Three years ago, Marta Cerdà Alimbau set off for New York to seek her fortune with her photo album under her arm. She had won the ADC Young Guns award, had worked in London and Berlin and had the makings of a decent résumé, but lady luck had not yet smiled upon her. Now, as I write this, she is flying back to the United States. A studio left her a desk where she can exchange ideas with the finest creatives in the Big Apple. Since her first assault on the city, she has worked with brands such as Coca-Cola, the Penguin publishing house and Ray-Ban, and is likely to return to Catalonia with more clients. Mostly, though, I’m sure she will come back with a crate-load of ideas. And I think that is what matters most to her.
The value of a creator depends on the richness of their world, and Marta is currently conquering hers. Finding work is no longer a problem, so she can focus on self-discovery. Her works bring to mind the heritage of Catalan Art Nouveau, due to her love of both synthesis and ornamentation. She thinks her designs through, as if seeking an indisputable clarity that will stave off the most nitpicking critics and outlive passing fads. Taking a solid and simple concept, she is capable of crafting, like a goldsmith, a jewel brimming with passion that acts as an exuberant foil to her meticulous and cerebral personality. She insists that she has “no moral aspiration to explain anything to the world”. And while it is true that this playful side shines through more brightly than the moral side of her work, I would not be surprised if the charm of her designs becomes more incisive over the years.
When I met Marta, her character immediately made me think of her work. She is a woman of controlled spontaneity, who combines restraint with warmth, eccentricity with prudence and distance with an attention to detail. Her sense of the aesthetic is related to the way she dresses and her overall mien – the elegance of her bamboo cane body and her exotic face with its large, strong features sit so well with her independent spirit and the roots of her surname, of Visigothic origin. She does not like to be treated as an artist, and believes more in hard graft than relying on inspiration. She has a strong sense of unity, great personal ambition and respect for tradition, and she competes only with herself. If these are not the traits of an artist, then someone please tell me what are.