Manuel Such and Ignacio Alegría are Estudio Alegría. With very different profiles and backgrounds, they complement each other perfectly and make the perfect team. 2018 has only just begun and we’ve been able to see their work at the Sala Fundación ARCO project at ARCOMadrid 2018. They have their own space at Casa Décor, which you can visit until 25th March. Today we’re chatting with this interior architecture duo about their work – their true passion.
- What’s something that you would like to tell professionals and fans of interior design that we might not already know about Estudio Alegría?
We want to highlight two things. Firstly, we want to make it known that we put our own stamp on things and secondly, we want to show that we are capable of undertaking really different challenges. We take on contract projects, residential projects, including ephemeral architecture, like that seen at the Sala Fundación ARCO. We want it to be known that we are capable of taking on any challenge and keep proving it, proving it, proving it.
- Do you have any other projects other than the studio? Where would you like to take Alegría in the near future?
The studio takes up the majority of our time, at a personal level also. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between our personal and professional lives. We are so passionate about design that we are constantly working, even though it may not be for a specific project, designing furniture and collections, floor designs, lighting design…We don’t have time for much else. Obviously, we have interests and the main one is to see the world. But we always have the end goal in mind of seeing design, because we are conscious that there is a lot of talent out there, and one can learn from all that talent.
In the future, we don’t want to limit ourselves, we want to keep taking on bigger and bigger challenges, both at contract and residential levels. We believe that each project has its own complexities and its own identity. First, we like to research and do a lot of introspection to see exactly what each challenge consists of, listening really carefully to what is being proposed. Then we try to get as close as possible to what has been suggested and asked of us.
- Architecture, interior design, talking to clients…which facet of your work do you most enjoy?
We really enjoy listening to the client, the person that’s trusting us with their spaces. If there wasn’t a preliminary phase where we are really listening and paying attention to their needs, their ambitions, the hopes of the client, we wouldn’t be able to do what they are asking of us. Apart from that, we also like feeling a sense of pride in our work.
Once we have listened to the challenge that is being proposed, the initial creative phase is really exciting. Each project presents more than one option, because this phase takes us down different paths and we try and find different answers. Then comes the production phase, which we also love, because it’s when that initial phase that we like so much comes to life and we can see everything we have envisaged becoming a reality.
- What inspires you every day? Do you have a certain ritual, do you consult a particular publication that is like a bible for you…?
We do consult specialised publications but, above all, we have our eyes wide open during our daily lives. Fortunately, today’s technology makes it really easy; we also try to capture anything that catches our attention in our day to day life and look for an explanation of the process so we can understand how it was created and carried out. We might seem a little “complicated” when we are in the company of others, because we are always asking to take a moment for a photo of something specific or to discuss what we’ve seen at another architectural studio – there are several that we admire.
- How do you connect with what you’re interested in? Are you more digital or analogue?
Manuel Such: There are 11 years between Ignacio and I and we have two different ways of doing things. When it comes to embodying what we see and what we create, I’m more analogue and Ignacio is more digital.
- How do you disconnect when you need to relax and regain your strength to be able to continue your creative work?
We have a problem with this, because we don’t know how to disconnect. For us, fresh air means being presented with new challenges. Not having anything to think about poses a problem. We need constant movement because it’s the stimulant which helps us keep creating and working, day in, day out, on current and future proposals.
- What defines a good interior architect?
Two things: their understanding of the space and their aesthetic perception. These two elements define the style of each interior architect.
- If you hadn’t become interior architects, what do you think you would be doing?
Manuel: I don’t think it would have been possible for Ignacio to have become anything else, it’s in his DNA, it’s part of his being, and he is an extremely creative person.
Ignacio: Instead of interiors, I have done architecture itself.
Manuel: I let myself be influenced by the people and the things that surround me. If people talk to me about science, history, technology…it really arouses my interest.
- Which interior design professional would you like to connect with?
Designers with really different profiles. A few days ago we were lucky enough to have Rossana Orlandi in our space and she praised us, which we still can’t believe. We’d also like to connect with some highly respected architects, like Norman Foster. Collaborating with either would be a privilege for us.
- Who are your reference points in interior architecture?
Manuel: On a national level we are big fans of Pepe Leal, with whom we are also friends. We really admire his way of working and creating spaces.
Ignacio: We also really like Javier Oristain, who I worked with a few years ago. On an international level we really like Ilse Crawford, Philippe Starck, of course…Dimore Studio is another reference point for us. They all have really different profiles and we like different things about each of them.