Interview with Ximena Ureta

Winner of Graphic Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Ximena Ureta shares insights


Interview with Ximena Ureta at Wednesday 30th of May 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
XU : I've been working as a designer for 25 years and although my first customers were Chilean wineries for whom I developed projects related to wine and sparkling wine packaging, I have also worked in other graphic projects throughout my professional life, for example designing logos, brochures and annual reports, amongst other things. Some of my clients include wineries such as Viña San Pedro, Viña San Helena, Viña Indómita, Viña Errázuriz, Martino, Cono Sur, Spumante Limarí, as well as Concha y Toro, where I have worked on projects for 2 areas that are part of this brand. One is called Fine Wine Collection, which includes Marques de Casa Concha and Amelia, and the other is called Premium Wines, promoting lines such as Trio and Casillero del Diablo. In relation to the latter, I have worked in particular on Casillero del Diablo/ Reserva, Casillero del Diablo / Reserva Privada and Casillero del Diablo / Leyenda, to mention only a few.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
XU : Since I was little I have always been very fond of drawing with a pencil and charcoal. I like analytical and very detailed drawings. I especially liked drawing the human figure, in particular portraits in black and white. I soon discovered that pencils come in a wide range of varieties, from 9 H to 9B, I discovered the incredible smell of wood when you remove the tip and I became fascinated with the roughness and different thicknesses of paper. Then I learnt about watercolour, chalk and oil pastels, oils, acrylics and then, as an adult, metal engravings. I have always liked to make sense out of figurative shadows. I would find faces in locks on gates and doors. I would search for shapes in clouds, illustrate beautiful long dresses in inverted wine glasses. I've always liked to explore stains with my eyes closed, shed my consciousness when I start painting. Since childhood I have been a perfectionist and I am also very hard-working. My complete dedication to all I do is part of my discipline and rigor. Just to say that this laborious and silent approach to the things that I did earned me the nickname of “little ant” that my father gave me when I was still a little girl. My father was a lawyer who loved poetry, especially Pablo Neruda’s, our Nobel Prize winner for Literature. When I was small, I learnt by heart long verses and recited them just to please him. It was thanks to him that I learnt the harmonious music of the words. My father also loved classical music. Beethoven and Vivaldi took over my house at weekends. My mother since she herself had been a child played the piano and also loved to dance. I am not quite sure where the relationship with art and design surged from. I only know that it lives deep within me.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
XU : I have always known that design and art were my thing and I think that I was right.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
XU : There are several projects in my mind involving major challenges. Projects with clients that I should address this year. As well as personal projects such as "Paper Flight" which I hope to complete. I'm working on a project called “soundless design or silent design". I am very passionate about it. Designs with universal ideas that call for inclusion, which can be enjoyed by people from all over the world from different cultures including adults and children. Designs of peace, sensory and intimate, which convey tranquillity. That invite the viewer to stop and just to look. Only that. I'm happy with what I do. I like the creative freedom I've managed to achieve so far. I know that my clients trust me. It has been a very rewarding process. In the future I would like to bring together lots of silent designs and make it possible for them to fly.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
XU : Perhaps I could say that technological tools are very important but that nothing compares to what I can do with my hands.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
XU : The ability to empathize with the needs of others. When you make a project your own to such an extent that it becomes a vital necessity. When you cannot sleep until you find the solution so that it finally leaves you in peace. When you are capable of abandoning your needs for those of others.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
XU : A good design is an expression in itself, it speaks with dignity and elegance. Its resources are original. It should surprise and may even make you smile.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
XU : Because it can bring closer the relationship of objects with people.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
XU : I'd like to design for institutions around the world that promote a sustainable and inclusive society.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
XU : Bring together as many soundless designs as possible.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
XU : Talk less and do more.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
XU : These days I'm observing and reading the work of Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect of modest, ecological and sustainable philosophy. Pioneer in the use of plastic, paper and cardboard used in his works. An utmost master in lightweight construction. Famous for his innovative work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard tubes. His work with emergency housing as a design solution to house natural or man-made disaster victims is very interesting and creative. The simplicity that characterizes this great architect makes his projects magical. Shiregu Ban, paper, cardboard, and composition.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
XU : There are many talented people. I would like to nominate an illustrator from South Korea whose name is Suzy Lee. Specifically a book published by Editor Bárbara Fiore entitled “The Wave”. I am mentioning it because of its simplicity and also because of its pictorial and silent narration. I would like to highlight the subtlety of Kim Ki-duk, a Korean filmmaker who has made several films such as Bin-jip (original title), which means "Empty Homes" as well as "Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom", known as "Spring, summer, autumn, winter ... and spring again", I think that somehow his talent has communicated with my sensibility.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
XU : There are several pieces of work that have been important for me. I think "Paper Flight” is very special. It says a lot with very little. It is a visual poem without words, it has a sensitive and essential spirit. A fragment of liberty. A pause. A tribute to simplicity, to the fragile, to the minimum. The small interior space of a visual haiku.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
XU : They should look at the life and work of many talented people.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
XU : I think that I would have liked to be a singer. I love music. It moves me. I would also have liked to be a chef, ceramist, silversmith, photographer, costume designer, perfume maker, production designer, sculptor and filmmaker, but don’t worry – I am not frustrated. All is well. I am sure there will be more lives.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
XU : It is an energy that rotates internally. It commences soft and light. I think that it feeds from my breathing because they both march to the same beat. Eventually, one learns how to surrender peacefully. An inner strength that seeks light.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
XU : I've achieved what I have thank to all of those who I love and who love me.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
XU : I am a better designer thanks to my strength that permits me to overcome adversity. Discipline, perseverance, the mother of all things.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
XU : Perhaps my own fears.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
XU : When your projects have matured to the point that they can speak for themselves.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
XU : I am working on more pieces along the lines of "Soundless design" or "Silent Design" and I believe that I can make a contribution here. It is universal and multicultural type of work. An invitation to unconventional creativity and sensory exploration without frontiers.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
XU : To make things more agreeable, to beautify, sensitize, pacify, communicate and pause.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
XU : I guess to continue things as they have been done so far.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
XU : Design can beautify the relationship with objects. It can also make everyday life more agreeable.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
XU : I am working on silent designs. Visual spaces without words.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
XU : “Paper Flight” is the piece of work where I can see myself more clearly.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
XU : The use of sustainable materials which are friendly and compatible with nature.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
XU : I am sure it is turning more technological and I believe that the richness of the materiality of things is going to be lost.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
XU : It is relative, it depends on the size of the project, the structures of the companies, the equipment linked with the project, the number of markets round the world the products must go to and their importance.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
XU : Researching, looking for theoretical or visual information of projects that might have something in common or are intended for the same kind of public. Especially so that I can make a difference.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
XU : Perseverance, the mother of all arts.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
XU : Trends have never mattered to me. Nor do I know where my creativity comes from.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
XU : It is essential to represent almost everything I want to create, an incredible visualization tool. One can try several technical alternatives in just a few seconds. It optimizes all my designs.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
XU : Quite frequently Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, all my computers are Apple.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
XU : One is the "what", the other is the 'how' and the last one is the 'where'.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
XU : I would people to notice that there is an Eastern influence in the conception and development of my designs. Especially in "Paper Flights".

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
XU : I smile.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
XU : Someone talented and silent.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
XU : When I was 14 years old I had the opportunity to meet someone who made incredible sketches on paper napkins. We got the opportunity to get to know each other very well over the course of a few of years. For a long time, after dinner, came THE moment: paper drawings. It was my stepfather, a wonderful man, also a designer.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
XU : Books that showcased the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Friedensreich Hundertwasser and many others.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
XU : I suppose that just like anybody else around the world, working.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
XU : I’d love to walk down the beach with Theo Jansen behind some of his millipede animals. Hopefully, a gust of wind would come making us run behind his creations. I think it would be great!

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
XU : I don’t consider myself famous nor do I have problems with that.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
XU : My colours are black and red and if you could use a gold folium it would be just perfect. My favourite place is my home. My favourite food is Ramen, my favourite object is a LUMIO lamp / book.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
XU : Once while I was in a watercolour class I wet the paper keeping my eyes closed then dried a part of the paper still without opening my eyes and then posed the brush on various colours always with my eyes closed. I slid the brush along the paper and only then opened my eyes. What happened was surprising. Beautiful.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
XU : Music makes me feel harmonious and sensitive. It works wonders

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
XU : When I was small, it was very obvious that I would become an artist or a designer.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
XU : There will be fewer people as fewer children will be born. Humanity will be able to control diseases, we will not have so much violence, it has been decreasing over the years. People will work less. There will be new problems and new solutions.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
XU : No, it’s Ok. I don’t really know what else to say. Thank you.