RS2, when a football table and the design join forcesTheir workshop had been producing components for other brands for more than 30 years when Rafa and Sergio, the second generation of a family of metalwork artisans, decided to take the plunge and set about designing their own football table, the likes of which had never been seen before. Thanks to the innovative and timeless design of the RS2, the football table left the garage and took up its place in the living room, the nerve centre of the home. A design icon was born, the very embodiment of the harmonious relationship possible between play and design.
Cupid’s arrow dipped in design
Surrounded by pieces of sheet metal amid the deafening hammering of machines… It’s hardly the most auspicious start to a first date. But that’s how RS Barcelona and Vinçon—Barcelona’s leading design store—first met. Fernando Amat, Vinçon’s co-owner, showed up at the RS Barcelona workshop and fell in love with the half-finished football table, with the passion of its creators and with a workshop that exuded craftsmanship. Two days later, the first RS2 was on display in the Vinçon store window; it was sold within a matter of hours.
The year of the tweetIn the year of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart, the solar system lost a planet when Pluto’s status was downgraded to that of a dwarf planet after failing to meet the new criteria established by 2,500 scientists to define a full-sized planet. Moving on from planets to superstars, Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors, the second-highest total in NBA history, only surpassed by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in 1962. This could have been the first tweet in history but that particular honour went to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder, who on 21 March 2006 posted a tweet that read “Just setting up my twttr”.
Wall Champions, from the playing field to the wallThe creative itch is not like a clock whose batteries can be removed. It follows you around, invades your thoughts and can’t be stopped. And so it was that when the RS2 was just one summer old, the players took a leap from the football pitch onto the wall. We’re referring to the Wall Champions, a coat hook that’s not only easy on the eye but practical too, with a cheerful and sporty feel. This addition to our football universe was an innovative talking point.
An Italian-accented encounterOur first appearance at a major design event was no ordinary affair. We aimed high, but with the modesty and enthusiasm of those who are just starting out. Milan. Design Week. Fuorisalone. Tortona Zone. Superstudio Più. Seven days are more than enough to get to know all the neighbouring exhibitors. We really hit it off with Stone Designs. Perhaps it was the Mediterranean spirit and accent we share. They had designs bubbling away in their heads and we had the craftsmanship to bring them to life. A simple “Hi, I’m Rafa” and “Hi, we’re Eva and Cutu” was all we needed to start creating together.
Phelps or the iPhone?Two big stars battled it out for the spotlight in 2007. One of them did his talking in the swimming pool. Michael Phelps, the Baltimore Bullet, broke five world records and won seven gold medals in the 2007 World Aquatics Championships, held in Melbourne. The other contender arrived on the scene to revolutionise the world of telecommunications, technology, photography, home videos… just about everything! On 9 January, Steve Jobs surprised us with the very first iPhone. Fast-forward 14 years and the current model is the iPhone 12.
Intense livingTwo words pulsating with energy that capture the essence of our company. Intense living encapsulates our life philosophy. It’s all about living each moment to the full, about having fun, about putting your heart and soul into whatever you do, without imposing limits on yourself or being afraid to forge ahead. It’s about knowing when to pause for thought, devoting some time to yourself and to those you share your life with. A sack full of indelible memories, of the sort that remind you that life is there to be lived intensely and in company.
New languagesIt was a year of great changes, of new perspectives. A year in which we learned how to work with new materials; metal is in our DNA but now it was time to learn to speak new languages, time to learn the ins and outs of shaping wood, caressing cotton and wool, and blowing glass. This was the launch year of the first items designed by Stone Designs for RS Barcelona: the indomitable On the Road bench; the eye-popping By Yourshelf shelving system; or the Spongy sofa and easy chair, always ready to welcome you with their fluffy cushions. It was the year we saw our work printed out on 95 pages: the first RS Barcelona catalogue. And what a splendid catalogue it was!
Yes we canThe Obama year. The first black president in the White House thanks to an overwhelming victory at the ballot box. The winds of change were blowing hard, but this would not be the only hurricane to hit the headlines. Beijing unleashed all its power and China opened up to the world with the Olympic Games, at which an unstoppable Caribbean wind called Usain Bolt—nicknamed Lighting Bolt—broke every record going. The fastest man in the world. Meanwhile, on another Caribbean island, Cuba, President Fidel Castro stepped down after 49 years in power.
Know-howThe launch of our first catalogue with our new range of furniture added a whole new dimension to our daily activity. Bending and welding metal is not the same as sewing linen or polishing birch wood. Each material has its own complexities. Plenty of expertise and know-how were required to ensure that the strap of the On the Road bench fitted naturally, that the cushion of the Sake pouf would be fluffy without losing its shape, and that the folds of the Drops table evoked rain. Nonstop adaptation and learning.
Reinventing ourselvesJust three years earlier, we had presented ourselves as the brand that had reinvented the football table. In 2009 we reinvented ourselves through a catalogue brimming with inspiration and items with which to decorate and furnish spaces for bold and intense living. Now it was time to make the world fall in love with them as it had with the RS2. Ready, steady, go.
A king dies, a currency is bornA new currency burst onto the market on 3 January 2009. It didn’t belong to a particular country. It couldn’t fit in your pocket or wallet. It wasn’t regulated by any official body. It was a cryptocurrency that went by the name of bitcoin. It may sound like fiction but fast-forward a few years to see what has become of it. A few days later, Barack Obama was sworn in as US president and before the year drew to a close he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Our idol, Pau Gasol, didn’t win a Nobel prize, but he did become the first Spaniard to slip on an NBA Championship ring. Michael Jackson said goodbye but he’ll forever be the King of Pop in the afterlife.
The toughness of paperSome news reached us from the other side of the world that made our eyes sparkle. Shigeki Fujishiro, a Japanese designer, had designed a tough, hard-wearing stool out of paper. Paper and toughness, two concepts that might seem mutually exclusive. A phone call. A flight from Tokyo to Barcelona. A visit to the Pere Pons recycled paper factory. And the material we needed: a recycled paper pulp composite so hard that it had to be cut with the same machines we use for folding metal. We’re referring to our Eiffel paper stool, capable of withstanding anything and anyone. Its bare three-legged structure is what makes it so attractive and bold: a surprisingly simple and minimalist design brought to life. Inspired by Paris, designed in Tokyo and manufactured in Barcelona.
I love NYEntering the US market can be quite a daunting prospect; it can make you feel small and it seems a long way away. But, on reflection, it’s only eight hours away. Our compass pointed west, to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. So, with a fair wind, we headed to America, making a beeline for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City, planting our intense living flag right in the epicentre of design of the Big Apple and gaining a foothold in the US market. But we didn’t do it alone; we were in the safe and expert hands of our US agent, Andrea Ching.
Dust in the windThere was a smell of burning in 2010. The eruptions of the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland turned the sky of Europe grey and its ashes created chaos in the skies, grounding global air traffic. Meanwhile, the Internet was abuzz with the secrets of the Pentagon published by WikiLeaks, whose founder and spokesperson, Julian Assange, found himself the target of persecution. In other news, the streets of cities all over the world were invaded by a new species: guys with beards, plastic-frame glasses and plaid shirts who loudly proclaimed their “rejection” of mainstream trends and culture. Yes, the hipsters had arrived.
Female powerOur family of football tables welcomed a new addition. The RS3 arrived on the scene with a lighter look, sleeker lines and more striking colours, but with the same toughness and superb gameplay as its bigger cousin, the RS2. And with it, a new star ran out onto the playing field. It was time for Her debut. Finally, the first female football table player. An aspiration, a sign of our commitment to equality. Because we’ve always believed in the power of sport and play as an instrument of cohesion and union between people. Now it was Her turn, and on our football tables there are no physical differences apart from the obvious ones. Ours is an equal playing field.
París, Oh là là2011 was the year that we set France in our sights. And there’s no better calling card for entering the exclusive universe of Parisian design than Maison et Objet. We brought our intense living lifestyle—and an Eiffel Tower composed of more than 25 Eiffel stools—to the Now pavilion. A real statement of intent. A freezing January in Paris posed a challenge but we rise to challenges and 2011 proved to be the first of many winters at M&O.
Hey SiriHey Siri, who did we say goodbye to in 2011? To my father, Steve Jobs; to Amy Winehouse, who joined the 27 Club; to the Oprah Winfrey Show, after 25 years on air; and to Osama bin Laden, public enemy number one of the USA. Hey Siri, who did we say hello to? To the world’s seven billionth baby; to the HBO series Game of Thrones; to the Year of the Rabbit; to the Kepler-11 planetary system; to the new, young North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un; to the HPTN 052 clinical trial of antiretroviral therapy, which marked a big step forward in the fight against HIV; and to me, Siri, when I entered millions of homes around the world as the voice assistant of the iPhone 4S. Hey Siri, what do you wish hadn’t happened in 2011? The Fukushima nuclear accident, the worst one since the Chernobyl disaster.
More woodThe RS3 Wood is the consequence of our refusal to conform, of our determination to discover the language spoken by different materials in order to understand each other and create harmony. Because when you mix and fuse together two good ingredients, the result is always a surprise. Like this new member of the RS Barcelona football table family. The wood gives the metal a more welcoming look, a sensation of warmth and naturalness. But the choice of wood type is no coincidence. We chose iroko because we remain strongly committed to enjoying intense living outdoors, without walls to enclose the landscape.
The Milan matchThe famous Salone del Mobile. At some point we had to go for it and take our place at the Master of Masters. In 2012, we did it; our collection of football tables entered the “temple” of design. We created our own intense living universe in which balls clicked nonstop against metal and players worked up a thirst in match after match. Il Salone also marked the arrival of a new addition—Isabel—to our team, which little by little was gaining new experiences, personalities, points of view and a strong commitment to grow together. 2012 was our first Milan; there are surely more to come.
End of an era2012 in figures: Instagram, the digital Polaroid, reached 100 million users before its second birthday, while Facebook achieved the milestone of 1 billion active monthly users. Spotify grew by over 130%. The most spine-chilling record of the year was the one achieved by the video of “Gangnam Style”, a song by the South Korean singer PSY. More than 1 billion views smashed the record for the most-viewed video on YouTube. And before the year drew to a close, Obama tweeted “4 more years” on being returned to the White House for a second term.
Sublime You and Me2013 was the Chinese Year of the Snake. For us, it was the year of You and Me. A new game entered our universe of play, where we’re in our element. For the design of the You and Me ping-pong table, we turned to Antoni Pallejà Office. We had a gut feeling that it had to be him. We were completely bowled over with the initial sketches, and once we had the first prototypes we knew it was going to become another icon, just like the RS2. Its simple forms, sleek lines and discrete side drawer offered the perfect blend of sportiness and elegance in a sublime design. There had never been a ping-pong table like it.
A Solomonic decisionThe sales of You and Me went through the roof thanks to customers like Design Within Reach, which meant we had to make some rather drastic decisions. Our production capacity was limited and we could no longer meet the demands of RS Barcelona’s own customers while also manufacturing for third-party customers, which we were still doing at our factory. The decision was clear and there was no going back: from now on, our machines would only work at the pace imposed by our own collection. The intense living dream required all our energy. It was time to part ways with customers who had been with us since our early days. But our shared memories and friendship would remain.
Someone’s listeningWatch out! They’re spying on you. And we’re not referring to Google or Facebook, who follow you around as you hop from link to link. Edward Snowden, a former employee of NSA, blew the whistle: the US secret services were spying on and listening to millions of people all over the world. A can of worms had been opened in the world of international diplomacy. Who knows whether it was to distract us from the spying, but a meteor exploded over Russia. So many satellites and telescopes pointing at space and none of them saw it coming. Another explosion, this time in the world of finances: the bitcoin. The value of the cryptocurrency created in 2009 reached $1,000 and continued to rise. The year ended on a sad note as we bade farewell to Nelson Mandela. The great leader had left us, but his legacy of inspiration would endure.
Around the tableGastronomy, play and design joined forces in our latest bright idea, which came about through a collaboration with leading chef José Andrés and the artistic touch of Juli Capella. The RS2 Dining offers an exciting eating out experience. José Andrés needed a special ingredient in his restaurants. Something out of the ordinary. When he saw the RS2 he had a lightbulb moment and decided to incorporate it in his culinary universe. His wish was our command. A football table to eat on, or a dining table to play on. Now we’d entered the culinary fray, we thought we might as well go the whole hog with the launch of our Mon Oncle portable barbecue, designed by the Mermelada design studio. A creative adventure, offering a fresh, original way to turn an ordinary experience like a barbecue into a truly special one. Authentic flavour concealed in a briefcase.
Best of yearThe You and Me ping-pong table was a source of great joy for us in 2014, and not only thanks to the enthusiastic reception it received from customers and media outlets, or to the brisk pace of sales growth. Interior Design Magazine gave it one of its Best of Year awards for the most important and significant designs of the year. The news filled us with joy and pride, reaffirming us in the conviction that the path we’d travelled and the route we’d marked out for the future were the right ones. We could move forward confidently.
The big freezeIt was just an ordinary Wednesday at the turn of 2014 when an Artic cold front suddenly swept across the USA and Canada, leaving teeth chattering with minimum temperatures of below ‑30ºC. It was also pretty cold at a height of 541 metres, on the roof of the Freedom Tower, built on the foundations of the Twin Towers in New York. And Argentinian hearts were frozen when Germany beat Argentina on the World Cup Final in Brazil. If you don’t believe us, just ask Alexa, Siri’s cousin who works for Amazon.
You and Me becomes a collectionOne of the many qualities of You and Me are its twin functions of ping-pong table and dining/meeting table. To give the latter use more coherence, we launched our You and Me bench range, with measurements and finishes that adapt to the sizes and lines of the table. They speak to each other and understand each other perfectly. These compact and versatile matching sets create welcoming atmospheres to contain all the moments you can imagine. It goes without saying that the benches also function as standalone items, away from the You and Me table.
Contract moodMany things have changed since our beginnings, not least ourselves! Our products began to venture beyond the home setting. Our intense living philosophy found its way into offices and hotels. We learned to operate in the contract sector, rising to the challenge of more ambitious projects, with new demands. We were ready; our products not only fulfilled the required standards of quality, but also generated a buzz and met the created expectations. We proved our readiness at the HD Expo in Las Vegas, returning to Barcelona with a Best Booth Winner Award.
The two sides of 2015Apart from being one of the hottest years on record, 2015 brought migration drama in Europe—where more than a million refugees arrived after risking their lives in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to reach a better future—and tragedy in France, in the form of terrible terrorist attacks. But it was also the year in which water was found on Mars, making us consider the possibility of the existence of life beyond our planet. It was the year in which the USA and Cuba shook hands after 54 years of conflict. And it was the year in which two brothers, Marc and Pau Gasol, faced off against each other in the first jump ball of the NBA All-Star game.
All that glitters is goldBy now, we were making inroads into new markets around the world, which meant adapting to new trends and tastes. This was the thinking behind The Gold Edition: bespoke formalwear for our iconic football tables, dressing them to the nines with 24k gold-plated features. A subtle touch of sophistication. This was also the year in which we launched our manifesto for family games and our RS4Fun, the first football table that can be adapted to the height of players, growing with their imagination. Put those mobile phones away; it’s time for some proper playtime.
10 November10 November 2016 is a date that will live forever in our memories. That night, we opened the doors of our own showroom in Barcelona, creating an atmosphere that exudes intense living, inspiration and design, bringing out of the playful side of those who enter. In fact, it’s more than just a showroom; it’s a concept store featuring brands we’ve come across on our travels, who’ve followed us on our journey and with whom we share values, dreams and aspirations. We like to call them our RS Friends. On 10 November 2016 we all shared a historic night of memories and emotions.
Go Pokemon, GoThe streets were invaded by people who, with their mobile phones, hunted down and tried to capture Pikachu and his friends. It was the year of Pokemon Go. And that of Trump, who against all predictions made it to the White House. Trump’s was not the only new era to begin; 2016 also marked the start of the Brexit era, after the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union and began negotiating the terms of divorce. Meanwhile, other eras came to an end. The swimmer Michael Phelps retired after the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where he added another six medals to his tally, bowing out with a grand total of 28 Olympic medals! Cuba and the rest of the world bade farewell to Fidel Castro, who died at 90 years of age; the same number of years celebrated that year by Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom. And that’s not one of the fake news items that began to proliferate online in that year.
The beauty of the foldOur collaboration with the Antoni Pallejà design studio has been incredibly productive. When we work together, we create an unstoppable whirlwind of creativity and enthusiasm. The Plec table collection was the result of one of these dynamic encounters. Together or as standalone items, their folds play with the light, creating effects and shadows that lend a unique atmosphere to spaces. We also applied folding functionality to our ping-pong tables, launching the RS Ping-Pong range, designed by Rafael in our workshop. Two versions: stationary and folding. Design and versatility. Pure balance.
More and a little moreThe RS Barcelona team continued to grow and establish itself at the same pace as its collection, keeping up with the markets, its customers and the fairs and events it attended. In 2017 we showed the Plec collection for the first time at Maison et Objet, in Paris. Meanwhile, the RS Ping Pong Folding was unveiled at the ICFF, in New York, and at the HD Expo, in Las Vegas. And we returned to Milan as part of a Fuorisalone exhibition at the Palazzo Isimbardi, fittingly entitled “Inspired in Barcelona: In & Out”.
Planet Earth cries outPlanet Earth flexed it muscles and made us realise that, when it comes down to it, we are insignificant to her: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires, hurricanes… Perhaps it was time to listen to her cries. Women also spoke out against sexual harassment and the #MeToo hashtag went viral. And we began to grasp the incredible technological potential of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), which enabled us to switch off the lights and turn on the heating through a simple voice order.
Designer cannonsIn 2018, we turned our attention to pool. Our creativity was sparked once again, this time by the precision, elegance and atmosphere of this cue sport. An all-time classic which we were keen to reinterpret and bring into our universe of intense living, just as we had done with table football and ping-pong. The ideas flowed with the Valencia-based design studio Yonoh; everything fell into place and the Diagonal took shape in record time. A pool table with perfectly simple, artful and timeless lines, filling a space from end to end with design, elegance and playfulness.
Playful officesWork spaces were evolving, becoming places that encouraged people to gather together to share their experiences and knowledge. This sharing process inspires good ideas, generates healthy and welcoming workplaces, and nourishes creativity. Play is the best ally for bringing people together and making them feel part of a team. We were well aware of this fact, and this is the attitude we took to Orgatec, the most important office sector fair in Europe: “Great ideas come from playful minds”. It was a new territory in which to explore, create and learn.
A new referee comes into playIn the year that marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, the streets of Paris teemed with yellow vests and a caravan of immigrants of the like never seen before headed towards the USA from Honduras, making life complicated for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, at the FIFA Word Cup, a new element came into play. It was called VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and it was designed to help match officials with difficult decisions. The year ended on a sad note as we said goodbye to Stan Lee, or Mr Marvel, the creator of Spiderman, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men.
Four stories in one yearWe had an eclectic, prolific and productive year, launching four items that conjure up different settings: chatting in a bar, in the case of the strikingly charming Ombra stool, by Emiliana Design Studio; conversations around a large family table, in the case of the versatile B-around, by Antoni Pallejà Office; moments of quiet reflection, in the case of the discrete Diagonal cart, by the Yonoh Design Studio; and dipping your feet in the great ocean of the beach lifestyle, in the case of the fresh-looking Nansa bag, by Andreu Carulla, inspired by the sea. Four new adventures joined our collection, a collection that exudes intense living with a limitless imagination.
Making a moveGreat changes took shape. The workshop in Viladecans and the warehouse in Abrera appeared to be shrinking. Or maybe we were outgrowing them. Finding the perfect place to build our new facilities would be no easy task. But while the search got underway, we decided to make a move and transfer our warehouse to a larger space in Viladecans with greater production and stock capacity. And before the year ended, we opened RS Barcelona LLC, our company in the USA. A great step forward for meeting the demands of our customers and projects across the pond.
Female powerThe FIFA World Cup in France was a watershed moment for women’s football. The record attendance numbers at stadia and the record viewing numbers on screens showed how important women were for sport and the tournament proved to be a fantastic showcase for the women’s game. Outside the stadium, on the spring floor, the US athlete Simone Biles won us over with her pirouettes and became the best gymnast of all time with 23 world records. Her triumph was as dazzling as the first photographs taken of a black hole more than 55 million light years away from the Earth.
Playing it small or going bigOur football table collection continued to grow. And not only in terms of the number of different models but also in size. We wanted to take the fun to the max and we achieved it with our RS MAX, the eight-player version of the RS3 Wood, offering double the excitement. Meanwhile, for playing at home with the family, we created the RS4 Home, our lightest football table for players of all ages. What’s more, it comes in optimised packaging to reduce its environmental impact. Two tables for enjoying the passion and thrills of football, whether playing it small or going big.
Drawings and projectWe’ve found the site! We’re the proud new owners of 8,500 m2 in Olesa de Montserrat, where we’ll build the new facilities of RS Barcelona. A new era is ready to begin. The drawings have marked out the lines and the rendering software has given shape to the ideas and dreams that we’ve gone over so many time in our heads. Days of vertigo, days of trepidation. But it’s just another challenge to add to the many we’ve faced over the last 15 years. We’ve approached every single one of them in exactly the same way: with a playful attitude. We’re ready to carry on playing. Will you join us?
COVID-192020 caught us unawares. That ominous name, Covid-19, arrived from China. All of a sudden, we were plunged into a pandemic that could be summed up in a hashtag: #stayhome. Many will say it was a year to forget, to erase from the calendar. And they’re right. But we wouldn’t be true to our intense living philosophy if we didn’t look for the positive side of this madness. The year gave us an opportunity to pause for thought, to reorder our priorities and enjoy time, whether alone or in company. To find meaning in every small moment. To appreciate what we had before, to look after it, and to strive to ensure it couldn’t be taken away from us again.