What’s your background? We studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (ETSAM), Spain.
What do you do? We work in architecture and design.
What jobs have you done other than being an designer/architect/artist? Illustration
What inspires you? We follow with interest architecture and design made by others, we also pay attention to the art world, painting… but the final inspiration really comes from the everyday, in daily life if you go by with an attentive eye.
What is your design philosophy? Very simple, doing things the best way possible, resolving the maximum number of variables, attending to rational as well as sensible aspects in the projects we take on. Also, regarding the attitude approaching the project, we find it essential to have a broad reading of the context, past and future, and of course honesty and a sense of responsibility.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t work without? Our most important tool is drawing, with its different possibilities, from collage to digital mediums. And of course, we wouldn’t be able to work without pencil, paper and books.
What food, drink, song inspires you? We love to eat, but we are mostly inspired during breakfast.
Drinks: coffee and green tea
The songs vary by periods: lately The Ocean by Richard Hawley and This must be the place by Talking Heads
How do you approach a new project? There is always a first phase to study the context, a process where we try to establish a storyline that will be the scheme of the project.
What elements define your style? We always say we don’t want to have a style to be more free. Our style is more in the attitude approaching the projects that in the formal means. It’s also true that when we analyze our work some constants can be found, like the use of color and a certain formal depuration without renouncing to expressivity.
What’s the favorite part of your job? We always love the beginnings and endings.
Do you have experience with “green” or sustainable design?
Yes. In all our projects It’s a factor that we take into consideration. But we also think that it’s an element to include in the process design, it doesn’t only configure the final solution. We think that good architecture and vernacular architecture have known how to introduce adaptation mechanisms to the medium with total naturalness. Above all, we defend passive systems over active ones. In order to save energy, it is more important to orient a house correctly than to install a solar panel.
What criteria will be used to establish priorities and make design decisions? In the things mentioned in the previous answers and from the perspective defined in question 5, although each project is different and establishes its own logic, that requires to highlight the importance of some elements over others.
Can you explain your design process? It is a mix of intuition and craft with the necessary rationalization integrating the different elements. We of course rely on the knowledge of our discipline, but we like to have a different point of view, to avoid the conventional. Regarding the concrete method it’s difficult to precise. After the previous study there is a production process of iterative drawing and a posterior analysis. We like, as Juhani Pallasmaa defines, the expression “the thinking hand”.
What do you think makes a good designer/architect/artist? For sure working intensely and honestly. Regarding the first two, to resolve functional and material aspects but transcending utilitarianism. Regarding the third, where the variable utility (in a physical level) isn’t an objective, the quality. Defining this with precision is a difficult matter. For us artistic quality isn’t purely subjective, on the contrary, we think it can be measured with objective parameters. In the end, architecture, art, design, science, have in common the objective to discover, to reveal.
What role does the designer have in society?
Essential. They define the setting where our lives take place. They are the ones that help configure the medium where we live. The tools we use contribute to create the cultural identity of a society.
How do you decide which projects are a good fit for you/firm? Most important than selecting the projects is selecting the clients.
What qualities do you look for in a client? In a client we look for two qualities: Confidence in the work we carry out and above all for them to appreciate design and architecture.
What role does the artist/ architect/ designer have in society? Essential. They define the setting where our lives take place. They are the ones that help configure the medium where we live. The tools we use contribute to create the cultural identity of a society.
How do you know when a work is finished? It depends on the nature of the project. Some must be perfectly closed when they start being used. Others simply run out. Finally, there is a type of project that doesn’t get to be totally finished that would be the case of housing. We defend what Bruno Munari defined as the minimum decoration necessary. In interior design they are the objects and elements that structure and optimize the possibilities that the architectural space offers. From here on the time and user complete the project incorporating their vital experience to the space.
Considering the many areas that may be affected by sustainable design, how will you determine which options to pursue? Fortunately sustainability is a factor that is going to have to be considered in all the possible areas. We will always have to keep in mind sustainability before doing anything but we think this must start even sooner. Sometimes sustainability is to “not do” or to “redo” before doing “something new”.
What do you find most challenging about designing? Finding a solution that gives an answer to the maximum number or variables possible and that approximates that intangible quality that is beauty.
What is your dream project? All that will come.
What do you dislike about your work? The administration and bureaucracy have to modernize their system to give a more agile response. At the same time there must be a bigger control, that is very necessary because of lack of criteria.
Name three designer/architect/artist you’d like to be compared to. More than comparing we like to admire the work of Ryue Nishizawa, Smiljan Radic, Peter Zumthor, Luis Moreno Mansilla, Valerio Olgiati, Jun’ya Ishigami, the Bouroullec brothers, Miguel Milá, Olafur Eliasson or Peter Zimmermann.
Professionally, what’s your goal? To be happy with what we do and to help build the city.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? To listen to your intuition.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Go on, it is worth it.
Where can people find you and how to reach you? It’s easy to find us in NAOS library in Quintana Street in Madrid.
LUCAS Y HERNÁNDEZ – GIL ARQUITECTOS ·
(+34)91 564 08 37
Urumea 5 28002 Madrid España