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The expat top-10 aims the spotlight on the internationals that help Eindhoven progress. E52 sat down with each winning expat to talk about their experiences and perspective on the city they once came to, and never got away from. Today: Nacho Carbonell, designer.

 Nacho Carbonell
Age: 45
Profession: Designer
Living in Eindhoven since: 2005

Spanish designer Nacho Carbonell came to Eindhoven in 2005 graduated Cum Laude at the Design Academy in 2007. After that, he won several international awards, had expositions in Londen, Miami and Madrid among others, but never left his studio in Eindhoven.

‘When I came here there were just three guys living in the Klokgebouw’
“Imagine that: three guys having the entire Klokgebouw to themselves. I visited them and they were running around in the big empty halls, having parties and creating art and design. Myself, I had an empty church to work in, together with some collaborators we were working on our designs while Jesus was watching us in the corner. It was an amazing time to arrive in Eindhoven, when everything was so open and free.”

“I came here after I graduated as a technical engineer in Valencia. I had been graduated for three years but felt like I needed to develop myself further. I wanted to put myself in a new world that would challenge me as a designer. I found that at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. They taught me to think outside the patterns of traditional design. That coincided with the way I was working in Eindhoven, having to pay virtually no rent at all for a home and a studio, which led to some sort of rebel way of designing.”

‘We are a long way from those days’
“I think the city has become too structured. Since the city has picked up design as one of their main pillars they have started to create spots were design should happen: mostly Strijp. But it seems they also found out that there’s money to be made from design. So now, Strijp-S has become this perfectly structured expensive area. I still love to go there, but it has lost its wild touch, which is a shame I think.”

“The city in itself seems to be very structured. I think it still misses a place where people can meet, work and mingle in an organic way. Now it’s like this. If you’re a designer: Go to Strijp. If you’re a technician, go to High Tech Campus or TU/e, if you’re young and you want to party: Go to Stratum. There’s too much structured placing in the city, which conflicts the sort of rebel nature of art and design.”

‘You can’t change a city’s DNA in just ten years’
“It’s amazing how much has changed in the past ten years. To me it’s a 360-degrees turn to what it was. Then, living in the Klokgebouw was cheap, virtually no cost, now it will probably cost you into millions of Euros. It has changed so fast, sometimes I think the people didn’t have the time to change with it. As a city, you can try and create these sort of industrial design areas like Strijp, but if business is in the city’s DNA, like it is in Eindhoven, the area is bound to be exploited in that way.

‘All expats think of going back someday’
“But it’s a question of when and how. I’ve built up a lot over the years, it’s hard to give that up. I do often think about settling down somewhere but I have no idea if Eindhoven is the end of the road for me. I would like to own something. I’ve always rented against low cost, never actually bought a property. So if I end up not being able to be rent I’m going to be in the streets with all this stuff I’ve created over the years.”

‘The Dutch always have a plan, except for when it’s lunchtime maybe’
“It’s a quality I’ve come to appreciate and love. In Spain, a building would probably be empty for years before it gets sold or destroyed. Here, an owner will say: I’ll let you live in it for free, as long as you’re responsible for the maintenance and give it back to me after an amount of time. That’s a much more respective approach to the building than just letting something rot away.”

“The one thing you guys don’t seem to have a plan for, is lunchtime. You just eat a sandwich and be done with it. I try to implement a little of Spain in our studio. At lunch, we cook and sit around, take our time and make conversation. That’s something Dutch people could learn from us: Leave the sandwich at home.”

This was the final interview in the series of interviews with expats. Have a look at the other articles here.