She was born in Murcia in 1977, although at the tender age of one week Inma Bermúdez moved to Valencia, the city where she studied design which is also becoming a fount of new creators in Spain. Today she works for a wide variety of companies in different countries. With Follow Me she feels that she is adding a feminine touch to the Marset catalogue, where until this past season all the lamps were created by male designers. Based at her country house 20 km from Valencia — where she lives surrounded by dogs, hens, a vegetable patch and nearby family to keep up the traditional Sunday paella — today she travels anywhere in the world if it means launching a new project.
On what day did you become a designer?
I have liked to create things my entire life. I have been creative and curious since I was little. I think that the day I began to be a designer was precisely when I began to work. I have always been insecure, and I did not have the sense that I was capable of creating anything until I saw that I was able to design things that were manufactured and brought to market.
Is the idea of having the ability to create things very powerful?
I think that this perspective comes from a person who is not living in the skin of a designer, because to me it is totally natural. On the other hand, the job of a surgeon seems incredible to me because I am totally unfamiliar with that field. To me, creating is natural, and I love it, it comes easily, I don’t have to think a lot about what I am doing, I just do it.
Where did you study?
I studied in Valencia, and in my last year at university I went on an Erasmus trip to Germany. It was hard, but not too hard because my first rule after I arrived was not to compare, because if I compare it with what I had experienced at home, I’m always going to prefer what I am more familiar with. When I live someplace else, my philosophy has always been to make the most of the place. This helps a lot; it lets you get to know people from another perspective and to be more relaxed. In Germany I learned the culture of recycling, I began to get close to nature, to animals. I met people who lived with hens and goats, who had their own vegetable gardens, and I began to feel curious. And that is one of the reasons why I live the way I do now: in a house built in a sustainable way, with animals, a vegetable garden, hens and roosters, in a very relaxed way. An atmosphere like that helps me to get the peace and quiet I need to create. After that, I worked in France in the summers in design workshops organised by the Vitra Design Museum. And later still I did an internship at Ikea and went to Sweden. I spent the winter there — it was a bit hard because there was no light. I ate tons of chocolate, a total anti-depressant, but I learned a lot and it brought out the best in me.
After six years abroad and living back in Valencia, I worked at Lladró, which taught me about the world of porcelain.
What is light?
That’s a difficult question…Light is everything. If we didn’t have light, we couldn’t eat, we couldn’t live. In this sense, light gives us life, it’s necessary for everything…
Light is life, happiness, enthusiasm, warmth…love. Light is everything. Ultimately, if there is no light, there is nothing.
What does a beautiful light make you feel?
It makes me feel peaceful, quiet…I am really bothered when a light isn’t good. It affects my mood.
What is a beautiful light like?
To me it is candlelight, firelight, the light of a flame. This might be a bit anthropological, coming from back when we used to live in caves and use fire to illuminate things. At my home, when we light the fireplace, you can spend hours watching the flames. It’s an amazing feeling. It captivates you — it’s hypnotising.
And yet you make artificial light…
Yes, I make artificial light, but I am very careful with the kind of light I make: the tone, the intensity and the warmth of the light are very important. They are essential factors when designing a light.
Do you think that the place you grew up, the Mediterranean, has affected the way you design?
More than that, I think that the most important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of the user. Designing also means thinking about the role of the user, identifying the problem and trying to provide a solution. More than thinking about the origin of the designer’s culture, you have to determine the experience with this object, the psychology of the object.
What do your designs say about you?
That depends on for whom you make things. For Ikea, my designs are very practical — they’re smart. For Marset, the FollowMe lamp says a lot about who I am. I am quite an expressive, spontaneous person, and people like the lamp; they smile when they see it.
I am functional for Ikea, I am the more romantic or floral Inma for Lladró, and for Marset I might be the more emotional Inma.
Do the things you design have a soul?
Yes, objects have a soul, they convey something to you, they speak to you, they are made to be touched and used. In fact, when you create them you have to think about this soul, about this language, which is what they are going to do, or how they are going to interact.
What is an optimistic lamp like?
A lamp that makes you smile, that draws a smile from you, that gives you a light that makes your eyes shine. A lamp that you love — to me this is the kind of design I like. It is not always possible, but I think that we’ve achieved it with the FollowMe. Ultimately everyone likes it. After that it’s a question of price, but everyone who sees it smiles and likes it. And that’s really difficult, to get a product that almost everyone responds well to. We human beings have different tastes, and each one is the son or daughter of different parents, so it’s difficult to reach everyone…
Tell me about the FollowMe.
Follow me, follow the light. I love its name — it’s like a treat. Its name is part of the product’s essence. The FollowMe is a portable, wireless lamp with batteries. You carry it with you so it’s like a gadget.
How did you come up with it?
I like to dig into the company’s past, and I asked Marset for information on old designs from 20 or 30 years ago. So Javier Marset sent me a catalogue and I discovered a lamp from the 1970s which was called the Flash. It was a table lamp and I really liked the way the top was attached. That was my point of departure. With the sketch in hand, Javier gave me his marketing perspective and talked about a market niche: battery-powered lamps. Usually they have a more camping-style aesthetic, more practical, so I began to work to make it really attractive. And in conjunction with Marset’s technical department we managed to create this delight.
Is design a lifestyle?
Design is more a way of thinking. A designer is a curious person. You like to know the reason behind things, and ultimately it is a way of seeing life. When you travel, you see things differently. You think: How was that made? What material is it made of?
Where do your ideas come from?
Mainly from working…ideas come by thinking of them!
What is the perfect lamp like?
I think that everyone has their own definition of perfection. To me, it is a lamp that I want to have, that gives good light, a lamp that I like having wherever it is.
And perfect light?
That’s difficult because it depends on what it’s for, what mood — depending on the action you’re doing, you need a different kind of light. My favourite light far and away is firelight.
What remains for you to do?
Lots of things. I want to be happy, travel, have a family…My most important goal is happiness, and to find it is it important to be near the people you love, my family and my dogs.
The best reward with FollowMe is having created something that makes people smile, that they like as much as I do. It means that it’s a job well done.