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Finishing touches

Updated Friday, 17th September 2010

José Manuel is from Madrid-based interior design company Cuarto. He illustrates how they use green design techniques, and highlights the growing demand for sustainable design in the Middle East This interview was recorded at the ecobuild 2010 event in London, UK

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Interviewer:  Can you tell me something about how you come to be here at Eco Build, a green building exhibition in London, and what it is that led you to be engaged in environment related design?

José:  I think we at first, we were invited by the Chamber of Commerce in Madrid to be here representing the buyer of the building because of the building work which is interior design, which maybe, might be the end of the process of construction.  But we find it very interesting to develop new ideas and making a sense of why interior design has something to do as well with sustainable.  As a, we work with a part of, which is in touch with the people, you know another scale.  Architects work with the bigger scale, engineers work with a bigger scale but we work, you know, to a smaller scale and we are used to work with materials and the things which are closer to ourselves.

Interviewer:  Can you tell me the projects you’re working on at the moment that you’re most excited about in terms of environmental sustainability?

José:  We are now pre-qualified for, to work with Masdar in Abu Dhabi, and we have been, since a couple of years ago we started working in the Middle East.  So we’ve found this growing sense of sustainable presence in construction in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and all those countries.  So, for example, Masdar is a very exciting project that we are now facing.

Interviewer:  Can you talk a bit about, I meant more about Masdar and what you’re finding exciting about it?

José:  Yeah sure.  Masdar in a short, in a few words, Masdar is the first zero energy city of the world, which will improve the quality of life for thousands, hundreds of people will live there, with no, with zero carbon emissions.  That means there are revolutionary way of living and it’s, everything is starting from zero, so it’s a very challenging project.  We will be finished maybe in six, eight years.  Which yes it’s out in the middle of the desert.  So there’s a space for everybody, for architects, engineers, designers, every kind of professional has a place there to work there with them.

Interviewer:  And your role within the project?

José:  Sorry?

Interviewer:  And your role within the project?

José:  We already pre-qualified to work with them.  So we’ll be starting working in the material in the next months because we are the part of the project which goes at the end, so.

Interviewer:  Is that to do with specifying materials or?

José:  What they, what you need first is to explain in the terms of sustainability is that your company is, it can develop the kind of projects and that you work with at, in that terms of sustainability.  It’s a very wide range of needs that you need to have to work with them.

Interviewer:  There are hundreds of interior designers and I should think that Madrid is particularly well supplied, what makes you different?  What, how can you claim to have a particular angle on environmental sustainability?

José:  I think what you need is to have a very wide focus, what you can do not only in Spain or a certain place but all around the world.  And we think that what the world needs now is to have very sustainable ideas to solve the problems of the new projects.  So we’re more focused on what’s happening all around the world than in our own place of birth, that’s it.

Interviewer:  And looking five to ten years out, can you anticipate what the shape of both your own work is going to be but also the industry that you work in?  Do you have instincts about the way things are going?

José:  I think the thing, I think that everything’s going really fast now – maybe not now because of the global crisis.  But I’m sure in a few years sustainable would be something totally common for everybody in every aspect of your private life.  So we are confident that this is going to be something very quickly.

Interviewer:  Now, at this point in time, from the materials you’ve talked about, the examples you’ve got, you’ve claimed to be at the forefront of this thinking in your industry within Spain, but what led you to that? Why did you become engaged in these issues around sustainability?

José:  Sometimes you have to make decisions, and our decision was to go this way.  You could have many other options but our decisions was to go in green in regards as to the bold design, and this is, particularly is our opinion, we think we’re on the right way.  So we hope we are not wrong, so.  There’s not much, there’s not many specialised professionals in sustainable interior design in Spain, so we hope we are in the right way.

Interviewer:  Do you know what the starting point was for thinking that way?  Is there a particular trigger? Was it a book, a teacher, a TV programme, a conversation in the bar?

José:  Well actually a project.  Yeah actually this particular project, alternative energy, interpretation centre to show, to teach children how green energies work. Of course that was a very challenging project, and this project make us change our point of view of all the rest of the projects.  So maybe this was the first, the very first point of all our sustainable career.

Interviewer:  It’s interesting in itself.

José:  Yeah.

Interviewer:  And my last question is about whether you feel yourself to be more optimistic or pessimistic about the wide questions of environmental sustainability, not just your own work or your own profession but whether you think that we’ll achieve sustainability globally across a ten year timescale?  Is that a reasonable proposition?

José:  I hope yes.  I think we are very optimistic about the fact that in ten years things are going to be really different.  I think, if you think ten years ago we were really far away but the real thing is that things are changing and with each day it passed in terms of sustainable, sustainability, ecology and green design, so we are really optimistic about the fact that in ten years we’ll be, we will have in a better world.





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