Ocular Friends

Interview with Salva Lopez & Yosigo

A shared passion for photography was the first spark that brought together Salva Lopez and José Javier Serrano – better known as Yosigo. It’s a spark that ignited a lasting friendship, leading to collaborative projects, a joint studio in Poblenou and even cohabitation.

Together they have created Have a Nice Book, an online platform dedicated to reviewing photo books and fanzines. The pair trawl bookshops across the globe and extensively research to find their favorite exemplars, before subjecting them to video reviews. Yosigo has also just printed his first book, Rio Avall, and Salva's work has been featured in such prestigious publications as Monocle, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. In addition, they publish Rocafort 153, a Tumblr that reveals daily life at their apartment. This is a duo that is at home both behind and in front of a lens.

Salva’s taste for furniture is apparent as soon as you step into their apartment. It’s an immaculate selection. The walls are adorned with photo prints, and there is an incredible array of photo books. Everything is imbued with a strong sense of visual identity, just as you’d expect from a pair of photography fiends.

When did your relationship with photography begin?

Yosigo: I’ve always been passionate about photography; the ability to freeze an instant and keep it forever seemed fascinating. My serious involvement in it began when I started studying graphic design, when photography became one of my main subjects.

Salva: For me, it started quite late – in 2007, when I bought my first digital reflex camera. After that, I was obsessed with photography and wanted to turn it into my profession, not just a hobby.

Your main collaborative project is Have A Nice Book. How did you come up with the idea?

Yosigo: It basically came out of our common passion for photography books and fanzines. We created an online platform to show each other all the books we came across during our travels, through short videos. Instead of using e-mail transfers, we set up a website so that other people could watch our book videos too. The most difficult part was coming up with a name for it. We had the whole idea in mind and as soon as we got the name we started recording and uploading videos showing all kinds of photo books.

What’s so special about photo books in your opinion?

Salva: I think they’re the best way to review photographic work, although not all types of photography agree with this format. Nowadays there's a trend of making photo books, when maybe that's not always the best way to show your work.

Yosigo: It's a great medium to share your photographic essays. What I particularly like is the merging of all these different aspects: graphic design, curation and artistic concepts.

Many of your photo books seem to be part of the decoration. Do you perceive them as small pieces of art?

Yosigo: Our books are part of our lives, they stimulate our imagination. They might look like pieces of decoration in our living context, but we see them more like artworks. If I had more money, I'd invest in more work by my favorite artists. Since that’s almost an impossible option for me now, an art book is a sort of direct connection to someone you admire.

Have you ever bought a book because of its cover?

Salva: Sure, many times.

Yosigo: Yes, me too. It’s the same with music, sometimes you just buy an album because of its cover. The design component is indeed very present in publications. It's not a bad thing to feel attracted to a book on account of its design. Of course, a great photo book has to combine good design with even better photography. Having said that, I've also bought bad-looking books that featured amazing photography.

Salva, your interest in interior design is quite obvious. Is there a piece of furniture you find really special?

Salva: One of my favorite pieces is the Alvar Aalto stool. It's so functional and beautiful in all its simplicity. Same goes for timeless Vitra pieces – you can’t go wrong with them. Years go by, and they still work.

How did you start collecting the pieces you own?

Salva: When I got into furniture, the work of Charles and Ray Eames was what I first came across. As soon as I managed to save some money, I bought the Eames House Bird and the Occasional Table LTR. Beistelltisch.

What purpose should a piece serve in your home?

Salva: Well, each piece should have a purely aesthetic role. Even though I value function, beauty is even more important to me.

How do you decide where to place your furniture?

Salva: I don’t usually have a set position for my furniture, I like to move them around from time to time. Besides, I’m not sure how many flats I’ll change in my life, so I like to think that these pieces are adaptable enough to fit in any space.

Would you like to expand your collection?

Salva: There are so many things I want that I don’t know where to start. I think the very next thing I’ll try to get my hands on is an Akari Light Sculpture by Isamu Noguchi.

There are many photo prints hanging on your walls. In our digital era, is there a need to display the good pieces in tangible copies?

Yosigo: I suppose, yes. We all have thousands of pictures in our hard drives, but we need to have some of them printed out – not just in publications, but also individual prints to hang on the walls. To be able to see them and surround ourselves with them.

The light in your flat is amazing. Did it inspire you to start Rocafort 153, the Tumblr page dedicated to your personal space?

Yosigo: It truly did. Before I moved here, I did a similar project at my home in Hondarribia. But the light here is astonishing – it's definitely the best feature of this flat.

Salva: The idea behind this blog is to have it as a kind of family album, so when we are old, and of course if Tumblr still exists, we’ll be able to look back to those wonder years of youth.

What are your future plans personally and professionally?

Yosigo: I just arrived in this city, so to speak. I would like to spend a few more years here, charge my batteries and move back to the north of Spain. I'd like to keep working in the same field and live between Hondarribia and Barcelona.

Salva: I have no clue. Right now, we are building a new photographic studio called Rocafort to work in fashion photography. Let's see how it goes. In the future, I'll probably continue living in Barcelona, taking pictures. Maybe I'll try out new disciplines, such as product or interior design, who knows. I've always been restless.

See more of this portrait on Freunde von Freunden.


Publication Date: 24.9.2015
Author: Silvia Conde
Images: Silvia Conde
Editor: Effie Efthymiadi