Expressive, inspiring, and timeless spaces comprise the architectural production of Farca + Grappin. In this interview, the multifaceted team talks to us about the materiality background for their projects, their design philosophy, and future prospects.
The design studio Farca + Grappin is characterized by the meticulous attention they pay to every part of their projects in order to obtain results which are in sync with users and the context. The firm was founded in 1995 by Ezequiel Farca, who majored in Industrial Design and who later partnered up with Cristina Grappin, who studied Architecture and Interior Design. The combination of scales and diverse typologies in which they have ventured has made their interdisciplinary collaboration possible. The attention they pay to each element, from materials and the weather to craftwork provides their projects with the atmospheric materiality quality.
1. Farca + Grappin is characterized for the timeless and universality in the designs you create. Which features do you consider make up timelessness in architecture?
We believe that there is good and bad architecture. The timeless and universal concepts should be present in architecture that works, since men have inhabited architecture in one way or another since they can remember. We believe that the architectural features that do us good are timeless qualities, which will remain with us until our way of inhabiting this world changes. What we refer to when we speak about what does us good are basic (and not so basic) needs, which we also get from architecture and design, and which solve our everyday problems; shelter, protection against the elements, speaking about the most basic aspects until we reach the spiritual world, like cathedrals and temples do, which are still standing.
The way we achieve this in our projects is by looking for a balanced order between spaces and structures, offering and using natural materials from the area, searching for a human scale for projects and adding natural elements to the spaces we live in every day.
2. In the book Philip Jodidio wrote about you, he speaks about the philosophy you have developed throughout your career for the materials you use and which visibly characterizes your work. Where does this material treatment come from and what does this material conception consist of?
We believe in the application of natural and technological materials according to the specific needs of the design. Due to sustainability and the particular features in an area, we like to choose local materials for the work in progress, since the place and the built or natural contexts are also part of the equation in the way we design architecture. We feel passionate about working with different scales, techniques, and materials with different craftspeople and artists who provide our design with a timeless, cultural, and historical character.
3. Each Farca + Grappin project is unique, mostly thanks to the attention you pay to weather conditions and the needs of every user, but a constant is the atmospheric quality of the design. How do you manage to transmit this and what is the role of material choosing in the process?
We also believe that the geographic location of each project is very important for their character. In addition to the local cultural conditions and the background, weather is very important during the design decision-making process. In the studio, for the development of each project from their early phases, we work with teams who specialize in bioclimatics and help us as consultants when selecting some materials for their thermal qualities, in addition to their aesthetics. This kind of joint work enriches the architectural project when it comes to comfort, energy saving, sensory qualities in each space through the addition of natural light, textures in materials, water bodies, among others.
4. Casa Maravilla is a wonderful example of how architecture can blend with nature through materials. Which are the main materials you chose for this project and how do they complement each other?
Casa Maravilla was a very interesting exercise, and so we meant for it to be a project rooted to the background, both historical and natural. We tried to include different patios across the whole house to add natural ventilation and light to every space (since the piece of land is very long) and we gave each one a particular identity by using courtyards and Mexican gardens and the desert as reference.
Also, since Cabo is a place with a lot of character and natural beauty, we felt that the material selection was given by the place. We reinterpreted the colors of the bays in ceramics, for example, the natural elements and colors of the desert in marbles, woods, and textures across the house. We believe this kind of architecture shall not stand out from its surroundings, on the contrary, it should blend in as much as possible with its natural and built environment. Most of the marble used was Vermont, for its neutral color and timelessness.
5. Your firm has branched out into unusual areas, such as interior design for yachts and you have branches in Milan, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. Which projects do you consider have been key in order to reach this diversification and international recognition?
Working with different typologies and scales has allowed us to explore and expand the number of projects regardless of their location, everything through a design-applied methodology and an organization which has managed to implement processes and grow organically.
The important thing here is not to have projects anywhere, but to deal with them in a customized way. What we care about most is that we can offer something and transform the use of space and the way people live in each project.
6. We know that interdisciplinary collaboration is an essential part of your firm, since not only you have a different training, but your team is made up by professionals in different areas. Could you share with us the ways in which this ideology and the different design scales provide an added value to your work?We like to think that design is the solution to everyday problems. The methodology while addressing these problems sometimes has nothing to do with the scale of things or the project to be designed. It has more to do with the analytical ability of the designers, their personal experiences, and the knowledge of the historical / cultural study of what is being designed. In the studio, we complement each other very well from the first stages of each project, because the specialists in each area add to one design idea, which converges in the built work. We pay the same attention to the details in furniture than to designing the architectural or structural details in
7. During an interview, you shared that your practice is influenced by several architectural styles and by a legacy of architects, such as Barragán and Neutra. Which is the importance you give to having these names as inspiration and which other architects or designers have had an impact on your practice?
With Neutra we see that the simplicity in spaces and the proximity to simplicity are synonym of pureness, the building methods applied, the materials are part of the language in their architecture. On the other hand, Barragán has taught us that spaces are meant to be lived and felt.
We believe it is important to look into the past to understand the future, not only in design and architecture, but also in literature, cinema, theater, and religion; in the end, everything has an impact in one way or another.
“We must reconcile with our roots in order to be truly modern.” - Octavio Paz
8. I believe something that makes you stand out from many teams is your ability and tenacity for developing a visual language that synthesizes the character of your firm. What advice would you give emerging designers so they can achieve this quality in their production?
To always be analytical, to observe. Whether the surroundings, your client, the socio-political and economic background of the area to be designed. Being able to feel passionate about this profession is something we should be thankful for, but it also carries a great social and ecological responsibility, which we should never neglect.
9. What is the next step for Farca + Grappin, which topics or scales would you like to explore?
Exploring with different scales, contexts is always challenging and it motivates us as firm. We are currently working on projects with completely different cultural and social backgrounds, which is something we are used to (with a project in Saudi Arabia) and this helps us grow professionally and continue learning from our client and project. We would love to continue to have the opportunity to keep on learning and offering our experience and will to do things well.
Ver Mármol Vermont utilizado en Casa Maravilla