Fallas and design, an experimental route
18 Mar 2022 /

Fallas and design, an experimental route

In recent years, design and fallas (monuments of a traditional celebration held in Valencia) have overlapped increasingly. There are a growing number of fallas committees which opt for innovative and experimental fallas, which has changed the approach to this festival, generating different monuments, with a combination of disciplines in which design is key, as well as the incorporation of new creators who do not have the tradition of the fallas in their background.

The Regional Association of Architects of Valencia (CTAV), in the framework of the official World Design Capital Valencia 2022 programme, has organised different guided visits to some of these fallas monuments, where architect Ricardo Ruiz and historian Alejandro Lagarda explained the philosophy of some of them.


CTAV exhibition. cremate the disseny
Fail City Hall Square
Lepanto–Guillem de Castro Fault
Borrul Fault – Socors
Mossén Sorell Fault – Corona
Ribesan fault. Ripalda – Charity – San Ramón
Na Jordana Fault
Exhibition ‘El llibret de Falla’ at the IVAM

The use of traditional and sustainable materials, where cork has been eschewed in favour of cardboard, wood, fabrics or straw is one of the factors which defines many of these fallas. In fact, some of them have reclaimed something which is not new, but which was the original tradition: using traditional materials which are much less polluting in their construction,” explains architect Ricardo Ruiz.

Different monuments, with a combination of disciplines in which design is key, as well as the incorporation of new creators who do not have the tradition of fallas in their background.

This is the start of the Falla Borrull – Socors festival, winning first prize in the Experimental Falla 2022 for its piece “Lin100ndi”, created by Miguel Hache, a work celebrating the hundred years of the falla.

The structure of this monument is a tower of matches which accompanies the children’s falla, where through fire and flames, the committee reflects on human emotions, feelings and perceptions under the slogan “my heart is burning”.

Additionally, sustainability is another of the issues addressed by some of the fallas this year, notably that of the Plaça de lAjuntament, by artists Dulk and Alejando Santaeulalia, a 22 metre tall homage to endangered species.

These fallas are also notable for being open to the community and the committee. They are much more participative during the year, with creative workshops which work on the final piece. They are also open to society, as many of them try to interact with the public, encouraging them to participate. They pose questions, tell stories, seek a way to make an impact on the people who see them, and they are not made just to be looked at,” explains Ruiz.

The inclusion of female fallas artists is also notable. “A larger proportion of women are making fallas for the experimental festival than for the traditional festival. Anna Ruiz, Julia Navarro, Reyes Pe, Maria Oliver and Marina Puche are examples of women who are doing very interesting things in the world of the fallas, and are pioneers in the history of the Valencian festival,” says Miguel Arraiz, fallas artist and one of the Valencian people who took a falla to Burning Man in the USA.

These fallas, made by women, often address taboo issues which are not always well-received by the more traditional audience. This has been the case of the Falla Lepanto – Guillem de Castro, where the figure of a naked woman was found one morning destroyed by vandalism, and quickly reconstructed, with a beautiful metaphor with flowers and colours. “This action demonstrates that the naked women continues to a taboo issue.” Its creator, fallas artist Anna Ruiz explains that in her opinion, “it is absolutely an act of gender-based violence”.

This shows that the issues of these fallas are also different, going far beyond the traditional satire of the festival. “Messages which go beyond being a criticism, with a necessary philosophical basis or assigning the falla to creative professionals who have nothing to do with the festival, these are some of the points which connect these fallas,” explains Roberto Heredia, fallas artist and architect.

In fact, these are the fallas which best connect this issue with their llibret (booklet), which always provides the cultural context and a connection which goes further than in the traditional fallas. The llibrets are published in collaboration with design professionals, and in recent years have won many national and international awards.

So much so, that the guided visit ended at the “El llibret de Falla” exhibition at the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), a collection of around one hundred copies dating from 1855 to the present day, including some of the most notable editions from recent years, in a kind of ephemeral library which allows you to touch, read and admire them.

Design has also come to the Fallas through their creators or artists. This year, this is the case of the Mossen Sorell – Corona falla, where designers María Pradera and Lorena Sayavera (Yinsen Studio) have recovered the basic elements from the origin of the fallas to reinterpret them from their own perspective. Criticism, irony and fire as an element of renewal are the key aspects of a submission which has extended into two editions, ending a story about a van, a robbery, millions of euros and a condemnation of the capitalist system in which we live.

We study part of some of these reflections about the Fallas and design in this video, explained by some key figures. In it we hear voices such as those of Ibán Ramón, Diego Mir and Fase Estudio, Pepe Latorre, Paco Pellicer, Lorena Sayavera, María Pradera and Reyes Pe.