Born in the home of cava production, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Rifé comes from a family of carpenters and furniture makes which might explain his passion for all things design related from a young age. In 1994 he founded his eponymous and multifaceted studio that combines his numerous interests: architecture, industrial and graphic design as well as art direction.
Rational, rigorous and moving his work includes large and small scale projects recognised with international awards and published widely. His collaboration with the Vibia showroom perfectly illustrates his conceptual and sensual approach to design.
When did you decide to become a designer?
I grew up in a family of carpenters and the furniture business so design has always been something that was around. I suppose it was as I began to learn more, to find out about the great minimalist masterpieces that I started to develop a great passion for the profession.
How would you describe your style?
Detailed, rational, I believe in order and simplicity. There’s already too many unnecessary complications in the world.
The ‘new normal’ has forced us to re-think spaces. What has this meant for you?
It’s as if everything has to be re-imagined but what’s really important now when taking on new spaces is to bring order to where there is disorder.
Do you think that the changes from over the last year have affected work spaces as much as residential spaces?
We’ve learned that we need more outdoor spaces, more planting, more multi-purpose furniture, to promote wellbeing, better planned spaces.
How has your approach to dealing with clients changed?
With foreign clients we have been forced to communicate in a much more virtual or digital way. For better of worse, now I don’t have to catch a plane to oversee small details on sites in China or Uruguay, we work more through images and videos of the processes.
And lighting? What role does lighting play in all this?
Light is one of the most fundamental ingredients for transforming spaces and has helped us achieve a positive impact with regard to the ambience of projects. We use it to lend drama and stimulate an emotional response to spaces.
Do you think that brands are adapting well to the new normal?
I have the feeling that they’ve learned to create more with less.
With your upcoming projects, what are you most enthusiastic about?
Luckily I am still living my work with the fascination of a child. I still get as excited about the 300 room hotel that we are working on at Monterrey as a tiny apartment in the Galvany neighbourhood of Barcelona. Everything is interesting if there is a solid underlying concept and even more so if the project has a past that I can attach it to.
Can you share something you’ve learned about work or a life lesson over the years?
I always talk about artists that work in monochrome, with just one colour they can transmit so much. In design it can’t be exactly like that because more practical stuff is required but I still think that the great challenge presented by design is to simplify as much as possible to make sure that the essence of a space or a product is legible.