LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Samantha Chijona Garcia ("SCG") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

SCG : My art background is a mix of beaux-arts and music but it is also my family responsibility. My parents have work in the cinema world for years so the arts have been always part of my education. I began to study classical piano at the age of 7 in the Conservatory and spent 11 years in a conservatory, meanwhile, I also took beaux-arts lessons. When I had to choose the university I was clear I wanted to study something related to cinema and beaux-arts. I talked with my mother so she decided to make me part of a film's staff to learn how the cinema works inside. I fell in love with art directors and costume designers' work so I decided to study scenographic and costume design. One year after I was studying design at the Complutense University in Madrid where I spent the next 4 years. Until today, that was the best choice of my life, every new work reminds me how much I love my work.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

SCG : Since I was little I had been related to the world of cinema because my parents, a producer and another sound engineer, In my teens, while studying piano at the conservatory, I started taking drawing classes and discovered that I was passionate about it. It was so when I finished high school I decided to study a career that merged these two worlds and it was as I started with stage and costume design that 4 years later and until today would become my great passion.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

SCG : I have been always surrounded by designers and artists so when I was 19 I decided to study design.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

SCG : I love to work as a costume designer. The research related to the psychological and historical context in every script, in every character, the use of colors, textures, fabrics, is one of the parts of the work I enjoy the most. In the preparation of the movie and even when you are rolling already you always have time to take care of the smalls details to make the characters nearest to real life, nearest to us. I also work as an Art director but I enjoy costume design the most.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

SCG : I think the distinction lies in their ability to self-criticize and adapt, to listen and analyze, to go back on mistakes, and rectify. If all of this can creatively transform it and make it functional, then you are a great designer.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

SCG : If people take a design and make it theirs, if its functionality and use become it in an object that makes our lives easier or better, then, it is a successful design. The first four aspects to analyze in good design are functionality, usability, innovation, and aesthetics.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

SCG : The value of a design lies in its practicality and durability. Good designs, quality design helps us to make life more comfortable and simple, to evolve as a society and solve daily problems, it can silently accompany us for years, letting us focus on how truly important it is to make life an enjoyable path.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

SCG : I would love to be able to work and design for an English period series or movie and it would be a dream to be part of the team of Sandy Powell or Bina Daigeler, two costume designers that I admire and from whom I would love to learn.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

SCG : Years ago I had a 3 armor project in hand, the idea was to reinterpret with materials from everyday life, the classic western, Japanese, and Viking armor. Until today I have not been able to carry out that personal project due to work and lack of free time. This project work demands a lot of hours and knitting tests and trying assembling methods but it is something that I would like to do without a doubt.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

SCG : There is no secret ingredient, for me the answer is to work every day and try all the variants, exhaust the possibilities, colors, shapes but basically work, work, work.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

SCG : I follow and admire the work of many colleagues, but if I had to mention designers who have inspired me, I would certainly have to speak first of all about Cuban designers such as Vladimir Cuenca, Diana Fernandez, Carlos Urdanivia, Aramis Balebona, all great professionals in the art direction and costumes in Cuba. At the international level, I would say that among the paradigms to follow are Jeany Beavan, Bina Daigeler, Sandy Powell, Pierre jean Laroque, Eiko Ishioka among others.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

SCG : I have a lot of references and designers who I follow but I remember one with special sweetness. At the beginning of my career, I was studying the 30s, and I found Madame Vionnet. Studying her style and pieces I discovered that white crepé dress, the material, the pattern, the elegance, all talked in a natural and complete symbiosis, making it simple but complex at the same time. The perfection was not in the dress, it was in the way all the elections of the designer merge to get that point of beauty and functionality, a good design is invisible: it is made to feel it not to notice it.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

SCG : I believe in design as a long-distance career, although it is true that you have to have specific talents that are essential, I believe that the hours of daily work, observation, and study of other professionals, the existing solutions and the constant improvement and consumption of information and references, is what makes you become a great designer.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

SCG : Musician or Art teacher.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

SCG : Design is solving problems by giving the human being a more comfortable life, it is functional art.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

SCG : To talk about my pillars, the people who support me, I would have to first talk about my family and my partner, who have unconditionally supported me in my biggest follies, my moments of joy, and emotional depression. Then without a doubt, I would mention three friends who have been there to push me and make me believe in myself, Mario Corujo, Violeta Cooper, and Raul Ochotorena, three people who started as co-workers and ended up being tutors and family.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

SCG : I don't consider myself a great designer yet, at 28 I think I have a lot to learn and climb. What I do believe is that what I have achieved has been based on a lot of work, perseverance, and rigor with what I do, taking each project no matter how small it is with seriousness and poise.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

SCG : Every day I face new obstacles but I remember two difficult and crucial moments that have happened to me in the years that I have been designing. The first of them took place at the beginning of university, I had just moved to Madrid and at the first university meeting they made a questionnaire on basic knowledge of fine arts, I never forget my frustration when I realized that I didn't even know half of the answers, from that day on I knew that I would have to work twice as hard as my teammates if I wanted to excel and so I did. The adaptation was tough but good to learn. The second of the obstacles was my origin, living in Madrid but coming from Cuba, sometimes I had to face the immigrant condition that many people take advantage of to lower wages, give the worst jobs and ignore working conditions, recalls a designer with the one who worked told me once that he had too many ambitions for his taste ... still many times today I deal with that.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

SCG : I believe that the good presentation of a design proposal is essential, fundamental to win the trust of a client. For me, the work presented must go beyond a proposal, it must give information on the context, final finish, functionality, and usability of the product, exemplifying, showing the client that we have investigated and our proposal is based on solid information, with tests and prototypes included whenever possible. We should show that beyond our origin, age, or experience we are prepared professionals with a passion for what we do but with skills to develop anything.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

SCG : Right now I work with the script of two future film projects and a TV series for Movistar plus. Searching for references, reading, and researching to build reference folders. Next year I have several proposals for international projects both as a designer and as part of the wardrobe team. I hope to continue making me a place on the international scene as a designer.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

SCG : I have never set a final goal for myself, I want to learn as much as I can and climb, I want to do great period projects that really is what I am passionate about but before that, I want to grow. I would like to become a benchmark for young designers like me, to be able to see my work on the big screen more and more often but I do not consider it to be my goal, I just want it to be my way.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

SCG : Although it is already part of our daily lives, I believe that design is making its way more and more definitively in the world of science, medicine and biotechnology. Definitely contributing to the future.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

SCG : When I have a new project, be it a theater play, a movie, a short film, or a music video, I start by reading the text or script several times and analyzing the context and the characters that interact. Then I dedicate myself to studying the director's work, so I will get to know in advance the aesthetics that guide his work. From there ahead I start looking for my own references.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

SCG : Try to enjoy every time, every work, every moment.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

SCG : I think that both feedback, design, and trend. It is true that certain designs together with good marketing become trends, just as an individual can appropriate an object and turn it into a trend, so the individual acts as a designer while transforming the use of the piece. I think it is certainly an infinite relationship that evolves in parallel.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

SCG : Technology is already an inseparable part of our lives. A mobile phone, a headset or a computer are part of our daily routines and they are also important in the design process. I always carry my iPad for quick sketches and my graphic tablet and my computer become part of my body while I prepared the sketches. Platforms like Behance or Pinterest become a source of references while Photoshop, Indesign, Magicplan, or Illustrator help me to shape Moodboard, drawings, and proposals that I will send them by email. As in life, technology is already a fundamental part of the design process.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

SCG : Depending on the job, the use of programs such as Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Magicplan, Sketchbook and others varies. It is also essential to develop the characters my Wacom and my cardboard and colored pencils.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

SCG : For me these three factors are what give richness to a design, help determine the use of the object and the perception that the individual will make of it. These three elements are deeply related to our cognitive and sentimental relationship with the environment, the way in which we translate our reactions and adopt or reject certain objects, spaces or environments is given by the relationship between these and our personal experience, therefore, they determine the success of a design.

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

SCG : The first thing that comes to mind is how it was manufactured, I try to analyze the object, then I try to establish the links that led the designer to achieve that shape and its meaning in order to learn from the process.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

SCG : My ideal design partner is a wonderful graphic designer with whom I have worked since University and who has become my best friend through the years. I strongly believe in co-design, as human beings and professionals we develop very specific skills and we lack others, having a co-designer often helps to have another perspective, to see where you have not seen to have an opinion many times different that will make you turn the subject or support you in some cases.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

SCG : In the case of this contest silver winning design, potentially affecting three people who influenced the development of the piece, the first was Vladimir Cuenca, co-designer of the costume work, and my teacher and mentor, secondly, María Gabriela Sánchez, friend and part of the wardrobe team and Jazz Martínez Gamboa, director of the play.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

SCG : I must mention ''Costume Design'' by Deborah Nadoolman, ''Madeleine Vionnet'' by Betty Kirke, ''El Signo'' by Humberto Eco, ''History of Modern Design'' by David Raizman

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

SCG : I think the design is a specialty in which you always learn, you are never a design master. Work experience, workshops, shootings, and hard work make a designer grow as a professional and earn tricks and knowledge every day. There is no formula, the important thing is to work and learn from mistakes, every great designer had mistakes, but they used it as an impulse to the next step.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

SCG : Color: mustard Place: Retiro Park, Madrid. Food: Tamales Season: Autumn Thing: Books Brand: Habitat

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

SCG : I always try to have a nice space to work and once there I put a playlist with inspirational themes that help me keep up with the work and keep me isolated from the outside. Usually, I feel like working with a task list, I try to start with the simple and a measure that women feel more motivated. There are better days and worse days, but you always have to start the day with the same enthusiasm.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

SCG : No, never, in fact, from the age of 7 I started studying piano and everything pointed to my becoming a classical pianist or piano teacher, so when after 11 years of career I decided to completely change the course of my life, nobody knew what would be next nor did they trust me as a designer.

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

SAMANTHA CHIJONA IS A YOUNG CUBAN-SPANISH COSTUME DESIGNER AND ART DIRECTOR. GROWN IN HABANA, SHE GRADUATED IN 2016 FROM THE COMPLUTENSE UNIVERSITY OF MADRID IN THE DESIGN DEGREE AND SHE ALSO HAS TAKEN COURSES AT THE SAINT MARTINS SCHOOL OF ARTS AND THE INSTITUTO EUROPEO DI DESIGN. SHE HAS BEEN WORKING IN ART AND WARDROBE DEPARTMENTS AT FILMS, ADVERTISING, AND THEATER, LEADING GROUPS IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS SINCE 2012. SOME OF THEM ARE CHANEL CRUISE 2016, ‘‘VIENTOS DE LA HABANA’’ BY FELIX VISCARRET, ‘’INSUMISAS’’ BY FERNANDO PEREZ, ‘’ UN TRADUCTOR’’ BY BARRIUSO BROTHERS, AND THE MOST RECENT PROJECT BY OLIVIER ASSAYAS, ‘’CUBAN NETWORK’’, WITH PENELOPE CRUZ, EDGAR RAMIREZ, WAGNER MOURA AMONG OTHERS. SHE HAS BEEN STUDYING AND RESEARCHING ABOUT CUBAN FASHION HISTORY, SEEING THE EVOLUTION, TRANSFORMATION, AND LOSS OF THE TEXTILE AND FASHION INDUSTRY WITHIN THE REVOLUTION PROCESS. THROUGH THE CINEMA, SHE IS TRYING TO GIVE TO THE CUBAN PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE, CONSUME AND ENJOY CUBAN DESIGN, CREATING A NEW INDUSTRY THAT GENERATES A LOT OF EMPLOYMENT INVOLVING THE EXPERIENCES AND SPECIALTIES OF THE OLD ONES WHILE JOINING THEM TO A NEW GENERATION.


The Armor Costume for a Character

The Armor Costume for a Character by Samantha Chijona Garcia

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