Camilo Gonzalez is the 360 creative and graphic designer whose work blurs the lines of fashion and art. Working in collaboration with his partner Andrés Lareu, an interior designer and architect, Camilo has come to London by way of Buenos Aires and Spain and has already made his distinctive mark on projects for the likes of Mother New York, Sonia Rykiel, The Sofitel Hotel and Narciso Rodriguez.
Influenced by the history of art and design, Camilo’s work is instantly recognisable for its attention to detail and elegance, and his Instagram is a must-follow for design lovers seeking inspiration. Here, we talk branding, favourite buildings and #CreativeFutures.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Well, the axis of all my work is, in some way, a tribute to the history of artisanal graphic design. I use pure and humble material sources, with great creative ideas. I’m influenced by the early 20th century avant-garde art movement and mid-century design. I feel my work is about finding new compositions through history and art, always highlighting the more modest and artisan. I’m always trying to approach my work with a fresh eye and sense of discovery.
You’re a true 360 creative that can turn your hand to almost anything, where does that creative eye come from?
Thank you! My aim is to provide holistic design solutions for brands with conceptual rigour and a consistently refined aesthetic across all mediums. I do extensive research into each project, whether it is for a logo, a set design or a piece of furniture. I have a background in graphic design and the luxury market, and my partner, Andrés, is in architecture, fine arts and interior design. So, we decided to unite our capabilities and disciplines in order to create an interesting product. We explore the heritage, craft, materials and particularities of each and twist them to uncover something unexpected and innovative along the way.
You’re originally from Chile, and you lived in Madrid before coming to London. Tell us a bit about your experience relocating?
I have always worked remotely with global clients so relocating didn’t feel too much of a big step. However, living and working in London is an amazing opportunity and I feel so excited to be surrounded by such international talent.
What was your first job in the creative industries?
I am self-taught and I learned a lot of design and digital tools from a very young age. My brother is a Computer Engineer and I learned a lot from him. When I was 17, a friend introduced me to the designer for Guy Laroche in Paris, a Chilean fashion designer, who hired me to develop his branding and website. It was my first connection with the industry.
Andrés has an academic and more traditional background in architecture and art criticism, which is very helpful when we approach each project. He has this kind of encyclopaedic memory and he’s an expert at selecting and choosing many different elements from various periods in history that I think most people don’t even realise exist.
Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always been very interested in technology and design. I grew up in the 2000’s where there was a huge rise in the digital world; you could see it everywhere. At the same time I knew I wanted to do something creative and related to design. I used to be a huge fan of a Japanese creative studio called Kioken and I learnt how to design by looking at their work. I have always pursued design professionally but I felt I needed better insight in order to deliver a more intellectual product. So I decided to study art curation where I met Andrés and started collaborating.
Tell us about setting up your own creative studio?
I started off working with Andrés as a duo and collaborating in different projects. During the early stages, we didn’t really know what the focus of the studio should be. We had many different commissions from creating a logo to designing an interior. It was a difficult process deciding on our focus, but in the end we decided to specialise in art direction, brand and visual identity.
In practical terms, setting up the studio in London has been easy. We’ve been lucky, people are always open to listening to our proposals and willing to collaborate on many diverse kinds of projects. This makes London the perfect place to continue and grow our business.
What are some of the projects you’ve been working on lately?
We were in New York recently, working on the art direction of the launch of the new Narciso Rodriguez fragrances. It was a really fun project because we were involved in the whole experience from concept to creation. We took our inspiration from the vintage Shiseido beauty campaigns of the 80’s and Japanese Ikebanas arrangements. Our set designs were inspired by the minimalist work of Robert Mapplethorpe; incredible iconic photographs of floral still life. I really felt that the results captured the essence of the brand.
At the moment Andrés and I are collaborating on the launch of a new magazine in London. We’ve been commissioned to do all the graphic design and creative direction. I can’t give more details about it now, but it’s really exciting.
On a personal note, we’ve also started curating an archive of design artworks that we use as inspiration. You can follow our instagram @horrorvacuistudio.
Do you have a favourite place in London to go looking for inspiration?
We love going to The Royal Academy. All the interesting layers of this iconic monument. The Italian architecture and everything that goes on inside the building, the mixture between contemporary and classical art and the history of all the artists who have passed through it. I try to make an excuse to go there whenever I can!
I love all the crescents sweeping across Central London. Also, that brief period of architecture in England when the buildings covered their signature brick fronts. Simple and pure facades are some of my key inspirations.
Although cliched, I can’t get enough of London’s parks. I love the balance of man-made landscape design and wild nature. One of my favourite spots to contemplate them is The Magazine restaurant in the middle of Hyde Park. The building that was originally planned as a temporary installation is one of the few rare jewels that have been built by Zaha Hadid. Another of my favourite gardens that I love to visit whenever I can is the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Somerset. The landscape was designed by Piet Oudolf, a true contemporary artist who works with nature.
What’s next for you?
I would like to make more creative collaborations with artists and other designers. These are usually the most interesting projects.I’d ideally like to collaborate with art galleries, exhibitions and cultural centres.
As someone who works with business on their brand identities, how important do you think a personal brand is for creatives today? Tell me a bit about your personal brand?
Brand identity is crucial. We live in a social-focused world. Your image and reputation is more important than ever, and whether you know it or not, you're already a personal brand that people are judging and interacting with on a daily basis. You could say by developing a personal brand you're creating and laying down your future. We have a distinctive approach at Horror Vacui Studio, one that reflects the historical, political and social forces that have shaped our environments. We apply rigorous attention to the context, process and detail of each of our projects.