Head a few blocks north, away from the beating heart of Seville, and you drift seamlessly into the quieter district of La Macarena. Central enough to feel part of the city’s immeasurable charm, it remains an urban blend of local authenticity and arty aspiration. Home to the preternaturally talented design duo Todomuta, it’s a barrio that suits their tastes and sensibility. Traditional yet curious, rooted in quality, and forever changing.
Todomuta are Laura Molina and Sergio Herrera - a couple in every sense of the word. Together they forge a resolute path, exploring the outer realms of disparate design and non-conformist art. It's hard to define exactly what it is they do, but the joy of their output lies in an irreverent and often random approach. Equally at ease crafting rugs and immaculately realised jewellery, they also tackle larger metaphysical pieces, like obtuse tables hewn from the finest Spanish marble, and win plum commissions, most notably the vast metal sculpture currently dominating the Museum of European History in Brussels.
Confused? Throw in a dalliance with fashion and the definition becomes even hazier “It is not exactly what we do but how we do things” they say. “People call us for our vision.”
The outlook is unarguably visionary. “‘Todomuta’ can be translated as ‘everything changes’,” says Laura, a chic Spanish woman with smiley resolve. “It means that you can look at something from the other side, that we are in constant evolution. The naming is very important, it’s a philosophical concept that truly represents us. You have to keep changing and understanding new things. Dynamism and movement is fundamental.”
Are they philosophical? It’s a weighty enquiry, but there is nothing ephemeral about this most singular of companies. “I’m an earthly person,” muses Laura, “more involved with the people who work the materials. Sergio is the digital half - the images and photography. But we have a philosophy, because we face the creative process from a very artistic perspective, and without that philosophical point it would be very hard to approach.”
Laura is the more talkative of the pair, while Sergio prefers to bow to her confidence. He calls her “a rare bird”; she claims to have always seen his potential. Both are dressed in black today, faces brought into sharp focus. The eye contact feels like a form of design in itself.
The pair met a decade ago, working for a company producing exhibitions and set design. He was a designer, she an artist, recruiting other creatives to integrate in the projects. "But then we started to have side projects outside the company and realised we had something very beautiful together. His vision and mine could unite and create something more than on its own.”
“I saw in her that she was very different” remembers the coyly handsome Sergio. “I deal with photography and graphic design, and she has her own codes. She is an artist, but with the capacity of adaptation and assimilation that not all artists have. She is open to so many things and ends up returning something super interesting: her own story. It’s very special and very particular.”
“We are totally different,” smiles Laura.”Maybe this is why it works? He is pure sensibility: ‘la sensibilidad’.
“And she is the strength: ‘la fuerza’, adds Sergio, obviously besotted.
It is this verbal symbiosis: ordered, thoughtful and brimming with mutual praise that forms the cornerstone of their relationship. “Essentially we develop artistic projects and author pieces between art and design,” explains Laura, keen to define their oeuvre. “We create our own pieces and participate in projects for other clients, but always working with the same vision. We don’t adapt to the client. Ultimately, they call us because of our edge.”
The edge is born from an unusually florid list of influences. Forget whimsy and vapid nostalgia, Todomuta are inspired by more powerful themes of wild, untamed nature, anthropology, and the unearthing of past civilisations. “We look at the contemporary, but we like to dig up the terrain to discover the past,” says Sergio.“I find it interesting when you create a piece and people can’t place it in time or history. It could be from anywhere.”
Standing in the couple’s workshop, surrounded by computers, books and 3-D models, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact we are in the midst of Andalucian history. Does Spain figure? Can tradition blend with their modern idiosyncrasies? “It’s not that evident that there is Spain in our work,” says Sergio, “but you can see it in the techniques, and in our use of leather and ceramics.”
“And there’s a fantastic mix of influences in this city, you can go really back in time here,” adds Laura. “We want the studio to represent all the characteristics of Sevilla's heritage: the Semana Santa, the imagery. We fantasise about it.”
Conversation darts back and forth, detouring at surprising tangents. They enthuse about Rick Owens, a designer with an architectural flair that seems in tandem with their own inclinations “He is an example of someone who is not a label,” says Laura, beaming at the comparison. “He can show his piece in a museum, or he can work it into furniture. I love that he is flexible and creative. He has his own universe.”
Similarly, Todomuta have spun their own unique galaxy of ideas, a place where fashion and tactile shape-shifting orbit around the abiding principle of innovation. It’s a severe, often masculine world, populated by artefacts both human and alien. There’s a hint H.R. Giger in their angular sci-fi forms, offset by a geometric nod to the work of Spanish artist, Pablo Palazuelo, Buffered metals meet smooth layered wood in this most beguiling of environments. Functional objects moonlight as decorative objets.
“We are not fast food, and we are not ‘the designers of the year’,” reasons Sergio. “I wouldn't mind that to be honest, but we do not follow trends. That would be too high a price to pay.”
For more visit: https: www.todomuta.com
Paul Tierney stayed at the Legado Alcazar Hotel
The only hotel in Seville attached the city’s crowning glory, this former private home features rooms that look out onto the palm-fringed lawns of the Real Alcazar. On the terrace of the Junior Suite perches the hotel’s unofficial mascot, a sedentary male peacock - the literal feather in the cap of this boutique gem. With a mas verde philosophy sensitive to history and local art, authenticity prevails in this most gracious of spaces. legadoalcazarhotel.com; (+34) 954 091818