It is easy to get lost in the beauty and presence of the work of Camilo Andres Rodriguez, but behind the satin black textured surface of his work, there is a journey of exploration into the stages of matter and form, to bring out the beauty in the old, the rusted, and the burned. Camilo takes us inside of this process, and the landscapes that bring life to many of his designs.
Hi Camilo, Tell us about your studio, and its origins.
I studied industrial design in Colombia, and I finished in the UNAM of Mexico. Is in this multicultural experience that I became passionate about creating objects that carry a unique identity and display my fascination for pre-hispanic cultures and pre-colombian art.
My work explores the concept of imperfection and impermanence. My designs highlight this stage and its beauty as a reflection of our inevitable and continuous flux through life. That’s why one of my fundamental techniques is to burn the wood, intended to communicate the pass of time and erosion, as an inevitable return to dust.
What should customers better understand about your work?
My main objective is to inject emotions of acceptance and appreciation into the constant movement of things, alive and non-alive, align with a precise development of forms and shapes that comes from within.
What is your favorite or most influential book, and why?
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a book that shaped my perception of life and my work. It changed me. The beliefs about imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness described by Rome's emperor, centuries ago, are fascinating. His stoicism doctrine; has become a guiding force in my work. His words have made him like a mentor to me in many ways. I have one copy of the book from 1897 that I care much for.
What music set the tone at your studio?
Dependents on the activity, if it's for thinking, like cool jazz or classical music, or ambient. If it's working on the shop, something a bit more energetic live hardcore or dark techno. But when I do with fire, what gets me in the mood is cumbia!
Your products are mostly characterized by the distressed and burned look of the
material. How did you develop this technique?
As a means of communication, I adopted the burnt wood technique in an effort to bring a multisensorial experience to each design. I explored different materials until I discovered the Yakisugi technique, a Japanese preservation technique, three centuries old. Through my own designs, I studied this process and combined it with native materials, ultimately giving it a new identity. The process has been one of experimentation, where every day I learn a new facet of the material.
Where in your hometown in Colombia do
you go for inspiration, and how is this journey part of the creative process?
Nature has been an essential part of my life. I started Carm Works in Antioquia's mountains, close to a town called "El Retiro"; I used to stroll a few kilometers from my house to find some water streams where I used to sit and sketch.
When I return to Bogota, if settled down in an area close to the mountains called Majui. I hike this mountain regularly, and it has been the place for some of my short films.
Many of my filming and photography shots are around me, the forest, the mountain, looking to transmit the inner connection between my pieces and the Colombian landscape.
What is your favorite part of the process?
The creative process is more for me, a close relationship with the artisans and the manufacturing industry. Even the most accurate design or 3d visualization loses its power if it is wrong or inaccurately interpreted. Spending many hours in the factories or small workshops (all our products are finished by hand and one by one supervised and finalized ) guarantees the products' excellent quality.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I look to create a holistic view of my entire work, from the sharp edges of my chairs to the charred texture of a bowl, the music that I compose for my short videos, and the places I choose for my photos. Building this body of work with a more significant identity, always from within, and that comes from the same feeling, makes me passionate.
As a Colombian designer, what part of your work or process best represents the
cultural influence of your nation?
We have a beautiful history and heritage of indigenous cultures in Colombia. Many of these used simple geometries, primitive forms, and shapes to represent their daily lives. I celebrate many of these elements in my work, like the prism or "rombo," which can be seen in my furniture's upholstery.
What do you hope customers experience when they use your products?
I want users to see the beauty of imperfections in my work, and for it to work as a mirror for them to learn to love and care for their flaws like I do with all the designs I create. I feel grateful that many people along has been connected with me on this journey when they acquire one of my pieces.
What is the vision for your brand in the next years to come?
I want Carm Works to expand to other areas like fashion accessories and time pieces.
Share a few thoughts of what you like about being part of the Aztro community?
Humble to be part of a group of designers and brands created from around the world, creating such amazing and unique pieces. They share the pursue to communicate and express something with meaning and value. A fantastic opportunity, thank you.