Christian Zuzunaga

Cristian Zuzunaga is a young, colourful designer. We first talked to him at his own brand’s small stand at the IMM Cologne last January. In the midst of the hectic fair we managed to find time for an extensive conversation, which we continued via telephone this summer. The Zuzunaga label presentation was mainly focused on the fabric collection. It was presented on the Pixel Fire Sofa, among other things, an archetypical three-seater that Moroso and Kvadrat collaborated on. Zuzunaga designed a family of pixel designs that give any individual sofa a unique look. The fabric collection is printed by Kvadrat and ‘confectionated’ at Zuzunaga’s studio in Barcelona. ‘We make high-quality interchangeable covers from the fabric. That way, no couch is exactly the same. The term “confectionating” comes from the fashion industry, the same way that I came from the fashion industry into the design world.’


Many layers of his personal history are hidden beneath the surface of his textile designs. Cristian was born in Barcelona in 1978, to a Catalonian mother and a Peruvian father. He was 17 and studying biology when he was offered a job as a model. Cristian Zuzunaga: ‘That was my dream job, it brought me to catwalks all over the world. New York, Paris, London. One of the advantages was that I learned about many cultures and met people with different backgrounds. I’m naturally inclined to experiences like that, because of my European and Inca family. Two very different worlds.’ He decided to follow a part-time course in typographical design at the London College of Communication. In the end, he finished his studies with a Master’s degree from the prestigious Royal College of Art. ‘Another advantage of my modelling work was that I was able to pay the tuition of the Royal College of Art with it. It’s quite high for a foreign student.’


After some time, he traded one career for another. ‘I graduated with a language of pixels that behaved like cells. The similarities with molecular structures greatly surprised me. In a way, I returned to my old love for biology. I’m fascinated by the way a microscope can show you the smallest of elementary particles.’ He continued to expand that form language of pixels, dots and colours as his design practice developed. ‘The Pixel Fire Sofa dates from 2008, but is a principally flexible system that can continue to evolve. I don’t use the pixel as a decorative trick but as the smallest part of a coherent whole, which I can make small or big and from which I build series of colour compositions.’ Another remarkable element is his use of colour. ‘I like strong colours because they have a positive influence on our minds. I think my sense of colour, dessins and woven fabrics mostly comes from my Peruvian roots. I love the cheerfulness and unhurriedness of the Indians and often go back to family life in Peru because I need it as a counterbalance.’ The exuberant Cuzco pouf is a reference to the complicated geometrical shapes in the architecture of Machu Pichu. His Inca tables were also inspired by his Peruvian heritage.

Post Skyline colourways1
Post Skyline colourways2
Kvadrat Cristian Zuzunaga Skyline 72px


‘Nowadays, everyone talks about the DNA of a brand, the DNA of a company, etcetera. It’s an interesting comparison, but sometimes it feels a bit farfetched. For me, it all comes together naturally in my practice and my life. I work on prints, photography, sculptures, textile and furniture designs, all with the same DNA.’ Transparency is an important part of that DNA. ‘I think in relations and families. That’s also how I see our company: open source and collaborative with many disciplines that share a form of optimism and contrariness. The Zuzunaga brand produces a clothing line, espadrilles, swimwear, scarves, tea towels, lamps, tables, chairs and a line of cabinets. And if you pay attention, you’ll see our signature in all of it. It’s how we cross imaginary borders, create cultural bridges and make connections.’


This interview was published in WOTH issue No6 still available in our shop.