The millenarianists


A. The name of your studio – EQUIP (TEAM) – says a lot about your work philosophy. How important are synergies between different professionals to you?
If you do not expand you do not progress. We are an EQUIP (team) of different professionals but we are not always the same ones, each project calls for the participation of a new professional. Things have to be shared out, and we need to know how to find the people we need at a given moment. Our philosophy is to let the person who knows best get on with it, and if that is not one of us, then we have to locate that person.

B. This is highly related to the fact that EQUIP divides its functions into an agency and a laboratory. How did you get the idea of creating a department for experimentation? Do they provide each other with feedback? Do they ever worry that many of the uncommissioned projects you create never find a sponsor?
The Laboratory and the Agency were created out of the desire to find a place in the world, from a situation of unease about our professional future, and after observing people’s unsatisfied needs. There are questions that are just there and have to be answered. Maybe the client that commissions you with asking them has not come along yet, but the situation is there. The Lab was born of this visionary tendency and propositional attitude, which works on needs that have been detected, regardless of whether we have been contracted to answer them.
For example, now the Lab is developing what we call SmartLiving or a way to build affordable but quality housing.

C. Are there limits to architecture? Are there architects with limits?
We do not see limits as a stable frontier. The development of a client’s needs through our proposals is what determines the point that one wants to reach or can reach, and this is always variable.

D. Companies in Spain have great or little capacity to invest in design and risk in general.
In this country, there is a certain tendency to think that 2+2 = 4 and people tend to act to make 2+2 equal 73. But it is neither one thing nor the other. We think that anything in which people participate require strategies with a great deal of flexibility and the ability to change pre-conceived ideas which are difficult to explain as a whole, and sometimes 2+2 = bright green. The lack of a risk-taking attitude is the result of a structural laziness in the way people in this country think, and of many deeply-rooted hang-ups. The idea of “let others do the inventing” still prevails.

E. And talking of risks taken on and overcome, in the beginning your Galactic Suite project sounded like a utopia, but it has come through. How did the idea of making a hotel in space come about? There is no aeronautics tradition in Spain, how did you go about finding a sponsor?
The idea came from the realisation of a basic fact: a lot of people are interested in going into space. From this point you have to find the people and resources and prepare the context to achieve your objective. Galactic Suite came from the Lab, based on technological innocence and a total lack of inhibition. Once we got started on it we had a twofold surprise. On the one hand we discovered that there were people that wanted to develop an aerospace industry in Catalonia and Spain. And secondly, we discovered that the technology to implement the project actually existed in the world. As of that moment, the world economic crisis made it more difficult to find an investor, but now it is up and running.
You start thinking about what you need, what people want and then you find a way to make it come true. The first stage is to stave off the criticism from people who say it is impossible, but who then go all quiet when someone says that it is feasible. If you keep on pushing it eventually happens.

F. How does it work? Six weeks of training for 3 days in space. How important is the experience factor in architecture?
You need physical and psychological preparation, then you have a unique experience, and the result has to be a person with another vision of our planet and its fragility. Realising the obvious sometimes calls for a major effort. When the tourists return they will have to help to communicate what they have discovered about themselves and the planet up there.
We work for people, and in any project, be it industrial design, jewellery or architecture, the main objective is to invite the user to do something, to participate, to act in order to make the product, the jewel or space their own. Our projects are increasingly more about proposing experiences that people can really have.

G. Tell us about the inside of this orbital hotel. What other space installations have you created?
Galactic Suite Design, a company that promotes aerospace experiences, was created from the orbital hotel. The idea is to be able to provide a recreational experience for people at any height, from the seabed to a future space trip to colonise Mars. Galactic Suite is part of this line, but there is also a suborbital balloon, an airship, a shelter in the Himalayas…

H. Aren’t you afraid that the success of the project in the media might detract from the rest of your projects?
You should never be afraid of anything! Projects aim to solve needs; they are not about achieving notoriety. However, there are some very ambitious projects that require a lot of notoriety to attract the greatest possible number of people to develop and fund them. This is why Galactic Suite needs a great deal of notoriety; it has to be popular. First of all because one of its objectives is to inform people about space, and secondly because it needs exposure to generate confidence among investors and possible industrial participants. Sometimes making noise is fundamental.

I. How does Xavier Claramunt picture the city of the future? Do you feel that you are a millenarianist, do you believe that we will eventually colonise the other planets?
Yes, we will eventually colonise planets. There are already projects on Mars, and Galactic Suite Design has also participated in some of them. And the fashion is back with us again, as is the need to land on the moon, which is the festive and popular part of leveraging the satellite as a scientific and technical test bench for the colonisation of space and the search for energy alternatives for Earth. Without forgetting the more intangible part of the thought of who we are as a species and the reason for our existence.
This movement also includes the Google Lunar X-Prize in which we participate as part of the Barcelona Moon Team.

J. Your study created controversy in 2007 with the catalogue of skyscrapers like the prefabricated houses of the United States. Is there a market for a proposal like this one in a world that is tending towards individualisation?
Yes, and particularly for that reason, for the need that people have to make their very own space. At the moment, we are developing what we call SmartLiving, a proposal for affordable and quality housing. The strategy consists of building a house with basic finishes that the user can decide to complete later. SmartLiving achieves an ultra-competitive price by eliminating middlemen because it is a company that integrates the design team, the builder and the funding all in a single company.

K. Why are EQUIP’s studios abroad installed in Hangzhou and China? One might think that countries like the latter are not particularly renowned for their creativity.
China is creative! It is true that they copy, but afterwards they learn and make proposals in a very short period of time. And they do not do so merely in the areas of design, they have a no-hang-ups attitude in all disciplines and this allows them to come up with surprising answers. We often do not like them, their dynamics tend to throw you, but they are creative! Do you remember when some ads showed Japanese people frenetically snapping away at a European product to copy it? Does anyone now think that the Japanese only copy?

L. I won’t ask you if EQUIP can work to different scales, because it is evident that it does, and very well at that. Have you ever thought about creating synergies not only with designers and architects, but also with other disciplines?
Galactic Suite has already had to source professionals from different disciplines. In fact, approaching a project without any prejudices usually calls for the participation of professionals from outside the sphere of architecture. And this is true for any sector. Architecture is a discipline of integration, increasingly more complex, that needs the person who knows what to do to do it. The professional who does everything, an attitude traditionally held by the architect, cannot provide the complex response needed now. There are some professionals who can integrate and lead a complex group, and that is definitely the architect we need.

M. As for industrial design, tell us one of the products that you are proud of.
The packaging for a jewellery company, DuchClaramunt. Rather than somewhere to keep the piece of jewellery, it is the preparation of the magic moment when a gift is made. It invites the user to draw out the moment the jewel is given to make it an experience that heightens expectation and makes the final moment an explosive one.

N. Who are your reference architects? Some people talk about synergy, name me someone from any area who has been a clear reference for you.
The truth is that there are a lot of people who do a great job. When I was younger I did have architects I looked up to, now I admire people who do things, who propose, regardless of discipline.

O. You got into the design world through jewellery. What influence has this had on your facet as an architect and product designer?
Material, inventiveness and immediacy: the speed with which a proposal becomes a constructed object is a source of pleasure. It is the pleasure of the craftsman who sees the product taking shape second by second, and at the end of the day he has something to feel proud of. It is both a basic and necessary pleasure.

P. You once said that products are instruments to answer people’s questions. Now that the concept of ”own universe” is being promoted, how do you know that you are answering the right questions?
Knowing how to ask the right question is what matters. In fact, there are many people capable of giving brilliant answers, but not all of them are capable of asking the question.

Q. Equip has a new way of conceiving ideas and work. Have you thought about creating your own school?
The best school is for anyone to copy you as they want, in ways they think will help them to progress and deliver the right answers. Creating your own school is like opening the gate to the cemetery. Transmission has to be based on offer, generosity, not on explanation. Self service!

R. You are a man of ideas. Give us a good tip to help creativity flow.
Get rid of your hang-ups and just do it!

S. Recommend a book, a restaurant, a film and a museum.
I do not read, I do not go to the cinema, I do not visit museums, but I do eat. My latest surprise was a winery where you can also dine, I like spaces that can be used for more than one activity and which let you make them your own. I think the place is called Monvinic.

Interview with Xavier Claramunt, founder of EQUIP


In 1990, Xavier Claramunt founded ADD+, a multidisciplinary company now called EQUIPxavierclaramunt. Its main lines of work are Architecture, Industrial Design, Jewellery and the more novel “Respostes” (“Answers” in Catalan). The latter seeks to answer questions from clients that wish to take on new challenges. During Renacer 07, Xavier Claramunt presented the project Galactic Suite, a hotel in space, underlining the need to reinvent the way we see things, approach people and act without any hang-ups and by offering proposals. This is all done from the LAB, the place where the unknown is prepared, a kind of “pre-season” where new ideas are planned. Any idea is valid, even mistakes are positive, as they accumulate experience.

How have the Sea Suite and Galactic Suite projects evolved? Have your goals been accomplished?
Both projects are up and running. Galactic SUITE is much more advanced. We have found part of the funding and are now building a pilot room. The Sea Suite is on stand by due to a legal problem. The inertia of Galactic Suite has spawned new projects such as galacticsuiteHIMALAYAS, the development of a hotel on the summit of the Himalaya mountain range, galacticsuiteNEARESPACE, which consists of the development of a reusable inflatable aircraft to initially house 6 passengers and one crew member at a height of 40 km, in the so-called “near-space” area, where passengers can observe deep space and a considerable curvature of the horizon, or galacticsuiteMOONrace whose mission is to land on the moon and travel 500 metres and send images and data of the Moon back to Earth.

Has the design of projects for the “luxury” sector been affected in this period of global crisis? Is the well-off client of today the same as yesterday?
Basically, things move more slowly. The luxury sector has changed very little.

Has the work done at LAB had to adapt to the crisis? How do they see the future at LAB?
The thing is that as there is less funding you can do fewer things. In our case everything slows down. But the LAB is still the cornerstone of research in our company, which is undoubtedly even more important in times of recession. They adapt proposals to the new situation and harder times, giving rise to new projects that reinvent our times and even lead us to rethink our profession.

What are your short- and medium-term goals? What decisions have been taken to tackle the crisis (cost reduction, expansion)?
We have gone for two very clear things. One is all-out internationalisation. Promoting our offices abroad, which is why we have opened branches in China, Dubai and Mexico. Our whole volume of work in architecture is in these countries. Internationalisation is a very good option for Spanish companies from our sector. There is enough talent in Spain, but the situation of wellbeing has led professionals to rule out opening new markets abroad. Secondly, diversification. Opening up new fronts in design with galacticsuiteDesign to offer conceptualisation and design services for the space industry, and in consultancy with Respostes to realise what you do best, draw quality from it and generate a product.

At this moment in time many clients will be asking questions. You have a section called “Respostes” (Answers). In general, what advice would you offer those who are concerned?
“EQUIP RESPOSTES” (Answers in Catalan) was conceived as an in-house tool, in the LAB, to realise what you do best, draw quality from it and generate a product. EQUIP RESPOSTES analyses the company, and together with it finds the question that has to be answered to find a solution. EQUIP RESPOSTES does not give answers, it encourages the actual company to generate them through in-house work with its own teams. EQUIP RESPOSTES gets the team members of the actual company to think about their dynamics, adding a critical distance that opens the eyes of the stakeholders and guides them towards a fresher and revamped vision. My advice boils down to two very simple things. One is to think about what we do best and make this question and its answer the driving force behind our company. And secondly, believe in yourself enough to nurture your self-esteem so that it will give you that energy, call it pride if you want, that will drive you on towards your goals.

Luxury providers


We at EQUIP Xavier Claramunt are a Multidisciplinary Architectural Practice which offers three main product lines: Architecture and Interior Design, Industrial Design and Jewellery. We have just recently added a new category to these areas: Responses, a new way of identifying the core characteristic of any company and power it.
The practice was founded in Barcelona under the name of ADD+ in 1990. Since 2001 it has been based in Fundació Palo Alto, the architecture, image and design company complex in Barcelona. Since 2006 we have operated under the name EQUIP.

Our products are based on three fundamental premises: The first premise is permanent reinvention in our approach to understanding concepts. We always make an unreserved re-evaluation of everything from the developed product through to our attitude towards work and process management.
The second premise is our desire to be closer to people. We propose products that will inspire cooperation between people and will be of use to them.
The third premise is to always follow a proposal approach. We redefine concepts using key words that explain new products to us. We redefine approaches to respond to situations as they arise.

We work by freeing ourselves of any pre-existing formal conventions, undertaking a constant re-evaluation of the way in which our teams and clients understand their surroundings. Each design proposal has its origins in an idea arising from the program. It is never a preconception or a preformed notion. Establishing a work process defines the end identity.

To promote both innovative and exclusive concepts the company is committed with a double strategy based on the work developed by the Agency and the LAB.

LAB is responsible for the research and revision of any area related with people’s life and the places for living. The main goal is to provide unique and innovative concepts to give successful answers to any future question place by clients. LAB is always a step ahead and ready to deal with any necessity of our clients.

The Agency is responsible of producing any item or concept needed to fulfil our client’s expectations. The work developed by the Agency starts from the unique concepts provided by the LAB.  The double strategy of LAB and Agency is able to constantly improve the answers given to our clients.

The LAB has the time to think, the Agency has the ability of adapting the innovative and unique concepts provided by the LAB to the given reality of our clients, without losing any of the core characteristics of these concepts.

The flagship result of this strategy is the first space hotel, Galactic Suite. The LAB succeeded in thinking about the first tourism facility to be place in space, presenting it as a whole and unique life experience.
The Agency is in charge of managing the implementation of the project, transforming the innovative idea of the most exclusive tourism experience of history: training on an island in a resort both touristic and technological, and the space travel that will bring the space tourist to the most exclusive hotel nowadays: Galactic Suite.

EQUIP Xavier Claramunt is the most suitable company to provide the most innovative and exclusive concept related to where people live and specially, where the people want to live.

Innovation means challenging preconceived ideas and assumptions


A company can aspire to excellence by taking the tried and tested route of tradition, but an alternative is to undertake projects which combine both excellence and innovation. Following a predefined route is no guarantee of success, so why not explore new paths? Xavier Claramunt was one of the keynote speakers at the opening ceremony of the Year of Creativity and Innovation in the Basque Country.

Companies which have decided to take the innovation option need to rid themselves of all preconceived ideas concerning what they should offer clients; finding the right response for every project, each with its own particularities, means avoiding assumptions and studying basic concepts again, no matter how familiar they may seem.
Creative thinking strategies depend on having no qualms about checking once again the ingredients of the soup or how the wheel works. In doing so, it is highly unlikely that the exact same soup will be invented, or that the wheel will be discovered. It is fundamental to start work with no assumptions, to begin a project without knowing the solution. Getting rid of preconceived ideas makes it much easier to attend to clients’ real needs, before these are even conscious needs, and to be attuned to innovations, which may be of a technical, organisational or product nature, or even in other, parallel areas.
It is necessary to have a system, a working strategy which acts as a guide at those moments when we feel lost; however, being in a position to really innovate means getting away from routine, avoiding the known answer, shaking off labels.
The most striking feature of the innovation we bring to projects is the total response we offer clients. These are generally surprised to discover that the response we offer is much broader in scope than what they had expected; we consider that comprehensive innovation means applying strategies used in other professional areas such as economics, gastronomy, and jewellery design, to give just a few examples. This is what makes us stand out: an open mind and a refusal to follow recipes and accept limitations.

Learning from accumulated wisdom
However, tradition is also fundamental for any company, no matter how innovative it may be. All that has been done, thought, enjoyed and suffered previously is a treasure chest which should be taken advantage of. At the start of any project, previous contributions should be studied and the classics analysed, from an excellent design to the basic definition of what a chair is, or the significance of an everyday gesture such as a handshake. Similarly, it is also useful to have in place a strategy for reincorporating senior professionals, those specialists or technicians who have been removed, for such an illogical reason as age, from positions which are still rightly theirs. Their knowledge and experience is priceless. This is how excellent teams are built.
In innovation terms, growing means being aware of the fact that the learning process never ends. If our aim is innovation, we have to be open to everything we still do not know, and which will have to be assimilated. The tradition that precedes us is a key factor in interpreting new developments as they arise; it should help us to identify and understand them, but not to label or restrict them in any way. Furthermore, although we may well be aware that knowledge takes up space – a lot! – it is worth defending the dynamic of the constant sum. The bottom line is that those who are unwilling to learn will never innovate.

Imagination, vision and action
The innovation process begins with imaginative thinking, but using one’s imagination is often risky. Being imaginative means not being afraid to offer unconventional solutions.
It is also true that, in order to innovate, one must have vision, and be able to intuit and see what nobody else can see – maybe because they are not looking in the right direction, or perhaps because they are simply not using their eyes in the right way. Sometimes, what we perceive is simply a dizzying optical illusion, but the effect it produces means that, once our vision clears, nothing will be the same again. When one looks in an unaccustomed direction, it is quite natural for the eyes to have to refocus. Until they do, what we see appears as a blur.
Finally, once an interesting idea has been conceived, innovation means implementing it, putting it into production: we are people of action.
Likewise, we should not be afraid to introduce an element of uncertainty, which must be counterbalanced by the highest possible degree of precision. We have to free ourselves of the complexes which prevent us from listening to certain voices or from using an outrageous idea. What matters is the generation of suggestive starting points which give us the strength to progress, in any direction. From that point onwards, individual motivation and the need for ideas to be realized will result in the innovation. We do not always achieve the same level of success in all our projects, but studying failures is also a useful part of the learning process.

Ready to build


In the world of fashion, the tailor gave way to prêt-à-porter some time ago. As regards cooking and food, we stopped harvesting our own vegetables even further in the past and progressed to shopping in the market, where the vendors cry out may I help you darling?. To top it all, shortly afterwards, cartoon characters arrived on the scene, who popped hoy poy capsules into their mouths to quench their thirst without needing to pause for breath.
The same approach could be applied to the field of architecture, of course. Let’s see if it will work. We are currently launching such a system to see what happens, to see how people react, to see how things pan out.
The Tower Catalogue is a set of ready-to-build buildings. Let us explain. A range of towers has been created from on-going research into high-rise buildings in our LAB workshop. These have a basic pre-design which can be developed further in accordance with a building’s specific location or requirements.
Layouts for the towers in the catalogue have already been completed to an initial stage involving formal definition and a structural survey. This enables construction to be started more quickly than if a project had to be started completely from scratch. As initial work has already been carried out, the only aspects still in need of definition are those related to the final use of the building and the structural requirements arising from its specific location with regard to climate, style and urban planning.
Flamenco Towers are the first buildings to be built based on our LAB workshop research. Their origins are to be found in a study which sought to investigate the types of relationship which could be established between different towers built together in group. The final shape and the way the buildings are accessed were finalised at the very moment a client appeared who required a building which matched the potential offered by designs featured in our study. The way we first personalised the project, the first thing we did after initial discussions with the client, was to christen them the FLAMENCO TOWERS …. From then on, work started on the project to satisfy requirements with regard to its functional purpose, the urban surroundings, the climate …. in short, it began to develop and grow.

Uninhibited architecture


Reinventing, approaching people and making constant proposals. That’s how clear things are for the team of architects and industrial designers led by Xavier Claramunt. For them the development process is just as important as the end product. In a desire to offer constant innovation they have just launched a new approach to projects – “Responses”. This initiative joins the disciplines of architecture, interior design, industrial design and jewellery, areas where they have been active since 1990. Besides opening their own office in China in 2005, L’EQUIP Xavier Claramunt also works together with Ferran Adrià, Hospes Hoteles, BMW, Chic&Basic and Cosmic.

Set up in 1990, the company is headed by Xavier Claramunt (Igualada, Catalonia 1965) and operates in the field of architecture, interior design, industrial design and jewellery. It has recently decided to add a further category to these four ares – “Responses”. This is something they refer to as “scale-less” projects. “They are responses to questions which beset our clients when they are attempting to cope with new challenges. Our objective is to put forward an approach which is feasible”.. The initiative was born out of their propensity to come up with new ideas and a project they call “LAB”, as in laboratory. In “LAB” work is carried out on a product or project before a specific client even appears. “Such an approach enables us to improve on responses we have already given to clients’ questions or to prepare ourselves for those which have not yet been asked”. If we compare it to football, it’s like a permanent pre-season warm up which exists in parallel to their daily work”.

LAB has already produced its first creations – a proposed project for a hotel in space – Galactic Suite – and the initial study for a hotel in an underwater habitat – Sea Suite. “These are projects which we develop without having a specific client who has requested it from us. They are proposals we look into when we discover a need which has not yet been covered”. The new LAB strategy has become the way in which L’EQUIP provides opportunities to try out new strategies and to open up new approaches. It exists alongside the responsibilities and urgencies of daily work, because as Xavier Claramunt says, “We are also a company which supplies products with a clear objective – with a client and project in mind. Raw materials must be practicable, deadlines must be met. In the world of so-called reality there’s a reasonable established tendency to steer clear of risk”.

Amongst its many projects those which particularly stand out are the BMW showroom in Sabadell (finalist in the FAD awards), the hotel Chic&Basic Born in Barcelona, the Casa Mur in Igualada or the annexes for the Hotel Hospes Palacio de los Patos in Granada and Hospes Maricel on Mallorca. In industrial design they are working on the FACES collection for top chef Ferran Adrià, for whom they have just presented Frankie silverware. They have also developed bathroom fittings, sets of taps and bathroom accessories. Since 1990, when they began working for DuchClaramunt, they have been designing jewellery whose potential lies in the search for “the user’s implication in the formalisation of the jewellery. More than pieces of jewellery, they are tools for generating pieces”, according to this innovative architect.

Their approach to work
All projects carried out by L’EQUIP Xavier Claramunt are based on three premises which trigger them into action – reinvention, approaching people and constant proposals, all of them free from inhibition. As they explain, “The first premise is constant reinvention in the way of understanding things. We review everything unreservedly, from the developed product to attitudes to work and process management. The second is the desire to approach people with products which inspire them into action and are useful to them. The third is a proposal strategy for redefining concepts and strategies which offer us explanations and enable us to produce new products”. These premises are strictly adhered to in LAB. When a client appears, the process is enhanced without neglecting preceding ideas or the prejudice-free approach to work. “We start on all approaches together with the client, analysing the information provided to learn enough about needs and thus generate proposals which fit in with requirements.” According to Xavier Claramunt, “establishing an approach to work defines the final shape”.
Being able to work on different scales means they are completely flexible. Architecture and interior design enables them to understand the concept of space. Industrial design provides them with contact to industry and thus ensures project viability and development of innovative techniques. Jewellery helps them to learn about materials so they can handle them properly and use them in an appropriate way. These three approaches have been joined by “Responses”, which are referred to as scale-less projects.

For just over a year now the company has had a permanent technical office in China. They are open when talking about the difficulties such a new challenge presents, As they say, “What we have learnt is that in China everything moves at a very slow pace and it’s essential to lay the groundwork well in advance. It’s a difficult road due to the country’s bureaucracy, but once partners are found for projects everything is much easier”. They went as they are convinced that “for something to happen you have to actually be there”. At the present moment they have reached the planning stage for shopping malls and hotel complexes. In line with their concept of re-reading situations and making proposals, they are looking at projects ranging from the manufacture of a pre-fabricated facade in China which would then be put up in Barcelona to prefabricated modules for the hotels they are building throughout Spain.

When faced with the question of how they understand the concept of innovation, L’EQUIP Xavier Claramunt explains that for them “innovation is the area where an idea and the way to approach such an idea can be found. Thus, on one level, our idea of innovation resides in proposing products or spaces which are an invitation to do something, which urge people to interact with both the product and other people. The end objective is activity”. But as they are convinced that for an idea to be innovative it must be put into practice, they add “Our strategy – which to a certain extent is an innovation – is to become involved in projects as partners. In this respect, besides existing as architects or consultants, we also want to be present at all stages and have a say and able to vote on all the decisions”. For the architect this is the only way a project is enhanced instead of diminishing in value along the way from its conception to its actual realisation. “If we are getting a little sensitive, it’s no longer a case of being our children, rather we’re talking about it being a part of ourselves”.

Ideas for empowerment
– Always act while leaving inhibitions aside.
– Constant reinvention in the approach to understanding things – review everything unreservedly, from the developed product to attitudes to work and process management.
– Approach people – propose products which inspire them into action and are useful.
– Offer proposals – redefine concepts so they explain new products to us. Redefine strategies to adapt them to new situations as they appear.

Factors, paradoxes and the big news


Hello, good afternoon. Good afternoon and not good morning as it’s probably very true that getting up early is as good for economic productivity as it is bad for human self-esteem. Anyway, after such modest pontificating, a faint attempt to draw closer to self-assurance of the Madrid character from the edges of the Iberian peninsular, we’re going to try to convince them that the factors which define us are unique and surprising to such an extent they generate paradoxes. We claim they are actually not paradoxes, or if they are accepted as such, then they are false. 

The Time Factor: The Three Scales and Paradox Number One
The Time Factor is related to the desire for the design-production process to be continual. To this end our strategy is to work on Three Scales at the same time, namely, architecture, industrial design and jewellery. Such a dynamic seeks to be clear and not mystical, although the unit is divided into a trinity in such a way that when events slow down in one of the three, we may continue to move forward in one of the others, thus keeping things going. We benefit from their different completion times as the processes are put to the test in different contexts and dimensions, that is to say different scales. Time appears to be one of them, a series of minutes, seconds or whatever unit, but architecture, industrial design and ornamentation consume these in their own way. Our objective is to make good use of such a divergence as if it were a factory with different work shifts.
Paradox Number One is directly related to the Time Factor and its use of the Three Scales: A small team and a whole range of disciplines? A paradox which proves to be a false one when thinking more of intensive work rather than one covering many areas. A clear strategy enables us to look at a chair, the sun which lights it up and the flea which may be able to jump over it one day – with the same two eyes and belonging to just one person. The effortless nature of the process not only makes this melee possible, but also the fact of working in three different disciplines at the same time is a way of reinforcing the process itself.

The Space Factor: The Place, its moment and Paradox Number Two
The Space Factor is related to the benevolence of being here, but also in other places. It is our will to be close to production centres, the places where reality makes the full circle and discovers once more those ideas which we have re-developed and re-understood on re-reading the very same reality. Being in a place is important in order to learn about implementation processes and the skills of those asked to carry them out. The human factor is fundamental. Such immediacy is valid for both industrial processes as well as architectural and urban planning ones. Once the right decision has been made after much persistence and resolve and we manage to be in the right place, where things happen and where things are accomplished, our responsibility focuses on making the moment be the right one. We may not know how to build a piano, but it is no less true that we are sure to have learnt something – if not the art of playing, then the ability to press the keys.
Paradox Number Two is directly linked to the Time Factor – A small office with big business strategies? A false paradox as the big business strategy is copied, but with something else in mind. The basic motivation is not economic in nature, rather it’s a case of ambitions and professional rigour – se è non vero, è ben trovato. That is to say, the challenge, commitment and also the ambition consist in being where architecture is, in its most operatic of forms that is sometimes urban planning. This is being applied to urgent requests. Rigour is the commitment to production and to keeping design and production unified, defending integrated work between designers and producers.

In short, the big news – we are going to Mandarin China, officially Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo -when abbreviated, Zhong Guo. To this end, we are adopting the Columbus 1492 strategy – you seek to go to one particular place, but you end up somewhere else. Although you may be annoyed on first arriving, things turn out to be even better. To do so we have had to do without the dogmatism typical of a virtual age such as ours – namely, excellence in communications networks are no substitute for actual physical presence. We believe direct communication to be fundamental for being able to talk and think with the people who will have to actually manufacture the products.
China is such a large country, state, association or tumult. The place where many others have already managed to demonstrate what can be expected of it. It will depend on us whether our arrival coincides with just the right moment. Pretension, in just the right measure.

We like doing things for people


We are making a display stand for Damm Beers, a bottle display stand which will be on view in all bars. It’s a small object, but it will be everywhere and will become part of many people’s lives. Something like this is important and carries great responsibility. We are also digging up a plot of land in Palma de Mallorca, so we can build a hotel. As we watch the hole appear, we are somewhat taken aback – the feeling is somewhat greater than mere respect. It’s a fear of not being able to match the promise of our technical skills, an ability recognised by institutions and substantiated by projects we have completed. You come face-to-face with something you are involved in and you are in awe. You discover your fragility, that deep down you are small, but due to some strange momentum you see yourself destined for an excessive act, at the limits of arrogance. Time and people will put things into perspective. We have also completed a hotel in Granada and another in Barcelona. They are both very different. One of them is an annex to an historic building, the Palacio de los Patos. The other is a change of use for two floors in a building opposite the Ciutadella Park in Barcelona. We are about to start on another in Jerez. We are in talks with the council to persuade them that, yes, it may be different, but it’ll be worth the effort. It’s something which needs to be tried out and over time it may even come to be considered something which was bound to have happened. We are also cooperating with the people at Layetana with a view to constructing a large building, a high building. Anyway, the main thing is we’re involved in projects. We’re also at work in the Ebro Delta where private property developers have started large housing projects. It is a delicate area, fragile, but the changes taking place cannot be stopped. We are there, but it doesn’t look easy. The mere fact of being there implies taking a risk. The secret lies in doing things with care. However, there is a momentum which is greater than all of us. It is bound to be beneficial, so we have to become part of it.
Faced with such momentum, we can but try to participate – which in itself is something – be participants and contribute with one of our designs, but while handling things with good care. We have decided on a strategy of First Do, Then Think. Counterproductive? We think not. In case of doubt, act. Join the momentum to bring about situations which are unfamiliar, unexpected, surprising and thus unnerving with the aim to achieving greater solutions. It’s an exaggerated, unsettling methodology, but it’s a way of opening up new approaches. A certain kind of innocence which is still capable of honing our technical skills and taking us to places from where we never emerge in the way we thought we would. Once the situation has been brought about, analysis takes place, leading to a solution which emerges while putting things into practice. This is unlike drawing up a design, trying to implement it and later on finding yourself up against a problem. In contrast, a solution will open up the way.
This is why advantage must be taken of dynamic situations we come across as we go along. Things which come up are taken on board and we continue to move forward at a considerable pace.This means collaborators as well as clients are forever changing. Because the only thing which doesn’t change is the act of doing things for people. Everyone who is around us, including the property developers, may come and go. They are dispensable, although nobody likes to think they are. The only thing which doesn’t change is the need to provide a service, cover a need which very often hasn’t been identified, but can be sensed on the horizon. This is why it’s essential to lay the groundwork well in advance – only Spiderman is capable of boarding a moving train.
Besides all these projects we have also set up a technical office in China. Going to China constituted a great risk. What we have learnt is that in China everything moves at a very slow pace and it’s essential to lay the groundwork well in advance. We have been there a year. There have been plenty of meetings and proposed projects, but we still haven’t even got as far as fitting a single door handle. We have needed all this time to establish contacts with property developers, politicians and specialists in the country and gain their trust while getting them interested in our projects. We have now reached the stage where we are still putting forward new projects, but the first ones have already found a way of going ahead. The process is difficult when faced with the bureaucracy and the peculiar way the Chinese have of implementing things decided on in a meeting. But it has also been very difficult to find an approach, a method once a project has found direction and has been set in motion. It needs to be monitored with greater patience and action taken just at the right moment in the knowledge it is moving forward very slowly, but it is actually moving forward. There’s still enough uncertainty, though, for any step you may take forwards to be moved back just as easily. However, the contacts we have established mean it’s a risk, but it’s not plain suicidal. This is the right moment for us in China. For something to happen you have to actually be there. We went there because we believed we should be there.  After entering into a partnership with a Chinese team and sending a member of our own team, we were forced to sit back and think about the next stage. Once there we had to spring into action, so while architecture was making its torturous advances, we sought to make contacts in the construction sector. A potential project emerged involving the manufacture of a pre-fabricated facade in China which would then be put up in Barcelona. We also looked at prefabricated modules for the hotels we are building, or prefabricated kitchens for housing in the Delta. This is how things stand at present.

But we are still considering new challenges.
A few weeks ago, NASA spokespeople talked to the University of Florida about the agency’s objectives over the next forty years of space exploration. One of the topics they dealt with was the fact that, as the US administration had made massive cutbacks in NASA funding, the agency was planning on looking for funding from private companies or investment groups interested in space tourism. Maybe the time has arrived for people to start believing in investing in space. This means not just receiving instructions from GPS system satellites, rather they should perhaps be given the chance to go into space themselves. Obviously, we are not the only ones it has occurred to.
Since April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin manned the first voyage into space, the number of such voyages has only been four a year, most them carried out by the US or Russia.
In 2004, 3 out of 5 scheduled voyages were carried out by Mojave Aerospace Ventures in ships built by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites (Rutan is a legendary force in aeronautic design) and financed exclusively by the space entrepreneur Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. On September 27, 2004 Richard Branson’s Virgin Group (Branson is the founder of airline companies or companies owning a single drinks brand) signed a contract with Paul G. Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures to use its technology to develop the world’s first space tourism company. There is always somebody bigger than you are. They are thinking of going there and coming straight back – but shouldn’t we stay there for a few days?
We need to find a few contacts and see how we can enter into a partnership. And in the end, as always, we’ll do things for people. We like doing things for people. We are also people, but there is much more to it than that.

We appear on BTV


How do you define yourself?
Well, I’d prefer to be something else, but I think what I am is an entrepreneur.

What is your philosophy?
Our aim is to make things which will be useful for people, which are useful in a way so that people interact, talk, chat, do things together.
One way of expressing our philosophy is to sum it up under three principles, which we always try to observe. The first is to reinvent continually, which is like asking an acquaintance “who are you?” every time you meet them. Secondly, always approach people so that they understand what we are doing and they will find a use for it. The third is to have a positive attitude, not only ask “who are you?”, not only be closer to people, but also do it all the time, give answers. Make a contribution, so to say.

What is your approach to work?
We have a two-fold approach to work. First, giving an answer to concrete requests from clients – they ask for a service and you give it to them. That’s what is expected of you, but we also adopt another strategy, to which we give the none-too-original name of LAB. This second approach refers to the place where we carry out research and try out solutions which sooner or later – or even never, why not say so – will be applied in part or intuitively to the projects which have a specific client and objective in mind.

What kind of professionals form part of LEQUIP+CLARAMUNT?
Basically, young professionals. With just the right experience so they don’t make foolish mistakes, but they are also fresh enough to make a real effort and accept challenges, from which they can emerge in one of two ways – either devastated or enriched.

What is the LAB?
A purpose. A work method.
As people often say, I’m glad we’ve asked that question. I’m very glad.
The LAB consists in working on a particular approach or on a particular product before an actual client appears. Normally we have somebody in mind, we know who it could be, that is to say, really we do have a client, but they don’t know it yet. This gives us the freedom to do research. It’s like taking part in a pre-season match before starting to play for actual league points. These are not theoretical projects. They follow a specific programme with set objectives and specified hypothetical clients. They produce a number of products or solutions which go on to form part of a catalogue. Thus when a client appears, or if we bend a client’s ear to such an extent they feel it’s made especially for them, we can show them products or solutions we have actually already tested.

Importance of team work.
I only need to tell you that our name is EQUIP, which is team in Catalan. It’s a concept which means you can take on new co-workers all the time. For instance, EQUIP BTV. We decide to do a documentary about projects throughout history which were considered to be foolhardy and ended up becoming an everyday reality. There are also other foolish ideas which became spectacular follies. Maybe these are more interesting for putting on television. Who knows.

Isn’t it slightly risky designing a Galactic Hotel?
Risky, well, what you could say is that it’s a venturous idea. Let’s say it’s the type of project which you can only expect to be financed by people who come from more dynamic economic and industrial backgrounds. But things don’t always have to stay the same, you should let nothing hold you back. You can think about doing things anywhere and afterwards you just have to search around for a way to make them a reality, to find suitable collaborators.

Does the future lie in being multidisciplinary?
The relationship between architecture, jewellery and industrial design?
The future lies in working without prejudice. This will lead to you becoming interested in other fields, which then end up becoming an essential part of your work. If you are open in the way you think, you sometimes end up working together with people you wouldn’t expect to. The relationship between architecture, jewellery – which we love to call ornamentation – and industrial design can be such that right now you could also add aeronautics or space technology to the mix.

Does functionality have to make way for design?
A clothes peg is a design and it is also functional. The contradiction between function and design doesn’t actually exist. Everything we use has to go through a design process. It has to be thought about, adapted and so on. Design is neutral. Something which is true, though, is that bad designs also exist.

What do you need to do to get to do what you want?
To put things very briefly, in my experience to get to do what you want you have to be as stubborn as a mule. We can also talk about believing in what you do, persevering and continually improving, searching for and finding suitable collaborators, taking difficult decisions, risky ones, trying to avoid those which are just plain suicidal … But I think it is best summed up by the idea of being as stubborn as a mule.

In what respect do you think you have been innovative in your work?
Breaking down barriers in the sense of making proposals outside the boundaries of traditional fields. Especially with regard to flexibility in giving answers, responding to any question any client may ask, looking for all the collaborators we need to provide such a response. And if that should be a priest, then so be it. No prejudices.

Requisites for being innovative.
Managing to contribute something original and above all – something which is forgotten a lot of the time – insisting and constructing enough context for such an original idea to become a reality. Let’s say, managing to get your idea into production.

What do you have to do to be constantly innovative?
Let’s see, maybe it’s not a question of being constantly innovative, only when it’s necessary. Well, maybe we need to be innovative a lot….

What would you like to do which haven’t yet done?
Have a child with all the women I’ve fallen in love with.

Do you have to take risks to do what you want to?
Yes, but not in the sense of climbing a sheer wall without any ropes. More often than not it’s a mental risk in setting yourself challenges, which can be achieved little by little.

Does Barcelona provide you with work?
Yes, certainly, of course it does, no doubt about it.

What does your ideal house need to have?
Yes, of course.

Your desire?
Your paradise? A place where you could lose yourself?
I’d lose myself with her in a city like Bandar Seri Begawan where I wouldn’t be carrying a map, nor a guide, nor money …you know what I mean.

Latest projects. What are you doing at the moment?
Housing in Montsià, Catalonia; hotels in Mallorca, Barcelona, Lisbon, Beijing. All sounds very grand, but it’s nothing special really. Just plastering ….

And the Galactic Suites.



A practice is always determined by a series of repetitions and differentiations. Excessive repetition leads to sclerosis and inflexibility, and fails to exploit opportunities in new environments and expand the genetic potentials. If there is too much differentiation, the internal consistency of the work dissolves in the exterior conditions, becomes enslaved to the specific situation, purely local. There needs to be a balance between repetition and differentiation, even in the name of operativity of a practice. Operativity is not only determined by the capacity to adapt, to ply to changing conditions but also by its mastery of certain processes. And that mastery is improved through repetition. Techniques, protocols, handshakes are improved through the development of a practice, as certain modes prove to be successful. We have tried therefore to identify repetitions in the work of the office, and that is why it takes the form of a classification. It is in those repetitions where we try to identify the consistency of the practice, to construct a kind of fingerprint, an DNA of the practice. We want to see the outcome of these years not just as a series of experiments, defined by the specific conditions, but as a consistent reservoir of architectural species to be proliferated, mutated and evolved in the years to come.