Interview with Camilo Rodriguez

Alvaro Uribe
Products of Design
Published in
6 min readOct 19, 2023

Between 2019 and 2021 I created Aztro Marketplace, a platform dedicated to helping international brands enter the US market. As part of that effort, we got to learn and talk with many fascinating brands from around the world. The following is one of your interviews with Camilo Rodriguez founder of Carm Works.

Hi Camilo, tell us about your studio and its origins.

I studied industrial design in Colombia, and I finished at UNAM in Mexico. I’ve always been interested in creating things that can exhibit a concrete and specific language and style, mixed with my fascination for prehispanic cultures and pre-Columbian art. By connecting this interest within an object, I borrow from photography and cinematography as the visual expression to show my language, which is rooted in the appreciation of imperfection and impermanence as a gesture of beauty and our inevitable continuous flux through death. That’s why one of my fundamental techniques is to burn the wood, intended to communicate the passage of time and imperfection as an inevitable path to nothingness.

Your products are mostly characterized by the distressed and burned look of the material. How did you develop this technique, and what drove you to it?

By necessity to communicate further expressiveness in my pieces, I evaluated my process and looked for new ways to find something deeper in the finishes, rich and vast information to the senses. With this in mind, I looked into techniques that could supply these principles of multi-sensorial experiences. By investigation, I found the Yakisugi, a Japanese technique of curating the wood, and then I adopted and translated the technique into my own necessities, the rest has been experimentation and getting better each day by being my own teacher.

What should customers better understand about your work?

My main objective is to inject emotions of acceptance and appreciation for the constant movement of things, alive and non-alive, aligned with a precise development of forms and shapes that come from within. I feel grateful that many people have been connected with me on this journey when they acquired one of my pieces.

What is your favorite part of the process?

I could say the second stage is when the idea takes a more concrete form, and I know what I need to do. The first stage is having a vague idea that needs to be sketched, but in the second stage, the excitement arises. It’s when I need to create a mock-up, imagine the pieces in a location for photography and a short film, and know what instructions to give to my carpenters, a necessity to start now, to make, to create, I love that part.

Your work seems to be inspired by nature, where in your hometown in Colombia do you go for inspiration, and how is this journey part of the creative process?

I trust where nature wants to take me. I’m lucky to have lovely places around me, such as forests and mountains close to where I live. I took what I had around and translated it into my own expression.

You do a variety of objects, from Tabletop to Furniture. Do you approach all products the same way, or do you seek a different feel with each?

With the same approach, but always create something new, refreshing and unexpected, beyond the comfort zone, but always inside the same family, the same soul.

What makes you passionate about the work that you do?

The holistic view of my entire work, always from the same source, always from within, from the sharp edges of my chairs to the charred texture of a bowl, the music that I compose for my short videos, and the places that I choose for my photos. It all comes from the same feeling, the same approach, the same meaning.

As a Colombian designer, what part of your work or process best represents the cultural influence of your nation?

The influence of pre-Colombian geometries, the “rombo” is recurrent in many indigenous cultures around the country. I extrapolate those shapes with my main interest in the triangle, primitive shapes, and the representation of animals found in many archaeological sites. Those gestures are exhibited in my work.

What do you hope customers experience when they use your products? What has been your most memorable experience with a customer?

I want them to see themselves, accept their imperfections, and view them with love and care as I do with my pieces. One compliment I received was when someone told me that she had never seen work like mine before in her entire life, that was lovely.

What is the vision for your brand in the years to come?

The opportunity to continue, to expand into other areas like fashion design and watch design.

What Magazines, Blogs, or Newspapers do you read?

Pitchfork, I like to know about reviews of music, The Guardian, Vice, The Tao Te Ching for everyday living, and several YouTube channels about cinematography. About design and art, I don’t look at anything, I’m not interested.

What is your favorite or most influential book, and why?

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius is a book that shaped my perception of life and my work. It changed me. The tenets about imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness were described by the emperor of Rome centuries ago as Stoic doctrine, which I found fascinating. He’s like a mentor to me. I have one copy of the book from 1897 that I cherish.

What music sets the tone at your studio?

It depends on the activity. If it’s for thinking, I listen to cool jazz or classical music, experimental or ambient, when it comes to working with hands something more aggressive live hardcore or dark techno. But when I work with fire might be something vivid, like cumbia.

Thank you Camilo for sharing your journey!

Here is a link to Camilo’s work.

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