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Furniture has to always be functional, otherwise it's art. Furniture is to be used, not to stare at. Design is the tool to give furniture (in our case) a character, a identity.


Our latest 'In Conversation' sees the IDMCO team visit the workshop of Buenos Aires-based design studio RIES and go behind-the-scenes. Founded in 2015 by Marcos Altgelt, Segundo Denegri and Tasio Picollo, the creative trio have a mixed background in architecture and industrial design. RIES design as beautiful handmade furniture that's a minimalist aesthetic and based on geometric structures.

RIES' most recent collection entitled 'Alpina' features hexagonal structures that range in height, colour and size in the form of a desk, a chair, a table and a shelf. The four individual pieces were designed to relate to the spaces they find themselves in. The slim, angular design expresses the furniture not as volumes but rather as a set of vectors and planes in the air.

The Alpina collection is ultimately simple, deconstructed and combines a slightly retro aesthetic with a contemporary approach. The use of industrial materials and rudimentary tools in their small, garage-like workshop located in a residential neighbourhood creates the precise constructive details apparent in the collection.

LF: What are your backgrounds?

Overall we all have an architecture background as that is what we studied. Tasio has a more industrial design facet as while studying he worked at La Feliz –a product design studio– so before we met he already had quite some knowledge about tools, processes, and all that. Segundo and I had a more traditional training, we both worked at various architecture studios so I guess maybe the aesthetic of what we do in a way comes from that intersection.

LF: Have you always been based in Buenos Aires?


LF: Where/what did you all study?

The three of us studied and met at the architecture faculty in Buenos Aires University - FADU (UBA).

LF: When was RIES formed?

We started prototyping Alpina –our first collection– around mid 2015 in a small garage Tasio had. I had these idea of designing a furniture collection based on an open system that could generate different pieces based on the same shape. I showed the idea to both of them, they found it interesting, so we bought some tools and started working on it while still keeping our day jobs at our studios. It took us some time as we could only work on that on Wednesday's afternoons and Saturdays. After some months, once we were done, we took some pictures of it, and launched it to the world in January 2016, so that's when Ries 'officially' started.

LF: The RIES design aesthetic, the Alpina collection for example, is minimal yet functional? Has your designs always been this way?

Well, furniture has to always be functional, otherwise it's art. Furniture is to be used, not to stare at. Design is the tool to give furniture (in our case) a character, a identity. In the case of Alpina (and in most of the pieces we do) minimalism is present in the sense that there are not added or extra elements that doesn't need to be there. We like simple things.

LF: How long does it take (on average) to make a RIES design?

It really depends on the product or collection! Sometimes it can take months and other times it just happens really fast. In any way, because we work independently and do much of the stuff in house, a product is never 'done'. There's always an upgrade, a correction, however small it may be, it could even be production-wise. The process in the repetition of making one object is a never ending exercise.

LF: What materials do you use? Locally sourced?

We work with steel a lot. Basically the main structure in most of the pieces we do is made from steel. And then we use other materials to 'fill' in that structure, it could be marble, leather, glass. We also use plywood with plastic laminates such as Formica, and steel meshes quite much as well. I think that's one of our pursues, to explore on how to combine different materials. The majority of the materials we use are locally sourced mostly because of the logistics. However we are now looking forward to do more experimental pieces with some materials that aren't often used to make furniture, we'll see what happens...

LF: Where do you tend to look for inspiration?

It's such a cliché but inspiration comes from everywhere. You never know what is going to pop out an idea in your head. It could be an art exhibition, it could be a detail in an anonymous building, friends, an interview, food, a bike ride while listening to music.. One has always ideas floating in the mind and sometimes that ideas get a momentum when you less expect them to. I guess those kind of things act as triggers of something in what you are already thinking of.

LF: Do you have any personal favourite designers? (Don't have to be product-design based)

Yeah, we admire a lot of people. From the past and living. Office KGDVS is a personal favorite.

LF: When your not designing/creating furniture how do you spend your time?

Sleeping. Ha, no, just kidding. I don't know, we are all very young so we go out a lot with friends and stuff. I guess we spend most of the time drinking and eating with friends.

LF: Can you recommend any Buenos Aires for the IDMCO audience to visit?

Uhm, the Chacarita Cemetery is a place that the three of us can agree to say that we recommend visiting. It's the biggest 'public park' in the city and it's almost secret, no one goes there. It also has these underground paths, which are spatially amazing. Its a peaceful place, we often go to have lunch there when we want to disconect ourselves a little.