Designer Rodrigo Torres: Using Simplicity to Bridge the Fun and Functional
As a graduate student at the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan, Italy, Rodrigo Torres discovered a
profound connection between his Latin American cultural and modernist influences and the school's
approach to design as a marriage of the whimsical with the rational, the fun with the functional. The
honest, sleek yet fun-loving aesthetic for which Torres' products would become known for pay tribute in
large part to a central influence in his life, Italian designer Stefano Giovannoni, with whom he worked
Rodrigo Torres is a Colombian-Italian designer that specializes in
product design. Founded in 2004, his studio has been collaborating with top international brands in
Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America.
These formative experiences were not only instrumental in helping Torres develop his unique language and
international appeal as a product designer but were also part of the genesis of his fruitful and
longstanding partnership with Landscape Forms. "My relationship with Landscape Forms goes back quite a
while,” recalls the designer. "After meeting a representative from the company in Milan, the relationship
quickly progressed, initially leading to the invitation for me to design a lighting collection.”
The lighting collection, which would come to be known simply as Torres, stands as one of Landscape Forms’
most celebrated product lines, earning both Spark and Red Dot awards in product design.
"I really enjoy working with them for the way they continue to push a design-oriented and designer-led
philosophy,” says Torres of this experience. “It was an approach I admired when working with Italian
companies like Alessi and Poliform, and I find it very exciting that Landscape Forms is a leading proponent
of this philosophy in the United States. I really see them as a bold actor in the furniture and lighting
Concept drawing of the latest design created by Rodrigo Torres in
partnership with the Landscape Forms’ design team.
Rodrigo Torres recently returned to Landscape Forms to
take on a new design challenge—the reimagining of connected seating through the lens of versatility. “The
beautiful challenge was to create something that stands out as powerful, bold and iconic, yet still is at
home in any space,” describes Torres. “So my approach was to use the minimum amount of shapes to achieve the
maximum effect—a structure that’s robust in its construction, flexible in its function, fluid in its
simplicity and playful in its attitude.”
Light enough to be picked up, arranged and rearranged, Take-Out opens
up new ways for people to connect in outdoor spaces—face-to-face or abreast, an intimate chat or a large
Take-Out, the fruit of this recent collaboration, is
truly an embodiment of versatility. A collection of intercompatible connected seat tables, Take-Out brings
dynamism to a single space through its ease of configuration and reconfiguration. And across a variety of
spaces, its agreeable aesthetics complement the gamut of architectural contexts.
“My initial focus for Take-Out was to create a collection that doesn’t fight with
its environment, which in this case is architecture,” describes the designer. "This is so important because
our clients are, of course, architects. And if I were an architect, the last thing I would want is a piece
that is screaming and shouting for attention alongside my beautiful building, park or campus.”
Placed side-by-side, Take-Out can form a long run of seating and surface for group
meals, meetings or brainstorming sessions.
Simultaneously achieving these competing aims of
creating something that "stands out as powerful, bold and iconic, yet still is at home in any space” seems
almost like an impossible, paradoxical challenge. Yet for Torres, the path was clear: Utter simplicity was
the only way to achieve such a result.
"Simplicity is the key. In the context of design and architecture, it’s very difficult to bring together two
different languages—imagine the challenge of trying to elegantly pair a modern piece of furniture with the
Colosseo in Rome, for example,” Torres describes.
"When you have a very powerful statement of architecture, you have two options: Match the language of that
architecture perfectly or distill your design down to the absolute minimum. For this second option, the
option I chose to pursue, the furniture needs to be anonymous from afar, not fighting for your attention in
the space. But from up close, the furniture needs to put a smile on your face as you then begin to realize
the shapes, structures, thought and attention to detail that went into designing that piece,” he says.
Take-Out’s minimalist form is designed to maximize its function,
comfort and accessibility. Gently curved edges eliminate pressure points on the elbows and behind the
knees while also lending Take-Out a warm, welcoming gesture.
The push and pull between the bold and the versatile
wasn’t the only challenge Torres faced in his design of Take-Out. Nearly two years in the making, the world
that Take-Out would inhabit is very different from the world in which it was initially conceived. After the
outset of the 2020 pandemic, Take-Out’s focus began to evolve, its purpose becoming clearer and more
“With objects, we can generate different rituals within human beings and how they relate to one another. At
a park, on a train, or in an office space, each context drives the design language that will generate the
object and its purpose,” describes Torres. “Suddenly in the context of the pandemic, the outside world
became the safe world—the safest place to be chatting with another human being is outside, and the outdoors
quickly became the new green living room."
Five different silhouettes—a single, double, triple, left triple and
right triple —can either stand alone or work together in myriad arrangements.
Energized by this new and vital purpose of outdoor
space, the designer honed his focus. “The added goal for Take-Out needed to be a way to invite people to
connect and enjoy public outdoor spaces as a ritual in their daily lives,” he describes. "We needed to give
people an absolutely simple system to be able to work, read, and relax on their own, then be able to turn
around, easily join Take-Out pieces together, and all of a sudden have a safe collaborative space."
Torres concludes, “the beautiful thing about this project is that it was the first in my life to be born
before a catastrophe, evolve inside of a catastrophe, and offer a solution for people to come out on the
other side happier, healthier and with the resources they need to remain connected."