• UO Studio Visits: Cocolia

    In the city of Barcelona, artist Mireia Ruiz, one of our featured print-shop artists, works out of a colorful, light-filled home that's slowly "becoming a museum," and a pretty incredible one at that. Here, we take a tour of Mireia's art-filled home and talk to her about her inspirations, dream decor, and her aptly named Happy Chair.
    Photos by Berta Pfirsich

    Hi Mireia! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
    I am Mireia Ruiz (aka @mireiaysuscosas), born in Barcelona, and part of the creative studio Cocolia. I am a lover of painting and art, and I spend the day doing manual things that I combine with my profession of graphic designer. To work a lot of hours with the computer provokes the need to work with [my] hands, so I dedicate any break I have to relax with a paintbrush and color paints.

    When did you first become interested in art?
    Since I was a child I loved painting, but I belong to a humble family that didn't see the world of art as useful. I remember that at age fifteen I visited Madrid with my family. In that trip we visited the Prado museum, and for me the beauty of the brush-strokes of Goya's paintings was spectacular, but especially an altarpiece of "El Jardín de las Delicias" from the Dutch painter "el Bosco". I [got so lost in it] that I lost the notion of time and my family waited for me at the exit.

    Were there any influences growing up that pushed you towards an artistic career?
    The will to paint has always been in me, but I got education as a graphic designer; for a while I believed it was not compatible with my artistic facet. Nevertheless, a few years ago, when I joined my partner and friend Raúl Ramos, we bet for a creative studio where we could develop our curiosity for the plastic arts. This is how Cocolia was born as a creative studio.

    What kind of work do you do in your studio?
    We do graphic design as the base of our profession, and then on the other side we do product and artistic photography. We also do paintings and hand-painted sweaters in limited editions. Another activity that we love is teaching, and we teach Creativity classes in school Idep Barcecelona to graphic and fashion students.

    Do you have a favorite medium to work in?
    Photography always helps to highlight the beauty of the pieces, and as a studio it's a necessary resource in all of our projects. So, I try to photograph all the artistic pieces with care and affection. In short, photography is the best means to transmit our creativity.

    How has your style evolved over the past few years? Has there been a drastic change?
    Two years ago I took more seriously my personal need of painting, so I have worked a lot in my free time, experimenting with the cardboards like the great Henri Matisse, cutting and forming freely. Working with shapes and colors to generate interesting compositions is very satisfying for me; it's a liberation. That has been my change, to appreciate the abstract as a means that allows me to transmit my emotional mood. On the other hand, working with cardboards led me to overcome the brush-strokes, defining my style little by little.

    Tell us a little bit about your home – how would you describe your aesthetic?
    My house is in the Les Corts neighborhood of Barcelona, and I share with my boyfriend since four years ago. What I had very clear is that I wanted all the walls white, because I knew that I was going to fill it with things of color. The living room is an open area, very spacious and with natural light, and that helped me to paint a lot more. Nowadays, the house is full of my paintings, paints, brushes, vases and objects that I collect.

    What is your favorite possession that you have?
    What a difficult question! I couldn't choose one thing as a favorite, because I have a lot of things! But there is one that I really like and that makes me happy every time I see it. It is a wobbly chair that I found in the street one afternoon coming back from the studio. I took it home, I painted it in white, and then I drew a smiley face on it. Although it is wobbly, people like to sit on it. It went from abandoned sad chair to a happy chair. I believe that giving life to secondhand objects is very satisfying.

    How do people usually describe your home when they come over for the first time?
    First thing they say is that it is becoming a museum, and they are right. At the moment I work at home, because we are looking for a new space for Cocolia. But I dedicate my free time to painting at home, and it is where I am more comfortable. Over time, my paintings, sculptures and pottery have been placed in every corner of the house.

    We love your fresh take on design! Do you have anything or anyone that has been influencing you lately?
    Our creative studio includes all the fields that we love, from graphic design, photography and art. This unusual model of studio was a consequence of knowing a French studio that we admire profoundly, Akatre. Other artists from Barcelona are also very good, like David Mende Alonso and Hey Studio. They love color as much as we do.

    Where are some of your favorite places in Barcelona?
    My favorite place (where I am a regular) is the street market "Encants de Barcelona", located very near to DHUB, the Museum of Design of Barcelona. I strongly recommend to you that if you visit Barcelona you see both places since they are very close to each other. I go every Saturday to the street market with my mother, and there I can find interesting objects from other periods, second hand or new. And always at a good price if you know how to bargain. I love to train my sight to find the best objects and take them home.

    Finally, what's one thing you're looking forward to doing in 2016?
    I hope to have our new space ready in Barcelona this 2016. We are looking for a place with a lot of natural light, and a bigger space than the one we had to have a photography set, paint, design and do workshops about creativity. We are very excited planning how to organize and decorate the space. You are invited and we will let you know when this project turns a reality before we end this 2016.

    Shop Cocolia