Enrique Barrera · Architect, Designer, Interiorista, The Director of Art and teacher in ESNE

“The design is the soul of the things created by the man”.

— Steve Jobs

In this new season of the section it marks with “beacon” that we begin, we enter the world of the television, and that better way of it doing that of Enrique Barrera’s hand (@ebarrera_). This architect and designer of anxious spirit, formed in the ETSAM brings together his educational labor (as teacher in the UCJC and in ESNE, where he has been The Director of the Degree in design of Interiors) with his current study, In Design We Trust, specialized in restoration and television.

“The design it is quite. A business does not exist today for well that it is that he does not need from the design to communicate the excellences of his products or services, to transform into experience the visit of his potential client.

And of the deep conviction of the aptitude to put in value the business and products across the design In-Design-We-Trust is born. A company that offers total solutions of Design, specialized in restoration and design of product.”

Enrique Barrera is the author of the reforms of current programs as “Kitchen Nightmares“, by Alberto Chicote, and recently the most popular and ludicrous restaurant of the television: “First Dates” by Carlos Sobera.

This television decanting has not prevented him from harvesting prizes of national and international character with projects as the promotion of 166 housings VPP in the street Honrrubia 9 (Vallecas’s Widening, Madrid), the Urbanization of San Cayetano’s P.A.R. in Madrid, or the remodeling of Tirso de Molina’s Plaza in Madrid.

They walk, read and enjoy the “television magic”!

Entrevista Enrique Barrera | Fotografía: Seber Ugarte
Enrique Barrera | Photography: Seber Ugarte

How would Enrique Barrera be defined?

I feel unable to do such a thing. I like to think that I am anxious someone, a persecutor in the sense Cortazar´s style, any thing, before that to look at the landscape from the window…

From his formation like architect and now as teacher what does think of the programs and of the educational current system in the schools of Architecture and Design?

It is difficult to answer this… The university is fundamental, but I think that lamentably nowadays the institutions are more worried, in general, of the management, of the statistics and of the number of pupils who attract, that of being the avanzadilla of the company. The university should act as an explorer who works for the company, but his mechanisms are so slow … (generally so much more major all that is this one) When to the end it starts something proves to be already obsolete. Again and again it proves to be unable to give answers to the worries and needs of his own time.

The university that I understand must mark the pace, propose, innovate, advance to disclosed chest, though sometimes it does not succeed, though he is wrong, because his function is not it of giving solutions but her of questions be doing, her of opening doors. As I it understand a university it should be employed at the side of the dizziness and not at that of the safety.

I know the most valuable people, delivered to the reason, wanting to give lessons, to share his experiences … they have so much that to contribute … but the university does not leave site them. Other things are rewarded only … doctors, often with thesis of pompous titles that were put before at least of starting investigating on topics that scarcely interest his author … things like that.

What aspects might they improve and / or complete?

Great, great. But the most important thing, the important only thing, is that what is done is done indeed. That is not a game, or rather, that is not a sham. That there is risk and commitment. This, which can look like a triteness, or an obviedad, turns out to be the most difficult thing.

To do architecture is to play to the little houses. It is not a question of producing planes to him and renders that have “appearance of architecture”. It is not a question of answering forms that will fight to the safety of the warm coffee. It is necessary to play, yes, but since the children play, forgetting to eat, refusing to sleep, the knees being skinned, because all his being is put in the game.

It is a question of risking and to undressing. It treats itself, in Lorca’s words that so much Sáenz de Oíza was mentioning, of

“burning the Parthenon every night to return to raise it every morning”.

And if not, there is no architecture. There is nothing.

Which was the motive or reason that led him to channelling his professional life was doing the “design”?

I never appeared it. Suddenly it was there.

For a long time I detested the word I design. It me was sounding to a superficial postureo, to re-licked, to snobbery. But one day I repaired in his etymology (always the etymology) Designing is to designate, or to put name to the things, to separate them from the rest of the world. And then it seemed to me that “designing” was wonderful.

Anyhow I think that always I have done the same thing, the only thing that happens is that they are changing the names that put on that one that you do. That is to say, you call it of different way according to the area at which one is employed, the trade, but the abstract operations that are realized are conceptual almost the same ones.

“The certain thing is that I do not know how to distinguish between architecture, design, cinema, literature … is not it everything same?”

Experimentación con alumnos de Esne en cúpulas geodésicas | Fotografía: Carlos García
Experimentation with pupils of Esne in geodesic domes | Photography: Carlos García

From the year 2012 it realizes the reforms of the program “Kitchen Nightmares“, with Alberto Chicote what does contribute this contact with the world of the television?

Many things, but principally a field of unpayable experience, in a profession where the times are very slow. Often desperate slow. The time of a work in architecture includes often several years. It is frequent that in the course of the production of a project for a contest, his adjudication, the draft of the project of execution and then the construction of the same one several years have spent. So many people that often the interest of the author is already in another place when still he is executing the above mentioned work, which in occasions turns out to be very frustrating.

The speed of the television stamps a slightly frequent agility on the construction, that though it is sea and sressful the certain thing is that it turns out to be extremely interesting. The need to take decisions very rapidly improves processes that in occasions are eternized and postpone in the draft of a project up to exhausting the period. In addition it turns out to be very satisfactory to see the result of the work in so short term.

Also it develops, or at least he trains, a certain aptitude to analyze situations rapidly, to detect problems, to understand the keys of a place, to direct the look.

In addition to work hand to hand with the big one of the kitchen as Alberto Chicote has allowed me to learn infinity of things brings over of the functioning of a restaurant that they turn out to be fundamental bear in mind in the moment of to project. It is surprising to discover that the chefs of this high level do the same questions to themselves and use concepts and analogous terms to used in architecture, only that do not load with the weight of the tradition in his rucksack. Valuable lessons of projects are learned listening to them to speak and seeing them to work.

It is really very satisfactory to be employed at a project in which two different disciplines like gastronomy and design, they join to advance of the hand prospering one to other one.

Finally, it turns out to be a stimulant exercise to have to be employed at very different records, since the nature of the television makes necessary that every project is different from the previous ones. We take more of half a hundred of reformed places in those who the day that issues the program the clients, are two million spectators who expect with curiosity to find a change every time different.

Enrique Barrera preparando el mural para el restaurante "La Mariña "(Luarca) | Fotografía: Yolanda González
Enrique Barrera preparing the mural for the restaurant “La Mariña “(Luarca) | Photography: Yolanda González

How many “hours” it is behind these “minutes issued” to realize the reform? How is it the process?

Intense, very intense. This question they fulfil me often, and I realize that when I answer it, without wanting it, I commit adultery the response. I joust on she having stopped being outlined by objection in which I have left me behind everything important. I do not know say really how much time has lasted.

The reform executes in 36 constant hours, but certainly, before it has been necessary to visit the place and raise a project. It is frequent that superpose several, for what it turns out almost impossible to quantify the time that goes each one. In my opinion in order that the offer works a real change has to manage happen. It is not a question of changing the color, or dressing the walls, but to managing to modify his nature, of re-meaning the place, “of transforming it into another thing”. It is something independent from the size or depth of the intervention, and is obtained based on drawing and of being employed at him up to verifying which is this change that arranges everything. Sometimes it happens fast, but the majority of the times I need to turn him and more returns up to understanding the place. And nevertheless then it turns out to be almost evident. The rest is a trade.

Certainly great part depends on rapid decisions that must think in work, because since in all the works they turn out to be great unforeseen, only that in a little time cannot postpone the decisions or wait to tomorrow, so constant it is necessary to derive to new solutions the project.

Though the subject matter of the program is recounted to the world of the kitchen and restaurants, he does not think that it is possible this reduction of the times of the work that they realize can “confuse” to the company leading them to thinking that the “royal” steps are this?

I do not believe it. To the whole world, and especially it looks like to the restorers an almost magic to achieve these results in this time. They do not see it by no means normally. What is done in the program is an offer of change of image, that is to say, to clarify ideas, to propose a powerful concept capable of ordering and meaning the place and of communicating to the public what in this house offers. It is not a question 100 % as a work to the use finished, but rather a point of item in order that the owner of the business then interpreter and closing the work. But of quite manners yes it is true that in the construction a good organization, an effective equipment, and especially to handle clear concepts from the conception of the design that they have presents his execution from the origin of the project, can reduce the times in the execution of the work of a very significant way with regard to what often we are accustomed.

Autoretrato tomado durante la reforma de "El mesón de Galicia" (Hamburgo) | Fotografía: Enrique Barrera
Autoportrait taken during the reform of “El mesón de Galicia” (Hamburgo) | Photography: Enrique Barrera

Given his experience in the world I televise does he think that there would be feasible a program that brings over the labor of the architects and designers to the company? And of feasible being does he think that it would be positive?

I am be absolutely sure of it. In fact I go trying for already several years, without success up to the moment, to extract to the light some programs and formats that we have developed in the study in this line. I presented it to several chains but I could not make them see the potential of the format. I don´t be if I will manage to extract anyone improve, but I have clear that it is question of time and coincidences of interests that have his opportunity programs of this nature. And they will work. It is clear that there is an increasing interest for already a few years of the public in general for the world of architecture and the design. What happens is that few attention lends so in the years of formation of the childhood and youth to these topics that later the adult though it detects and feeds the interest for these disciplines does not have words to speak either on it or foundations with which to be able to discuss, be positioned. In end, they want to take part but they do not have tools “to see the architecture “.

Curiously it was a question of formats that had not been almost tested and that recently have proved to harvest a success that has surprised to the own chains, since it is the case of Mejide’s Chester or more recently the program of Bertín Osborne’s interviews.

It would be been charmed with of speaking about these initiatives and even about that we were trying to start from a platform as interesting as your.

Undoubtedly this type of programs will exist, it is only a question of time (little, in my opinion) that come the conditions and sensations adapted to all the necessary parts in an audio-visual project in order that they take place.

In a recent article, Molina’s Santiago was writing on living without teachers”, might it X-ray the current panorama of the architecture and design?

Always I have thought that this labor is for impossible definition… Only you can understand what happens… When already it has happened. A system cannot be understood to yes same. Only the time and the distance allows to place you out of the picture and to look backward ” from out “. From inside it is not possible to understand anything, since a book cannot know what it carries.

I limit myself to doing. Already we will verify later what we are doing now.

Enrique Barrera | Fotografía: Carlos Valledor
Enrique Barrera | Photography: Carlos Valledor

The architecture, it has opened many fronts of battle (LSP, Bologna, unemployment, labor precariousness, Spades, ETSAs, emigration, communication, etc), will not they be too much for the existing polarization inside the same one?

Under the word architecture always there has been grouped infinity of topics and very different profiles. I think that it is a part of his great interest. But the architect works foreign to these questions… He neither writes himself to publish nor makes up to exhibit. The writer writes though they do not read him. The architecture happens independently of the laws or the labor situation. Another thing is that the panorama is or not more pleasing for the architects, but it does not have anything to see with the architecture.

How does it see the future of the architecture and of the design? And that of the profession?

That of the architecture and the design, phenomenal. As I say, it does not depend on the circumstances. Everything is designed. That of the profession is another topic. It is clear that the profession is re-defined and I believe that every time for worse for us. Increasingly ordinances, regulations and conditions that leave less place the individual and the architecture.

But it is like to complain from that the evil comes time. It does not solve anything. So it does not obsess the future, to think about him implies taking him time to the present, and enough I have in spite of extracting forward what exists today on the table. I remember certain interview in which they were asking Giacometti if these elongated faces were trying to catch the spirit of the model, to what the sculptor answered something as

“The spirit? Already I have sufficiently in spite of trying to represent his eye!”

I prefer for it to remember that one that Paul Valéry was saying

“that is enough to observe what happens in a water glass to happen writing the rest of your life”.

What does think of those that they have been going to work abroad?

The same thing that of those who have remained. The whole world tries to find his place. Today the “safety distance” has been extended enormously. Many people have gone away “exiled” with the feeling of not having another remedy, but great others have done it because they can, because they are prepared, because they have wanted to go towards the places where the things happen. It seems to me to be marvellous. It will have some day in which it will not have felt to speak of going out or of remaining inside, because everything will be happily the same thing.

Jornada organizada y moderada por Enrique Barrera para ESNE sobre Gastronomía y Diseño bajo el título ¿Dónde Comemos? Autor: Muriel de Gracia Wittemberg (en la fotografía aparecen, de izq a derecha: Arturo Pardos, David Muñoz, Enrique Barrera, Eva Almohacid y Fernando Moral)
Day organized and moderated by Enrique Barrera for ESNE on Gastronomy and Design under the title where Do We Eat? | It comes out in photographs: Muriel of Grace Wittemberg (from left side to right: Arturo Pardos, David Muñoz, Enrique Barrera, Eve Almohacid and Fernando Moral)

What does think of the architects who undertake in new fields?

I do not surprise it by no means. I do not believe in architects who undertake in new fields. That is to say, often one speaks so that it seems that the condition to be an architect was a condition a priori. A clear term and unívocamente definite, perfectly fenced, of that certain individuals ” leave” to devote itself to do another thing … in spite of being an architect.

But the certain thing is that to be an architect it implies more than at all a way of thinking. A singular sensibility towards what it surrounds us. I do not understand the difference between an architect, a writer, a filmmaker, a painter, a draftsman, an ama de casa, a monk Buddhist…

The architecture is only a trade. What yes I believe is that it is the work who does the author, and the exercise of the architecture constructs a being fascinated by the world, who in everything finds interest.

Is it satisfied with his professional path? What projects of future do wait?

Certainly that not, always I feel incomplete, unsatisfied. Always the sensation of not having managed to take every project a bit beyond. It turns out to be Inevitable to regret finishing the projects. Not to be able to perpetuate the emotion of the things that still can be, this Schrödinger’s cat that is the natural condition of to project. As the project is executed, coagulates, crystallizes, loses his multiplicity in favor of an alone reality and leaves less and less site everything what could be.

Projects of future? They appear every day. Only I wait to be opened what comes to seize every opportunity as an opportunity to learn, of working, of evolving, of helping, of investigating, of snooping, of breaking, of beginning, of amusing myself, of trying, of being wrong…

Finishing, what would him advise the current students and future professionals of architecture?

I am not anybody to give advices to anybody. I share this maxim of which the only thing that is lawful to teach is to teach to learning.

But if I have to say something to them, not as teacher, but as companion of profession, of interests, as companion of trip in this time so short that we have had to share he would say to them that they should not worry for the situation, that they do not listen to anybody, that they prove to be active and optimistic, because the architecture deals neither on crisis, nor on tastes, nor on money.

He would say to them that they should smile and draw … draw … draw…

Enrique Barrera | Fotografía: Carlos Valledor
Enrique Barrera | Photography: Carlos Valledor

Enrique Barrera · Architect, Designer, Interiorista, The Director of Art and teacher in ESNE
November, 2016

Interview realized by Ana Barreiro Blanco and Alberto Alonso Oro. To be grateful for Enrique his time and predisposition with this small space.

Alberto Alonso Oro

Arquitecto y editor en veredes, arquitectura y divulgación. Invernalia es un buen lugar. A veces escribo en Fundacion Arquia.

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