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Furniture as Armosphere #Rafael Moneo


Rafael Moneo Vallés is one of the most awarded and world-famous Spanish architects. His awards include the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1996 and the recent Spanish National Architecture Prize in 2015. But Rafael Moneo’s relation to the world of furniture design is far less known, although this relation started at the beginning of his professional path and it is a part of his personal approach to architecture.

My furniture makes clear my intentions regarding to the atmosphere of my architecture. Rafael Moneo, 2003

Much of his early works were related to furniture design, among them the interior design of the former Huarte Gallery in La Castellana Avenue, Madrid, that he developed while working for Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza; the chair that won the design competition sponsored by H Muebles in 1959 or the low-cost furniture that won the competition sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Housing in 1960. Since then, most of his building designs include a piece of furniture developed as part of the architectural project in order to reinforce the building’s character.

As Moneo’s buildings present a pronounced formal variety, due to the architect’s will for finding a specific solution for each case, also the furniture that he has designed for them include a wide range of different stylistic reference: the H Muebles contest chair or the Oria Chair that he designed for his home in 1965 refer clearly to Alvar Aalto, the furniture for the Logroño Town Hall (1973-1981) or the metal tube chairs for the Gregorio Marañón Hospital (1996-2003) follow a rationalist line, the furniture that he designed for the Museum of Roman Art of Merida (1980-1986) are closer to the Arts and Crafts movement, and, finally, in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (1996-2003) the lamps that virtually define the height of the space are rather expressionist