Welcome to another installment of Future Talks by RTF, where we delve into the minds of design pioneers who breathe life into their creations. In today’s conversation, we have the privilege of exploring the world of Studio Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge, an architectural studio based in the vibrant city of Barcelona. Their work is a testament to innovation, rooted in a relentless pursuit of new forms of expression and an unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility.

At the heart of this studio’s creative process lies a profound appreciation for the beauty of simplicity. They embark on a journey to understand the essence of the existing space and its environment, employing a conscious and coherent approach that harmonizes aesthetics with sustainability. The careful selection of materials and design decisions serves as a testament to their dedication to crafting spaces that seamlessly blur the boundaries between the artificial and the natural.

Led by the visionary Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge, this studio spans an array of design disciplines, encompassing architecture, interior design, and furniture. Drawing from his professional journey, which includes experiences in the esteemed Japanese studios of Junya Ishigami and Kengo Kuma, Roman infuses his creations with a unique sensitivity and a profound Japanese influence.

The end result? A warm architecture that weaves together nature, light, and time to craft atmospheres that are truly one-of-a-kind. Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge’s educational pursuits and artistic experimentation further underline his dedication to the craft, making him not just a practitioner but also a mentor, sharing his knowledge with the world.

The accolades that adorn Studio Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge’s portfolio are a testament to their prowess. From participating in the prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition in 2021 with the theme “Time Space Existence” to being a finalist in the Dezeen Awards 2020 as the “Emergent Interior Designer of the Year,” their work has left an indelible mark on the design world. International recognition from the likes of the International Design Awards (IDA) and the Rethinking the Future Awards further cement their status as design trailblazers.

As our guest today, Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge is not just a designer but also a teacher, imparting his knowledge through the Domestika course “Japanese-Inspired Interior Design with Wood” and as a professor at Artidi, Barcelona School of Visual Merchandising and Design. His subjects of expertise, which include Light, Concept and Form, Materials, and dialogue with Space, and Commercial Interior Design, exemplify his commitment to nurturing the next generation of design visionaries.

Join us as we embark on a journey through the world of Studio Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge, where design, innovation, and environmental responsibility coalesce to create spaces that are not just visually stunning but emotionally captivating.

RTF: Hi Roman, We are glad to have you as a guest on Future Talks by RTF. Thanks for joining us. Tell us about the progression of your career and what were some hurdles along the way.

Roman: Greetings. It’s a pleasure to be part of this engaging conversation at Future Talks. When reflecting on pivotal moments in my career, I can identify two significant turning points that have required both internal and external navigation.

The first of these moments transpired during the nascent phase of my professional journey, while studying architecture at the Barcelona university. Several professors held the belief that my aptitude as a student was lacking and advised me to contemplate a change in my academic path, away from architecture. Upon my graduation, I still grappled with finding a profound and authentic connection to the field. It was at this juncture that I made a decision to embark on a quest for existential answers in Japan. There, I had the privilege of learning from the distinguished studios Junya Ishigami and Kengo Kuma.

Their visionary insights and boundless creativity, as it relates to architecture, extended beyond the conventional. It encompassed an intricate perception of empty space, the delicate interplay of natural light, the warmth exuded by the natural world, a profound understanding of the passage of time, and the ephemeral nature of matter. Their meticulous craftsmanship, their delicate sensibility, and their expansive approach to creation resonated with me. It was in that transformative moment that I unearthed a genuine purpose in architecture, and it was there that my passion truly took root. Without that encounter, I am convinced I would not have been able to sustain my career in architecture.

RTF: Could you tell us about your second crucial moment in your architectural career?

Roman: The second crucial turning point in my architectural career was intricately linked to the establishment of my studio. Initially, my professional journey involved collaborations with various architectural firms in Barcelona, alongside personal projects I was developing. It was during this phase that I undertook a substantial project, which, unfortunately, did not materialize as expected, leaving me facing a challenging situation. However, rather than viewing this setback as a failure, I chose to perceive it as an opportunity for growth, motivating me to actively seek out new prospects. Ultimately, this marked the genesis of my architectural studio.

RTF: How important is it for young architects and designers to know the aspects related to publishing? What advice would you give to emerging architects? 

Roman: I believe that, upon the completion of a project, there is a responsibility to embark on the task of representation. This intricate process requires the selection of a photographer who possesses the unique ability to interpret the space in a manner that harmoniously resonates with the design essence. The chosen photographer should capture the multidimensional aspects of the atmosphere, encompassing spatial, material, luminous, and compositional elements, thereby encapsulating the project’s soul.

In my perspective, the project itself and its human perception exist in a symbiotic relationship. The project influences the perception of those who experience it, just as the perception of the space can, in turn, influence the very essence of the project itself. Consequently, the method of reflecting our designs assumes a position of paramount importance within our studio. This is because it holds the key to shaping the perception and interpretation of our work once it is presented to publishing.

RTF: How important is a ‘Constantly Learning’ attitude in design and architecture?

Roman: I think that the constant pursuit of learning, in both design and architecture, should be an inherent consequence of an insatiable desire for discovery and exploration. It is a passion for unearthing novel avenues of creation, a process of learning through observation, hands-on experience, experimentation, and the acceptance of one’s mistakes. Within the realm of architecture, each client represents an opportunity to acquire an understanding of diverse ways of living. Every design project serves as a chance to explore distinct methods of creating unique atmospheres, a canvas upon which to play with space, light, location, materials, and nature.

Beyond the confines of architecture, I personally hold the belief that the act of learning is vital to feeling alive. However, there exists a certain paradox in the notion that, to acquire certain forms of knowledge, it is often necessary to unlearn established mental patterns or preconceived notions that can constrict the pursuit of genuine and coherent learning from within.

RTF: What is your process of developing the initial thoughts about a project? How do you start?

Roman: The initial thoughts in architectural design often begin with questions. I engage in a dialogue with the client, striving to understand facets of their personality and their envisioned way of living. In the case of corporate clients, I delve into their identity and expectations. I ponder how to enhance the architectural quality of the existing space, its material worth, play with natural light, improve energy efficiency, explore the project’s relationship with its surroundings, cultural context, or environment. These initial thoughts essentially revolve around analyzing the stage upon which diverse initial concepts subsequently emerge.

Through a combination of analytical and intuitive thinking, certain responses come forth, ultimately forming the core concept of the project. This response is unique to each project: whether it involves creating a field of flowers under the shade of trees, shaping distinct planes with sea views, reinterpreting the Japanese torii symbol, creating a succession of rooms with sliding doors, reimagining the traditional Japanese house, or highlighting the material value of the existing space. From that point, the concept is developed in greater detail, with a conscious effort to preserve its essence throughout the design process.

RTF: Who has been your inspiration throughout your architectural journey?

Roman: As I mentioned, my passion for architecture has a strong connection to Japanese architectural traditions and the philosophy behind them. I draw inspiration from a range of architects who have left a significant mark on the field, including Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa, Kengo Kuma, Jun Igarashi, Junya Ishigami, Go Hasegawa, Sou Fujimoto, and others. Their work offers innovative perspectives and ideas that continually influence my own approach to architecture.

Furthermore, I find the work of Olafur Eliasson deeply intriguing. He has a unique way of playing with space, light, water, and nature that provokes thought and emotion. His creations show how architecture can be a powerful medium for creating experiences. I’m also fascinated by the immersive environments by the master James Turrell. His expertise in playing with light and space provides thought-provoking encounters that challenge our perceptions and create a strong connection between architecture, art, and our personal experiences. My admiration for these architects and artists serves as a constant source of inspiration for my architectural work.

RTF: What are your views on sustainability in architecture? 

Roman: I believe that architecture should adhere to sustainability and energy efficiency criteria, and it is our responsibility to design in alignment with these principles. Our approach to sustainability encompasses several key criteria. 

First and foremost, we prioritize minimal intervention as a fundamental aspect of sustainability. This principle aligns with our pursuit of simplicity and aims to minimize the use of material and energy resources in our projects. Our goal is to reduce the environmental impact of our designs by intervening as little as possible.

Secondly, we emphasize the creation of spaces with programmatic flexibility, allowing for potential modifications to meet the changing needs of users in the future. This approach not only reduces the environmental cost of potential future alterations but also enhances the overall potential of the space. We achieve this by designing versatile spaces with interconnected rooms without a fixed function, as well as by implementing modular wood systems.

Third, wood is as a central element in our sustainability and aesthetics criteria, which holds particular significance. Wood, being both lightweight and sustainable, not only imparts a sense of warmth and organic beauty to the spaces we create but also plays a crucial role in mitigating the environmental impact of our architectural endeavors. This eco-friendly material serves as an exemplar of resource efficiency and regenerativity, contributing to the preservation of our planet’s natural resources.

Finally, the inclusion of plants and trees in our projects not only enhances the indoor air quality but also naturally regulates humidity. Once more, sustainability and aesthetics converge through an element that infuses warmth into the new atmospheres created. The presence of nature within our designs seeks to reestablish the human connection to their innate state of harmony with the natural world, blurring the boundaries between the natural and the artificial, between living and non-living matter, while reflecting the passage of time.

RTF: What’s your take on AI and architecture/design?

Roman: This is a complex question, as I am unaware of the limits to which artificial intelligence may evolve in the future. Honestly, it instills a sense of apprehension within me. The prior technological revolution of a few decades ago, marked by the advent of the internet, altered our world and way of living. There is a trend in technological advancements that promise a more comfortable, interconnected life in a globalized world, with improved time efficiency and resource optimization, offering virtual experiences that trigger dopamine responses in our brains. In this context, AI is poised to delve into numerous uncharted territories, which will undoubtedly be fascinating to witness and explore. However, if these developments lead to a greater degree of dehumanization and a diminished connection with the authentic realities of our existence, the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages of technological progress.

Expanding upon this concept within the realms of architecture and design, I firmly believe that AI will yield unimaginable outcomes, data, and processes that will greatly enhance the architect’s work and the execution of construction projects, ultimately optimizing energy efficiency in buildings. Nonetheless, much like what we witnessed with the emergence of industrialized construction methods, as opposed to the traditional craftsmanship, I harbor concerns that a heightened degree of optimization may lead to a reduction in beauty, uniqueness, and a departure from human essence. When one observes the buildings in Barcelona, both within the Eixample district and the neighborhoods that evolved from old villages, it becomes apparent that older structures often possess a higher level of architectural quality than the new ones.

RTF: Where does one find you when not working?

Roman: When I’m not working, you’ll typically find me spending time with my two children, which might involve outdoor walks, engaging in playtime, or occasionally refereeing a child’s squabble… I also enjoy playing the acoustic guitar, immersing myself in a captivating book, and savoring a conversation over a cold beer with my wife or friends.

 

Author

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.