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.

Exposé on the day of the agitator: How flexible are you?


Entrepreneur? Agitator!
Making changes is difficult. Even though it’s for the better, any change is irritating. That’s why those of us who tend to propose changes – God knows why – initially cause irritation. Nobody likes being irritated. So, what we really need is to be flexible, so we can introduce change without making too many waves. If you are not flexible, a proposed change will falter and fail and another opportunity will be missed.

THINK AND ACT. An entrepreneur is someone who thinks and acts. Regardless of their company’s size, entrepreneurs always have the right attitude, even when they make their bed.
Entrepreneurs? There is an etymology for the word entrepreneur which may be true or not, but it is certainly evocative. The original French word entrepreneur is said to have appeared at the beginning of the 16th century in reference to the adventurers who travelled to the New World in search of opportunities without really knowing what they were getting into. In the early 18th century, the French extended the meaning to include those who built bridges and roads and, wait for it, architects! Its meaning in a business context was first defined by Richard Cantillon in 1755, in reference to those facing a process with a degree of uncertainty.

ENERGY. An entrepreneur is someone who has energy which is being used up as they go along but has strategies to recover such energy throughout any process.
We recommend plenty of practice using a certain ring-shaped toy made of wood or plastic, which induces little more than physical activity but may also serve as metaphor – the hula hoop. An agitator must be able to make a hula hoop dance. And what is that supposed to mean? It means they must be flexible. And what does being flexible mean? Well, a lot of things and everyone must find a way to be flexible. It’s not a question of opposing superior powers, but of using them, like the new generation of sailing boats whose rigging transmits opposing forces as they move instead of putting up resistance to them. It’s like having a weather vane which is constantly turning, but we have to know how to stay on course while making use of all the energy produced by the rotating vane. Did anyone understand the metaphor? Do the hula hoop.
Arc del Teatre/…

ATTITUDE. Attitude is a key word. Attitude is being prepared to do things with enthusiasm while completely rejecting the ridiculous. We should act much more like Americans and less like Europeans, with a touch of innocence, to be sure, something which is always associated with the capacity which enthusiasm has of seeing things where they are not. Give me an attitude and I will move the world.
Agitator! You should realise your work is associated with the act of agitation. You are an agitator who makes others lift their sedentary asses from the chair they are keeping warm.

CONVINCE. The capacity to convince, which is probably related to the capacity to make a negotiator participate in what you are proposing. It’s not so much the fact they are attracted by your project rather that you invite them to participate and suggest that they could play an important role.
Projects need to be shared. Nobody can undertake a project on their own, even less so in our field, in this small country of ours full of envious and lazy people. Something good can probably come out of this. Anyone who is in a position to help us must also see potential for themselves in our projects. As we may not know who can offer us help we may need in the future, we have to remain open-minded. An entrepreneur needs to be a great host who is building a large house where they can receive many people.
Chic&Basic Born/ Hospes Palma/ Hotusa Arc de Triomf/…

LAB and AGENCY. Owning a company where 50 % of your business does not make a profit, does not produce anything which risks being sold or generating any kind of economic earnings … at least in direct way.
In our field, architecture and industrial design, there are many people doing things and doing them well. It was very difficult to get ahead. The problem was and is that everyone works within very similar parameters. We needed to find a different approach. This, of course, involved looking in many different directions. We thus created the LAB, which is basically a place where a fair number of people are working in many different directions. A word secretly taken from a restaurant menu, for instance, could become a stimulus and lead to a particular line of work. Such a process may take a few days as it does not suggest anything. Or it may just grow and grow and end up becoming something which may be the beginnings of something else.
Galactic Suite/ Catalogue of high-rise buildings/…

SOMEBODY HAS TO BELIEVE IN YOU. It’s not possible to do anything alone. In our case, belief in you begins with a father, a mother, then continues with the Architect’s Cooperative Credit Institute and now is based in the company itself, 50 % of which does make a profit.
Risk? Change, uncertainty and often risk. These are terms traditionally associated with entrepreneurs, but everything is really much easier. Entrepreneurs aren’t actually the kind of people who like risk. Entrepreneurs are smart people who seek to make use of things they have around them. They reorganize and adjust the things they see in a way which brings a benefit, some value. It’s not necessarily a question of making money. The same thing goes for those who help us, after all there has to be a great deal of faith at the beginning as almost nobody is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Those who are actually born with a silver spoon in their mouth start to use it without knowing what it is really used for. It goes without saying that the only person who can have faith in you is your father or someone similar.
Mother’s bath/ Architect’s Cooperative Credit Institute competition/ Be your own client: ONE,… /…

PROFIT? DEBT! It’s not very clear who profits. Companies move forward, people get paid and there is often debt. Debt is detrimental to profit but it doesn’t seem to be harmful for companies. I would even go as far as saying it was favourable.
Some people say that an entrepreneur is a smartass who sees an opportunity and organises resources to set things in motion or capitalise on it.

If you’re broke, buy houses!/…

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.

Our mujer in Havana


ADD+ meets up in Cuba. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. How a story can be created, invented, dreamt up from a few little details, hints, or rumours. Dirty tricks while flirting, being coquettish. Taking the game seriously, sifting reality through a sieve even more biased towards the host than a Champions League referee may be.
ADD+ invents programmes for itself, invents projects and invents clients. From a few scraps of information which others would throw to the chickens, ADD+ cooks up plots which ridicule the Maginot line of castles in the air and whose next link will sketch the Great Wall across the sky in China.
From a conscientious, meticulous gaze, ADD+ rediscovers something which appears, if not by coincidence, then a little unobtrusively, and very often manages to re-find itself. Travelling through Cuba, ADD+ discovers itself in the way Cuban women concoct some kind of relationship based on a glance cast by squinty, frantic eyes underlined with a touch of lust and lechery which greedily try to embrace a burst of curves.
Feigning disinterest, although it took a great hard work to get you to where you are, you thus find yourself with a project of your life without you under discussion, demanding to be called into existence at every stroke of the pen and through discreet babbling over the phone. ADD+, our woman in Havana. You said we’d get to know each other first. I am an honest woman and let me be quite clear. I am a lady in my own house.
They even expect you to cook.

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.

Ornamenting the question


Lidl is a European discount supermarket chain of German origin, which has already become established in 17 countries. It specialises in foodstuffs, drinks, cleaning articles and other household items, but no pieces of jewellery as yet. They have limited offers – normally for two or three days – on more expensive items such as electrical appliances, computers or tools, but no pieces of jewellery as yet. Lidl also sells own label products, but it hasn’t dared to sell any pieces of jewellery as yet. According to well-informed sources, the supermarket does all this so as to be able to offer the lowest prices possible, its main objective. Independent studies by consumer organisations have not detected pieces of jewellery amongst Lidl ranges, an item which could very well be offered at a much lower price than other brands. Giving people what they want is not a strategy. To a certain extent, it is a mission and not necessarily one with economic productivity as its only objective.

What is a jewel?
It’s an authentic piece which transmits a sense of well-being to the person who is wearing it and, above all, it engages them in communication.

What do you believe will be the jewel of the future?
It will most probably be a piece which contains information technology, something related to the potential of internet which enables people to communicate with one another. The piece of the future is one which engages the user, activates them and urges them to communicate with others. It’s a PIN which opens doors.

How would you define the current situation with regard to jewellery in Catalonia? Why has it come to such a situation?
The second question already gives away the fact that a gloomy answer is expected to the first one. Well, regardless of this to some extent, and very much as a result of it, I’m glad I’ve been asked this question. In the present situation outdated models have become exhausted. Thinking of a piece of jewellery as a unique piece and as something based on precious materials and on originality due to craftsmanship has no future in society.The future lies in communicating, making things social, sharing.
We have come to such a situation due to a certain persistence in insisting on a traditional characteristic of ornamentation – its uniqueness. It’s a restrictive idea, obsolete, something which belongs in a museum.

Do you think the sector is modernising itself?
No. It revolves around outdated criteria and efforts to modernise – which are, in fact, many – are focussed on approaches to management and not on putting forward a much-needed, new idea of jewellery.

Which path must jewellery take into the future?
First of all, calling itself ornamentation rather than jewellery as doing so will open up the field and prevent it from being restricted to an exclusive circle of people. The future of jewellery lies in creating pieces which are more like tools for making contact with other people and not like a beacon which announces the presence of a self-complacent ego. It lies more in pieces which multiply and bring about communication. A piece you buy in one place will also be accessible in another place or for other people, and will incorporate a way to establish contact. It’s here where information technologies should be used. An iPod or a mobile are pieces containing identity and communication. Such trends should be taken up by the world of traditional jewellery-ornamentation. But it’s not a case of embedding a diamond into an MP3 player, rather the piece which serves as an ornamentation for an individual should be a means of communication. It is shared with others, maybe many others.

What is your contribution to the sector?
Up to now ornamentation was a way to display social status. Jewels indicated the class to which the person wearing the piece belonged. DuchClaramunt has been saying for years that ornamentation is more related to the feelings inside a person and that the user’s interaction with the piece should be an unavoidable option.  Ornamentation is a way in which people can feel good. We could say that the thing which is related to people’s well-being today is a mixture between technology and sharing. In short, ornamentation is communication. DuchClaramunt is preparing a piece of ornamentation which will be on sale at newsstands. It is designed to reach the largest number of people in the greatest number of places possible without restricting it to one country. It’s a bracelet which is activated once it has been purchased, thus opening up the possibility of communicating with its twin piece which will have been purchased by somebody else in another place, which may be faraway. The piece offers an identity, but it also signifies belonging to a group and the chance to communicate with other members in the group. The concept of a jewel being something unique should be turned on its head and ornamentation should convert such a concept into a sign of identity which brings people together, leading them to a place where many people feel good and feel good together in a community. The newsstand bracelet is a tool for sociability.

Interactivity and family


Marco Polo was an explorer, so was Ali Bey. They were pioneers who dared to go where very few people had ever been before and then went on to publicise their travels and talk about them. There were many who travelled in the past, but only a few of them actually managed to make a record so that we could learn from them. They wrote about their actual travels, not the mere act of travelling, as there were also many others who used to simply travel, just like we continue to do so today.
When starting to think about the hotels we have to build, we decided to look back not at historic hotel architecture, its large or small buildings, and its architectural styles, but rather look at the individuals who travelled in former times. It was then we realised there was a difference between what we could call a traveller and what we now call a tourist. An aspect which caught our attention most and which we decided to recapture by adapting it to our circumstances and times, is the active character of a person who journeys about the world, the traveller, as opposed the more passive tendency of following established routes and routines as a tourist. Our latest projects thus revolve around returning a type of protagonism to people which goes beyond the tendency to treat them as someone who has to be led by the hand and considers them as discerning individuals capable of enjoying an activity. This is where the concept of interactivity appears, an idea we want to transfer to our hotels. This is not only to provide stimuli which will lead to responses being produced, but, more importantly, also to supply tools such as spaces, possibilities and times so that people can interact both with inanimate objects which surround them and with other people they come across in a place such as a hotel.
To turn from the more ethereal to something more urban, let us start by making notes about the role of light and interactivity. We might accept that if something cannot be seen, then it has no reason to exist. Now you see it, now you don’t. On this basis, light is fundamental, not only to make a certain atmosphere real, but also to establish the type of sensation it has in relation to the colour objects reflect. Once such a situation is established, our aim is to give the traveller the chance not only to experience different lighting ambiences, but also to exercise control over them. It should be added that the starting point is always the person and not the room, so in a double room both guests should have the opportunity to exercise separate control over the ambience. If there are two controls, it is bound to produce some kind of dilemma, which irresistibly leads to some kind of communication. Neither impositions or suggestions are accepted, the basis of communication is an action. In this sense there is a certain preoccupation with sustaining the functioning of the hotel, which is based on making the guest the protagonist. Actions traditionally carried out by hotel staff may be left to the guest. For instance, room service actually becomes a self-service area, or an open buffet as it were, where contact is encouraged between guests from different rooms. We regard this as another level of interactivity. It’s not a question of making customers work, rather it is providing them greater control over their environment and providing them with the opportunity to act.
Giving such freedom to the guest means some ideas we have about spaces inside a hotel are brought into confusion as regards fixed elements and mobile ones. This is what we could call the concept of a single-doored hotel. This means the only true door is the one which divides the street from the hotel interior. From there on, more than finding closed spaces and more doors, you will have the possibility of attaining greater intimacy without losing contact with the whole. This leads us to the fact spaces are multifunctional to a certain extent, a third level of interactivity, meaning corridors accept their role as an anteroom for bedrooms and stairways allow for peaceful conversation.
Last of all, the urban character of the building shouldn’t be lost, the indisputable fact that it lies within the city. Just as people should have the tools to interact, the building should also try to establish some kind of communication with the urban context. Coming inside from the outside street, there will always be hotel cafes, or now the healthy trend to recover the tradition of hotel restaurants. This is a strategy which helps to sustain quality cuisine combined with a clientele of travellers staying alongside other travellers or residents in the city. It is a way to reduce the sense of isolation with respect to guests in a hotel. Going outside the hotel from the inside strategies may appear to communicate not the presence of the hotel, but rather the fact that activities are carried out inside. From less to more and going back to little, just like the different lighting ambiences in the room being changed according to the mood of the guests staying in them are transferred to the areas of circulation in order to participate in their changing light configuration, the same light can be noticed from the street, thus involving the passer-by a little in the traveller’s place.

How to make so-called rough or composite models


First of all, a series of premises are set out as a starting point, which should, theoretically, govern the research.
Regardless of what the governing part seeks to propose, the premises are interpreted by the performer, the servant, in the following way:
We have a mass or a certain something which is wrapped around the essence or core in question. The objective is to reach inside what is under the wrapping, and to find how to bring light to it, how to proliferate the light and diffuse it.  The next step is how to stop this light, how to deliver it.
The same strategy could be applied to light as to smell, sound and humidity.
Images will immediately come to mind long before modelling begins. The first rough attestation is created from the point of view of the governing part, where the performer will set out to search for such objectives independently from the process.  But curiosity is not subject to rational control and they say that’s the way cats get killed. Meow.
Four courses of action are considered.
The mass and its cracks. Poking about, sculpting and having Superman’s power of vision which allows you to see even through kryptonite. Second recrimination due to a whole series of actions without any apparent sense or adjectives, which denote an escapist attitude and lack of commitment.  Material: wax
The columned mouth or the toothless room, which more than a course of action is like a drawing where the mass is regarded as an accumulation of elements which become evident due to the absence of some or many of them from where you expected to find them. Material: card
The colander eclipse finds its origins in the notion that the moon has tubes, holes or something similar running through it, meaning it fails in its attempt to block the Sun’s rays as they make their way to earth, but, in turn, this attempt becomes a triumph with the success of Saturday Night Fever.  Material: alginate
The engine in a Cherokee, or how such an accumulation of contrasting elements make up content and a continent at the same time.  In other words, depending on how far you are involved, you don’t know whether the jumble is being hidden or the jumble is hiding something. The performer has always been surprised by the fact that, despite being an accumulation of elements standing apart from one another, not a single wave of light manages to get through. The engine from a Seat Marbella will not suffice. Material: Internet

1. the mass and its cracks.
The first step consists in going down to a shop run by Orientals at three o’clock on a Thursday afternoon and looking for wax. Two types of candles are chosen – one of them stands out due to its colour and size. The other is completely inconspicuous – acquired just because it is white and to see what happens. The shop assistant says it is very beautiful and very cheap as he points to a clearly useless metal holder at the candle base.
One. The large one is circular, green. In parts it looks translucent, but this cannot be proven. Perhaps it is just our imagination.  It also gives off an aroma.  It has three wicks, meaning three flames came be alight at the same time. The performer looks at it and smells it.  He takes a pair of tweezers and removes two of the wicks carefully, leaving a tunnel which passes all the way through the candle. The third wick won’t come out, so it is lit and the wax melts. If we are patient, it may just leave another hole through the candle.
Conclusion: With regard to light: mass may not be opaque, and if pressure is put on the performer, it could be said that the candle can give off light itself.  With regard to smell: the material itself gives off a smell which hasn’t been added to it, but is rather a constituent part of its characteristics and can be stimulated, that is to say, regulated to a certain extent.  With regard to access: the candle becomes perforated as some of its components, the wicks, are removed.
Two. The small candles. They are released from their cellophane wrapping and the sky blue bow. They are examined carefully and as the performer cannot think of any use for them, they are placed in the waste paper basket. Tweezers are used once more to remove the wicks – successfully in one case, a failure in the other. This time a complete tunnel is not achieved. The performer takes a Stanley knife and tries to cut through one of the candles – surprise – a wall on the outside and one on the inside. One is made of wax, which gives it shape and covers the outside surface. The other is made of a synthetic material which acts as a filler.  We take a tin soldering iron and start to melt the filler in order to reconstruct the skin again afterwards. Filled beforehand, now empty.
The wax which melts solidifies quickly. A receptacle is made where the wax falls. Several perforations are made in the receptacle so it will be more stable on the table, but – or surprisingly – the wax partially leaks through until it blocks up the holes itself, a victim of its own success.
Once the mass is hollowed out, we put it up against the light and can see little. We are going to perforate. We look for an instrument which will enable us to make small perforations and we find a brass rod.  We heat it and focus our efforts a while on piercing one of the candle walls.
We construct a template so as to make the process less haphazard. However, the template is actually designed with the slight intention of creating two highly perforated areas, the rest less so and more random to a certain extent.   We perforate the other side directly with the hot tip of the soldering iron.
Conclusion: Perforations reveal the thickness of things and they also make us think about what is behind and the existence of places on the other side. By knocking gently we may discover that there may be something on the other side – instead of sounding hollow, an aria may burst out.
2. the columned mouth or the toothless room
One. The volume is added to. The aim is for it to be a certain three dimensional shape – above, below, to the right and to the left. Two horizontal planes made of card are set up and are joined together using three pieces of two different widths.  Each plane will have a minimum of two sets of three pieces of different lengths which will join it to the two planes at different distances. Three planes are perforated with circular holes. The groups of vertical pieces define the different areas like a cage, where little pieces of silver foil are placed.  If the paper is blown upon, it moves and makes a noise.
Conclusion: adding elements and holes defines areas, but without confining them. The openings which are made into the space itself help to deceive perception. This is the way to win the game. The planes accompany the light, particularly when they are linked to a perforation. The perforations on different levels may not be facing one another, so light enters in a more indirect way, thus making perception of the space more complicated.
Two. Between the mass, the adding of volume and the preconception of the moon being a colander, several sheets are perforated.  Certain areas are designated to be perforated generously, but without trying to achieve perfect alignment of the holes between the different sheets. Two sheets are covered by smooth silver foil on one side, a third one with crumpled silver foil.  A base is constructed with grooves at different distances – some are parallel, others are not – in order to be able to fit the sheets and see the latticed effect of the misaligned holes.
Conclusion: Making additions adds volume, but multiple perforations add air, so it isn’t a volume which is stifling. The slatted effect doesn’t have to be permanent, it can be modified. The walls can be alive. Light and perception can be changed at will, or randomly, or controlled by a complex system (such as the day).
3. the colander eclipse
The moon is a colander. In 1 we had a mass on which we performed different actions. Now we are going to do the reverse (the performer would say “a slight reverse”, knowing full well that the governing part considers the expression as a sign of insecurity) and the incisions or perforations are going to be planned beforehand.  A user-friendly, quick-setting liquid material – alginate – is used as well as translucent materials which are also edible – sweets, jelly beans. In this way slight expectation is created. Several tests are carried out. A. Different coloured jelly beans are placed in contact with the formwork (a plastic cup). Their position is adjusted with needles. Some jelly beans are placed at different distances from the perimeter. B. « Bridges » are made by stringing jelly beans together side by side, adjusting their position with needles. We ensure the skewered jelly beans are different colours. The performer manages to prick himself several times. C. Several tubes are put in place using needles, which will go through the mass.  D. Different tubes.  Jelly beans are positioned in the inside part, some just touching the tubes, others have the tubes running through them.
It’s possible to see how light comes through the coloured pathway of jelly beans. As you look through some of the tubes, colour can be seen at the end. The jelly beans seem to be dissolving, possibly as a reaction to the alginate.
Conclusion: intuition of “walled” elements gives a feeling of thickness in matter.  Light can be delivered, but at the same time it’s as if we become its baggage which it takes inside.  It’s also possible to think of a formwork which has disappeared instead of a missing formwork. This is somewhat like a technique for a constructor of pyramids, or like using ice as a dead weight in the Sahara Desert.
4. the engine in a Cherokee
We search for electric and combustion engines on the internet. We also open up the hood on a Cherokee Unlimited and a Grand Cherokee. This time we only look. The different elements such as tubes, metal boxes and bars go in and out, they duck into the jumble of metals and plastics only to come out again a few centimetres further along. Or then again, not. Their rounded edges prevent it from being perceived as a solid mass. They all seem to be elements millimetrically apart from one another.
While undertaking research we come up against a brain with all its protuberances, its grey matter, its shadows and its areas of activity.  They are different in each person, different according to the sun which shines upon it. 
Conclusion: Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between content and continent, between what is hidden and what it is hiding. There is team work here.
Roughness gives a vast feeling of heaviness, of seriousness, particularly if curved shapes predominate.
The outcome is:
Composite: composite: made up of disparate or separate parts or elements; compound. A picture, photograph, or the like, that combines several separate pictures. 

Pocket words


The starting points for our projects are not pre-established schemes which predetermine the final shape, rather they consist of ideas, concepts. These generate processes and systems which, once a particular need is covered, go on to find the next solution of their own accord. We thus understand how a tub, a peg, a tactile quality, an empty space, a face-to-face encounter, or bobbin lace can generate any kind of object. All that remains is to study what the object signifies as such, what its qualities are and redefine it. A new conception of the object emerges from this re-reading, thus giving it a new form.

The system is rooted in a constant revision of the way of understanding things, reinterpreting their qualities. The key factor here is that this represents a work tool which allows us to tackle a design on any scale, from a piece of jewellery to an urban planning project. It is thus understood that the same system can be used to find solutions for such apparently diverse designs – the qualities of a theatre curtain and its folds emerge as the Peça-Teló (“Theatre-Curtain-Piece”); the Termo-Pack gives the user the option of delivering a present hot or cold; the Pica-Container reflects the idea of something we can use to hold hygiene products without getting sprayed or dirty; The Arxiu-Mirador (“Windowed Archive”) in Vilafranca de Penedès came about after studying the concept of an archive and then removing it from the idea of a horizontal container so as to transform it into a windowed-vertical-store; the Cases-Mur i Espiral (the Wall and Spiral Houses) respond to topographical factors through their shape, whereas the Casa-Tub (the Tub House) responds to the geographical direction it faces. 

The system could be explained through POCKET-WORDS, ideas which study and re-understand qualities so they can be transposed into projects. In this respect, we can indeed talk of a pocket where a hand searches around, finds something, is surprised and makes a discovery. Starting from a simple idea, a product of a careful study of conditions, the complete design of the product emerges of its own accord, down to the tiniest of details.

Such a formula reflects a great honesty and greater care towards the object and its user. Leaving completely aside any personal influences on the design, the latter is a product, above all, of careful attention to the needs which the consumer demands, needs which are resolved in POCKET-WORDS.

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.