MIGUEL SEGUÍ, INMA GUZMÁN, ESTUDIO EMEALCUBO
From the honesty of years of work in a cabinetmaking workshop to the incorporation of wood as the essence of interior design projects, there is a long and exciting journey that Miguel Seguí, accompanied by Inma Guzmán, has become a recognizable work that materializes in projects of a strong personality and a certain attachment to the earth. In the interview that follows, published in full in the Project Contract magazine of May, Miguel explains to us the complex conceptual framework hidden under the apparent simplicity of his works.
Restaurante La Deriva, Emealcubo project with neat woodwork
How do you complement an interior design and design studio, a carpentry workshop and a furniture store?  Each department feeds on the other two, and together they help each other. From the studio, interior design projects and furniture designs are generated, ideas are produced, plans are developed and presented to the client through infographics. From the workshop, technical support is given, solving constructive problems and studying how to optimize the execution of the designs to make them stronger and more economical. From the store / showroom, integrated into the studio space, some pieces of furniture that we have designed and manage the distribution of the extensive range of products offered by the market are exposed. Thanks to this company structure, the customer can receive a higher level of quality, more controlled manufacturing times and better prices.
What are the advantages of having an integrated carpentry workshop in the studio?
The integration of the workshop in the gear of Emealcubo has been a natural evolution in our company. Wood is the material that defines us, it is an essential part of the expressiveness of our designs. We are very seduced by the organic and tectonic quality of wood. No matter how disruptive a design may be, if it is in wood, it never loses contact with our memory, and consequently it always seems warm and welcoming. And it tends to please a very wide profile of people, including people with more classic tendencies. Indeed, the advantages of incorporating the workshop within Emealcubo are innumerable. The workshop becomes a space for experimentation, where we seek expressivity in meetings, in textures, in dyes and varnishes, and participating in the process of creating ideas. From the workshop prototypes of singular elements are made (such as the scale model 1/3 that we made for the inverted crater of the Office of Rafael Medina) to optimize constructive solutions. The design process becomes a complete idea-formalization-cutting-manufacturing experience. And in the end we all clearly benefited: the designer, the artisan and the client.
Explain briefly the history of the Emealcubo study.
I come from a family related to the world of construction. My great grandfather and my grandfather were builders, and my father, José Seguí, is an architect of great prestige, with which I have always been surrounded by stylographs, rulers, scalers, sketch paper, colored pencils and shoes filled with cement. I've always been hanging around my father's studio: before, during, and after finishing the architecture degree.
The first orders I received on my own were of interior design, and when I did not find pieces of furniture that completely integrated with the spaces I imagined, I ended up designing them myself. For some reason, many people were fascinated by these furniture designs, so I came up with the idea of renting a place and setting up a showroom with a collection of designs of "boutique" furniture. Manufacturing piece by piece according to demand. Made in solid woods. And so, Emealcubo was born in 2006.
The founding partners are my wife, Inma Guzmán, and me. The initiative enjoyed a great reception, and soon the showroom was integrated with the interior design studio and the workshop to face the growing demand for integral projects of interior architecture.
Restaurante Richard de Málaga.
How many people are currently enrolled in the study and with what type of collaborators? from other areas you tend to work?
We currently have a living organizational chart, adaptable to the needs of each moment. For each project, there should always be a creative manager who makes sure to take the design idea to its final consequences, since that is the only way to get the expressiveness of the initial idea reflected in the final result with all the sharpness and possible strength. And in the end everything makes sense.
On the other hand, we believe in specialization. Interior design is a complex world. With a very broad scope of knowledge. Over the years we have tried different formulas of internal organization, with different profiles of professionals. And we have come to the conclusion that projects come out better and more complete if everyone exploits their own field of knowledge and develops mainly within a specific area. In this way, currently, all projects go through a chain of specialists (some internal, others external) who, together with the creative manager, develop each phase of the process.
You offer tailored furniture design for your clients. Is not enough with the offer available to the market?
Almost always, our obsession to achieve total integration in the spaces we design leads us to design each piece of furniture so that everything converges towards a unitary image. In fact, on some occasions, the essence of space is found in the very presence of the unique pieces of furniture we design. Many times it also happens that I simply take less time to draw a piece of furniture that I have in my head than to look for something similar in the market.
That said, the offer on the market is fantastic and I am constantly fascinated by the novelties and new signatures that the representatives bring me to the studio. And in fact, many times we have thrown away the catalog when we have found things that we feel really fit the idea. Although I recognize that our way of working usually involves the design of exclusive pieces made to measure.
What difference does it make to design a space to design an exterior furniture program?
We have clients of all kinds. From those who come looking for a single piece of furniture to those who have a rough space and need a complete interior design project. Obviously, acting on the whole of a space is easier than everything is perfectly integrated.
Either way, we enjoy both equally. Since in all situations the approach to the problem of design is the same. I remember always hearing my father talk about the beauty of design scales. From the design of a fork to the one of a general plan of ordination of a city.
In the faculty they taught me to convert the constraints of the project in the pretexts to make that project. And that valuable teaching has accompanied me all these years and will accompany me throughout my life, since I believe that in that maxim is the essence of the good designer. The idea is simple, and certainly optimistic and proactive: if in a room we find a problem or a peculiarity that goes out of the ordinary, we should not throw our hands to the head or try to hide it, hide it or eliminate it. On the contrary: we take advantage of it to make our project unique. We base all the creative effort on taking advantage of it to generate an idea that is formalized around this peculiarity, and that thanks to it, can be developed. It is the basis for personalized tailor-made designs: to become aware of the peculiarities of the place, of your client and the needs program and to draw from it a concept that solves all the problems with a single stroke and generates a unique and singular image. It is very exciting and almost magical the moment in which all these interests converge in a simple design that gives a new meaning to everything.
Necker Jazz Art Hall in Málaga, by Emealcubo
Do you think you have a defined style in your projects or do you adapt to each commission?
It's a mix of both. The architecture career is a double-edged sword. Since you are bombarded with reflections of all kinds, and each teacher is a world. With what on the one hand is very stimulating, but on the other you can end up disoriented. The subject of projects has little of science, and the same design can enchant a professor and another horrify him. This situation can generate a certain state of insecurity in which a point arrives that you do not know what to do to make a project right. So in the fourth year I started to make a list in my project notebook. The list was titled: "My absolute truths about architecture". I wanted to simplify everything. Start from scratch Reflect a modus operandi to project that no professor or future client could refute me. Well, the first absolute truth that I managed to write was: "Each project has its own truth". And I said to myself: "Well, we started well …"
Indeed, each new assignment has its own truth, and the challenge is basically to sensitize you enough to find it. Once you find it, if you really find it (sometimes you just believe it), the rest is as simple as filling out a form: you just have to be careful not to make mistakes.
Anyway, if I recognize that it has Many people said that I have a very recognizable style. Even people who have recognized my works without knowing that I had done them. Which gratifies me, since design is a projection of our personality. Of absolutely everything we are. And the fact that there is a recognizable line implies that I project everything that I am and have in each design. And that can only be good.
How does the relationship with a new client arise?
Well, the truth is, it's a very intuitive question. Like any designer, our work is not scientific, that is, there is no clear objective to reach. It is not like for example a mechanics workshop, they know they have to repair a vehicle and there are only two ways to do it: good or bad. That works or that does not work.
In our case there are many possible solutions, and among all of them there will be some with which the client will be identified and others will not. And the skill to be right lies mainly in the ability to intuit the customer's wishes in the first meetings.
If that work is not done well. If you do not do enough effort to capture, not only what you say, but what a client does not say, you will probably do the double work, since the first proposal will only serve to finish understanding what was really asked of us. And we will have lost time and money in realizing it. With what at the beginning we always like to talk to the client not only about the project he needs, but also about other things. Your wishes, your philosophy of life, your tastes, etc. Any data, even if it seems irrelevant, helps us to build the mental map with the route to a project idea that can inspire and hope.
Do you prefer to take on integral projects?
I enjoy designing a little table lounge as with a restaurant, since in the end both things follow the same design process, only at different scales. But I recognize that in an integral project there is an element that I love and that is very architectural: the possibility of walking inside the design. Go through it and feel the serenity it breathes. Observe how your client uses it and makes it his own. Visit it to time and see how it has aged, how it has been adapted to its daily use.
Can you mention a space that has moved you?
Well, generally the spaces that most affect me are the ones that I see that have behind them a powerful and singular idea that solves the project and that makes it perfect for that place. That they are integrated as if they had always been there. As if they were a living being and sensitive to what they find. I like the designs that manage to generate life. Activity around them. And I usually attract timeless spaces. Far away from the fashions. There are three examples that I have always loved:
Contemporary one: The accesses of the Louvre Museum, by I.M.Pei. How it is buried to emerge inside the historic building through a topography of stepped stone platforms. Leaving views to the outside only those glazed pyramids so perfect that they serve as skylights of the main hall.
Another classic: The Piazza del Campo in Siena. Whose inclined topography, joined to the pavement of mud bricks, which are heated by the sun throughout the day, generate a kind of "beach without sea" where people tend to sit or lie down. It is a beautiful public space with something special. With a lot of life.
And a personal one: I've always loved my childhood home, designed by my father, with interconnected interior spaces with precious triple heights. It is the most beautiful house I have seen.
EMEALCUBO Miguel Seguí, Architect and director of Emealcubo. Inma Guzmán Juan de Padilla Street, 7. Local. 29008, Málaga. SPAIN T. 952 210 306
Interview: Marcel Benedito. Photography portrait: Elisa Seguí. Photos: Miguel Seguí
Interview published courtesy of Project Contract.