LZF co-founder Mariví Calvo first met JJ Belda when he rang the doorbell of her studio in The Bowery, New York, in the mid-1980s. It was the beginning of a friendship, one that led to the incorporation of JJ’s son into Mariví’s graphic design team at LZF in 2008.

José Juan Belda Inglés was a key member of the La Nave group, along with other prominent Valencian designers and creators. Throughout his fifty-year career, JJ’s work was marked by the Memphis design movement, a popular style throughout much of the 1980s. Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass founded the Memphis Group in 1981, and was its greatest exponent.

La Nave was a group of Spanish designers, active in Valencia between 1984 and 1991. It was made up of eleven professionals: Eduardo Albors, Paco Bascuñán, José Juan Belda, Carlos Bento, Lorenzo Company, Sandra Figuerola, Marisa Gallén, Luis González, Luis Lavernia, Nacho Lavernia, and Daniel Nebot (many of these individuals are now Spanish National Design Prize bearers). They worked as industrial and graphic designers, painters, architects, and quantity surveyors. As various commissions became available— in architecture, industrial design, illustration, graphic design, interior design, and so on—the La Nave members would tackle them individually or as a group. They were a true collective in every sense of the word, working in an old industrial space that was reminiscent of the Eames Office in Venice, California.

La Nave was vital to the development of a design community in Valencia. It became a reference point in the 1980s for what is now known as “Nou Diseny Valenciá” (new Valencian design).

The greatness of some is measured by the impact they create and leave behind them when they are gone. JJ Belda is one of those people: his contribution to Valencian design is all around us today, and lives on in the people who have inherited it. He will be dearly missed by us all.

By LZF co-founder Sandro Tothill.