We continue our monthly section with EDUARDO DEL FRAILE, a multidisciplinary designer present at ‘From Spain With Design: Identity and Territory’ with the packaging piece for the SOSO flower of salt, which was incorporated from the itinerancy in Murcia. Please remember that if you have not yet seen the exhibition, you can do so at the MEAIC in Badajoz until 12 March.

Was SOSO an integrated design work and were you involved in all phases of the product design?

SOSO was an integrated project of Naming, Branding, Packaging Design and Packaging.

The studio works like a restaurant with a few but very well-cared for tables. This allows a personal involvement in the development and evolution of each work. The interesting thing about this is that you learn more each time and the next project is nourished by the experience of the previous one…

In the case of SOSO, we presented a packaging exactly like the one we see today, but in a flatter vision, as at that time we did not have the equipment to generate a powerful volume. The client was enthusiastic about the proposal and we decided to embark on the adventure. From the studio I commissioned the interior enclosure and a vision of the final volume, always with an admittedly somewhat obsessive follow-up on my part. Although I must confess that I still find the close-up of the packaging very romantic, as it preserves the essence of the brand perfectly.

The project process took almost two years to complete. As there was so much time, I proposed making a one-kilo egg and that also came into play. In addition, egg cartons were made to sell six 100-gram units. There was a good project dynamic and the result was very special and differential.

The vision of the work itself is a visual metaphor that I have been using in my studio for a long time. It consists of taking objects from the flat world to the volumetric world. With an emotional value and posing a small challenge to the consumer. It is the vision of a graphic designer within the world of the product. 

With this vision, the studio has developed works for different parts of the world with simple but well elaborated results. To give some interesting examples: a wok made with the ecological material bagasse for a giant take-away food chain in Korea, a take-away apple for llaollao, the Oliva oil cruet or the complex creation of a rum in a ceramic head in the shape of a gorilla.

What was the main challenge you faced in this work?

Convincing the client was the first phase, although, as I said, it was not the most complex. It really consisted of spending so much time undertaking the project, as the product times take so long. Graphic designers are used to having a poster or stationery finished in a few weeks. With products, the costs are much higher, the responsibility is greater and more things come into play. There are no shortcuts and decisions about the design are multiplied. Involvement with the projects becomes greater, but at the same time a very special bond is generated with the clients.

And one more thing to underline, the project won over 10 design awards in the main design competitions in Spain, Belgium, the United States… but the real success was to be able to sell a two-euro salt at a price close to €10; and at the same time to be recognised in several continents with a great diversity of countries. This was the great challenge that was met. It is not about getting medals for your achievements in the sector you belong to, but about generating great social value and demonstrating that good design changes things. You can be revolutionary if the long-term strategy is well conceived. At the time, this project fulfilled those values. Today I think other values have become a challenge in design…

You can’t always choose, but what would be your perfect project assignment?

I think you can always choose. You just have to say yes or no 🙂 Ana Gea’s book “Vivir del Diseño” reflects on the types of clients and their psychological connotations. I recommend it. I was lucky enough to write a prologue together with Josep María Mir, founder of Summa Comunicación, whom I respect and greatly appreciate.

Working on a project is a commitment. That’s why you have to be sure about taking on the challenge. For me, the perfect project is to create a strategy that is so different and so successful in the design process that the client gets a return on their investment. This implies that you are going to receive more commissions from this client and that the relationship is going to be prolonged over time. It also means that the project will be highly visible and that you may have been able to inspire others. And of course, it will attract new interesting projects. And the fundamental key is to feel happy with your work, so it also means that the personal relationship with the client has been fruitful.

There are fields in which you can sow and wonderful things grow, others may not be the right moment in which to invest time in them, as they may not be ready to receive your seed. Or you simply sense that you will not be able to help this brand, person or institution. Projects are based on the fusion of two opposites that attract each other. If this science does not happen, the result is inert…

In the Identity and Territory axis, we selected pieces that have to do with Spain’s diversity. In this case, do you consider that this piece can be identified with a territory? How?

I understand the philosophy of the exhibition and I find it interesting. Creating a territorial division can generate reflections on the style and context of a design.

It is true that abroad the differential of the exhibition would be the concept of Spain, also pointing out the territorial divisions. I am in favour of opening borders, always respecting the diversity of an area. I am a great believer that the whole creates union and that we must be united to create the Spain brand.

I have worked very well in Murcia for many years and currently live in San Juan Playa. I maintain clients, I have new ones and I also create clients from Murcia and other parts of Spain and the world. I think that food is the landscape that surrounds us and that the customers of a territory form an identity in itself. Although territorial style is more difficult to sense. But of course, it happens. I think it is very positive to get the reflection of a country in the same exhibition epicentre.

I have been working for Askull for over 15 years, they are a distribution giant in Japan. They are extremely meticulous when it comes to their work. They think I’m in Spain, they don’t give a differential value to the place where I live. They see Spain as a territory, it’s true that Madrid or Barcelona is better known to them, but they really value the design work and that, curiously, I live in Spain. This is good to open your mind and think that the fact of having a job is no longer so much related to where you live, but to the differential capacity and the success stories of your work.

From Spain with Design is also a tool for the projection of Spanish design. What state are we in and what needs further training?

Of course, it is. It is a great opportunity to spread the word about the profession and add value to the work of so many professionals. This is a profession with a lot of passion and meticulousness. Designers are usually very responsible with their work and it is very worthy of being exhibited. Especially understanding the effort that this has involved and the number of people who have collaborated in many cases unselfishly to carry out the project. My congratulations to all of them.

And as you asked me, you created at the same time. I think you can be more daring in the location of the exhibition space at some point. To acquire a greater commitment with the Spanish state, that is to say, that the exhibition generates a greater involvement with design. For example, how many people pass through the Prado Museum every day, and could this be a temporary location in a museum?

What would you highlight from the exhibition?

Its itinerant value. The variety of projects. Bringing together works from different categories, expanding the territorial value of design. The creation of a personalised exhibition module. Representing a country and its diversity as an added value. The emotional value of uniting so many designers for the same purpose. Together we are stronger…