Q&A: Francisco Gomez Paz

Francisco Gomez Paz: “The magic of beauty arises when one explores with honesty”

Already at a very young age, Francisco Gomez Paz felt the spur to create, developing an impeccable visual and technical language ever since. Curious by nature and inventive by intuition, the lighting approach of this Argentinian designer stands out for experimentation, formal freedom and an instinctive pursuit of beauty.

The Africa collection, his very first collaboration for Vibia, is nothing more than the crystallization of his voracious thirst for exploration. Halfway between poetry and functionality, Gomez Paz’s sculptural portable lamp combines cultural significance, richness of form and materiality, and high-performance lighting capabilities.

When did you figure out that you wanted to be a designer?

When I was 9, I had an experience that would build my path toward design. After being able to adapt a steam engine to a disassembled toy car, I felt the thrill of seeing an idea become real. Since I was a kid, my excessive curiosity about how things work and constant exposure to the architectural culture from my dad’s side led me to decide to study industrial design in Argentina.

Where does your greatest inspiration come from when creating?

My greatest inspiration comes from a constant curiosity, which acts as a compass guiding me toward where to focus my attention in the ocean of information. I let myself dedicate a lot of time to understanding things, simply because they fill me with curiosity, which enriches my projects over time and doubles as a foundation for new ideas to emerge. Plus, processes are also a great source of inspiration for me. In my workshop, which is equipped with both traditional and digital technologies, we are constantly experimenting and testing, which leads us to new paths and influences for future projects.

What is the part of the creative process that you enjoy most?

When I feel that I may have stumbled upon a strong or novel idea. At that moment, I experience a very special vertigo, similar to the feeling of discovery, which is electrifying and generates a powerful energy that allows me to make the necessary effort to make it come true.

How would you describe your approach to lighting?

Constructive and inventive. My main interest is seeing how the advance in technology can produce new ways of addressing lighting in order to keep pace with the evolution of society.

Africa has an unmistakable connection with ancient artistic practices and explores the essence of humanity. What inspired its anthropological silhouette, what was your original idea?

The first incandescent lamp’s movement was limited by its connection to the electrical network. Over time, lamps with articulated arms emerged, allowing for greater movement of the light source. The Africa lamp was born to exploit technological advances; thanks to the autonomy of the LED and batteries, it can freely slide along a work surface with no need to move any part. The challenge was finding a simple form that could blend into any space whilst displaying an attractive presence. The result was an anthropomorphic sculptural figure that reminds me of some ebony-made African sculptures. Hence, its name.

At Vibia, we recognise interior design as fundamental to the culture of wellbeing. Do you agree with this statement? What is the key to creating an atmosphere of wellbeing?

I totally agree. However, I am afraid I can’t give you an exact answer. I believe each person is completely different and how they find wellbeing in a space is usually very personal. I don’t think there is a universal way to create that atmosphere.

According to Aristotle, “the chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness.” To what extent do you agree with this? How do you find a balance between beauty and function?

In my opinion, beauty is something mysterious that blossoms almost magically when the right answers are sought in an honest and fair way. If the form is freely born during the process and not preconceived, there is no conflict between beauty and function.

If you could choose, what would be your one material of choice for creating?

I would choose aluminum due to its structural properties and its lightweight, as well as its surprising versatility in production methods, such as extrusion, sheet processing, ease of CNC machining, and its ability to be molded.

What travel destinations would you recommend to a fellow professional or a student of either design or architecture?

I think the most important thing is to travel to different cultures where you can question cultural models that you believe are unique and absolute. Doubt is fundamental to thinking differently.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation. My life is divided between two faraway continents: I spend one month in Argentina, and one in Italy, which makes me spend a lot of time on airplanes. It would be great to avoid that.

Can you share something you’ve learned about work or a life lesson over the years?

Following ideas that are not always obvious or have not been tested leads to a path that often has to be done on your own, since uncertainty is a bitter pill that not everyone can take. Design is an act of faith.

Something that’s never missing from your fridge?

A combination of my two worlds: Parmesan and a Cafayate Torrontés wine.

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