Pablo Baqué is one half of design studio, Walk With Me. Together with his wife, Deira Reina, they have collaborated with international illustrators and brands to create unique maps, prints and smart travel accessories. The pair have an ingrained love of city life, particularly for Barcelona, London and their hometown Madrid. Frequenting local haunts, the sense of community and the delight in discovering the lesser known parts of your neighbourhood are all aspects of exploration that translate into their work and products.
Pablo chatted to us about the joys of paper, the provenance of materials and becoming an established lifestyle brand.
Hi Pablo! What is the creative community in Madrid like? Was it influential at all in the early stages of starting up your business?
The creative community in Madrid definitely motivated us in the first phases of our project. When we arrived in Madrid, six years ago now, we were lucky to have met various entrepreneurial people with magnificent projects that encouraged us to start Walk With Me. Today, those people are good friends. They’re like family - we help each other search for suppliers and find ways to improve our businesses together.
Walk With Me’s maps of the different boroughs in London are so brilliantly accurate. We love the use of bold colour and playful details. Was there something particular that attracted you to the city for this project? How did you decide which illustrators to commission?
We created the London collection after starting with Madrid and then following onto Barcelona. The truth is, it wasn’t even an option. It was something that we had in mind for a long time since Deira and I lived in London for almost 3 years before moving to Madrid.
Somehow, we knew that we would return to London. We had all the more reason to go back with Walk With Me. We honestly think London represents the best cosmopolitan city in Europe. For a long time many cultures have mixed and people and ideas are generated in a unique environment. We worked with curator Isa Roldan to choose the illustrators. Without a doubt, this entire project would not have been the same if it wasn't for her! The idea is to always work with local illustrators so we looked for artists living in the same neighbourhoods. In this way, the experience of living there was really expressed in the final illustrations.
What’s your favourite London haunt?
When I lived in London, I was settled in a warehouse in Hackney Wick. The night strolls along the canal were so relaxing. I’m not sure what this area is like now following the Olympics, but I remember it having lots of charm.
At what point did you decide to introduce a collection of travel accessories and produce leather goods alongside your maps?
Three years ago, Deira (my wife, and the other half the project) started to make bags and accessories for a brand she wanted to launch but in the end it didn’t go ahead due to a lack of funding.
Since then however, we have worked together on the Alegria Industries Project, where we designed and produced bags with summer in mind.
Following this, we decided we wanted Walk With Me to be much more than an illustration project. We want to generate products that accompany you on your day to day. Therefore, we have started creating a collection of urban bags and backpacks that will come to light this September.
Your studio looks so fresh, spacious and inviting. In what way does stationery and paper play a part in your creative process?
It plays a fundamental part. Everything we design and produce we do so with a clear idea: to solve a necessity that we have and cannot find on the market. I think that we are of the last generations to continue utilizing paper as a medium on which to capture ideas, notes, etc. It is something that makes us proud, but at the same time saddens us. Long live the paper! (recycled, of course...)
The Deren Pouch has become an essential travelling tool among the Papersmiths team. It’s durability makes it perfect for carrying our stationery around on a daily basis, and they look - and feel - so chic too. What’s your approach to the design of these products? How do you choose the materials and colour palettes?
The idea for the Deren collection came from the brand that Deira was not able to launch a few years ago. When we sat down, close to a year ago now, to establish this whole line of accessories, we came to many conclusions.
One of them was that it is expensive to produce in Europe. If we wanted to be competitive in the market, we had to look for a way to simplify the process. This is why the Deren collection is mostly made from a seamless, single piece of material.
Another was that we did not want to work with leather. We found a supplier who mixed recycled leather with a natural latex to creating a marvelous material. Part rigid and part rubbery, which was perfect for the Deren line.
Do you have a background in design? What inspires you on a day to day basis?
Well, Deira originally studied audio-visual communications and later did a Masters in scenography, and I am a photographer converted to a businessman. I have dedicated myself to more graphic design than photography over the past couple of years.
What inspires us, I believe, is our own life, things in our surroundings, necessities that emerge, and without a doubt, an immense desire to do things well done and with care.
We think the pocket guides to the best of Barcelona’s craft beer and speciality coffee are such a great idea. With the food and drink scenes rising in popularity in so many cities now, we imagine you’ve a long list of places you’d like to explore and map out next?
We launched the gastronomical guides with All Those, and we are very pleased. They were in charge of the content and we oversaw the designs. This type of product gets outdated so you have to update them every year and adapt them to include all the novelties. Therefore, we haven’t planned to continue making these maps unless we can find partners that can do the investigating and development of the contents.
Let’s go on a walk. Where will you take us?
We will take a walk through the Madrid mountain range to bathe in the river (it is currently 33 degrees in Madrid), and afterward, when the sun sets, come home to have dinner on the terrace.
Thank you Pablo!
Images by Pablo Baqué ©Walk With Me 2017