Luis Ramírez

Havana, Cuba

Cuban designer Luis Ramírez was born in Havana in 1968. Between 1986 and 1991, he studied industrial design at the Higher Institute of Industrial Design (ISDI) in Havana, ultimately graduating with a Gold Seal. Since the 1990s, he has focused on furniture, ceramics, and interior design projects, including, among others, the design of all the furniture for multiple major hotels in Old Havana, such as the lauded Hotel Santa Isabel (1996), Hotel Palacio O’Farrill Havana (1998), Hotel San Miguel (1999), and Hotel Santander (2000). In 2000, Ramírez became vice president of the Caguayo Foundation for Monumental and Applied Arts, which promotes Cuban art and design both domestically and abroad. In 2005, he and fellow Cuban designer Miguel Garcés launched Dekuba, a contemporary furniture studio in Havana. Ramírez designs both independently and in collaboration with Dekuba.

Other notable projects include Tropics (1993), a ceramic teapot turned citrus squeezer, accompanied by a set of cups (this project was shortlisted by Designboom for its 2007 international competition, Ceramics for Breakfast); as well as a collection of porcelain pieces—including vases, candleholders, drink ware, and other vessels—for Sargadelos, a noted porcelain brand based in Galicia, Spain (2013). Several pieces from the latter series balance on pointed bottoms, allowing them to rotate. In addition to his contemporary furniture, objects, and interiors, Ramírez also creates period furniture and interiors, with a special emphasis on the Cuban colonial style, for major, government-organized restoration projects. His work is intensely research driven, motivated by social, historical, and environmental contexts, as well as material availability. Describing his approach, he says, “My work is characterized by a coherent dialogue between form and function of the simplest and most creative way possible.” 

In addition to his design projects, over the years, Ramírez has spoken frequently at a number of conferences, galleries, and schools inside and outside of Cuba. Through his work and outreach efforts, he hopes to raise awareness of the larger value of design and its potential impact on everyday life. In this spirit, he has exhibited his work on numerous occassions. Shows include 12x2, an exhibition of Dekuba’s chairs presented at both the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana and Lounge Triveneto del Mobile in Padova, Italy (2005); Handled with Care: Contemporary Ceramic Works, a group show organized by Designboom for the London Design Festival (2007); the Iberoamerican Design Biennial (BID) in Madrid (2008 and 2014); and Signs of Life at the Wilfredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art in Havana (2013), among others.

Ramírez has also been awarded Cuba’s National Industrial Design Award multiple times (1991, 1993, and 2014, as of this writing) for, respectively, his Coral, Tropics, and Synthesis & Symbiosis ceramics.

He lives and works in Havana.