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