Lua Garcia is a furniture maker and product designer based at the workshop, but she can also be found throwing pottery, working with leather and baking some show-stopping cakes! You can even benefit from her expertise by attending the Spoon Carving and Modular Oak Unit courses that she teaches. So how did she come to be part of the Blackhorse Workshop Community?
As with a lot of our members, a career change sparked a new direction: ‘Six years into working for a travel technology company in Brighton, I started looking for a short course to do in the evenings with the intention of finding a hobby; at the very least something that would contrast with my desk job and provide a creative output lacking in my day to day – something tangible.
‘I am known for spontaneous decision making in life choices, I went all in and enrolled in a BA in Furniture Making and Product Design at The School of Art, Architecture and Design (formerly The CASS) commencing the following week, with little or no experience in making, designing or drawing. Since then well – practice, practice, practice! I just can’t help myself!’
The gamble certainly paid off, Lua started looking for a workspace after completing her BA. ‘In 2015 during the third and final year on my BA, Blackhorse Workshop was recommended by my tutor. A couple of us got in touch and Harriet gave a wonderful tour to myself and Herb Palmer and we signed up the next day. I only ended up staying for a few months, then after riding out a short lived designer/maker identity crisis, I returned in summer 2017 and haven’t looked back since.’
Lua worked closely with Herb for a year or so before concentrating on her own personal projects, from a restaurant fit out in Brixton to a bespoke shelving unit for a private client. Where does she find inspiration in design? ‘I believe trends are important, it’s not a case of recognising sage green is popular and using it. Trends can be current or historical, whether it be a colour, material or style; you get to choose whether your piece is influenced by it or moves away from it.’
Lua’s design heroes and heroines include the architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, who she believes is ‘an often overlooked pioneer of the Modern Movement’, she explains: ‘We see more often the leading figures of the movement, especially of bent tube furniture, as Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Le Corbusier, however, Eileen Grey was also very much part of experimenting and designing with this, well before Le Corbusier. Her contribution to design in a time where there was likely to be many obstacles and rejection is truly inspiring.’
A significant design book for her is Just One Good Chair by Hans Wegner, ‘There are approximately 500 or so creations produced in the quest for the ultimate chair, only he knows and admits it does not exist. I see this book more like a love/hate story between a maker, materials and objects. Beautifully composed and very inspiring.’
In art she has found wisdom from Pop Artist, Richard Hamilton. ‘While I am not a super fan of pop art, I am a fan of Richard Hamilton. Something that stayed with me was a run of his paintings, there were four or so at the Pop Art Design exhibition at the Barbican in 2013/2014, they were quite similar and at first perhaps looked like a playful game of spot the difference. However, the message was actually that nothing is ever truly perfect or finished and there is always room for improvement.’
Managing work flow is a priority for Lua at the moment. ‘I have a few things on the go at the moment; I’m ever trying to improve, I’m trying to instill a strict one in, one out policy in order to avoid chaos in the studio, it has thus far not been implemented successfully. I have on occasion been called impatient :).’ Impatient or not, Lua successfully juggles a range of projects from the personal, shelving for her mum’s pottery studio, to corporate, large framed idea boards for the Google offices in central London. She is also developing a product range and a new website.
A question we ask all our featured makers, is what is the best thing about the workshop?
‘Ears. Working solo is hard at the best of time, were it not for the communal aspect of Blackhorse and the members being happy to lend an ear and offer advice, I think we’d accumulate many more mistakes. No man is an island and all that… I guess at Blackhorse, we’re lots of islands really well connected.
Also, the range of people the workshop provides a space for is great. It makes for a really rich community of makers, designer and thinkers and just all round amazing do-ers! Opportunities, the Blackhorse team know their stuff on what’s going on in the industry from funding opportunities to prospective client introductions and commissions.’
What does the future hold for Lua?
In all honestly, it’s difficult to tell, I often think “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I am definitely heading down the designing/making path still, I’m just not sure where that path is leading to. In the past I’ve been real hard on myself trying to define that end goal, but it turns out I get on with things better without that defined destination.