Interview with Josep Maria Aixut of Aixut Interiorisme

Josep Maria Aixut

He is passionate about interior architecture. He never goes out without a paper and pencil in his pocket, his head is abuzz with ideas and he needs to be ready when inspiration strikes. He considers himself lucky. Since he started making photocopies at the age of 7 in his father’s interior design studio, he has not stopped doing what he likes the most: transforming spaces to make them beautiful and functional.

Aixut Interiorisme has been dedicated to interior architecture for more than 30 years. How would you define the studio’s professional career?

Aixut Interiorisme is a family business that was founded by my father and a partner under the name Aixut Alvarado. Since they both retired, it has continued under my creative direction and that of my wife, who is in charge of all the administrative part.

Aixut Interiorisme
Sala espera Hotel Brisa. Sant Antoni de Portman, Ibiza.

Would you say you have a recognizable style?

I suppose so, many of my clients can recognize the projects we work on. Despite the fact that our work philosophy implies adapting to the tastes and needs of our clients without ever repeating ourselves, in the end it is almost inevitable that we leave our personal mark. We carry out numerous works on the island of Ibiza and, as it is such a limited territory, we consider it essential never to develop two identical projects.

Aixut Interiorisme
Sala lectura Hotel Brisa. Sant Antoni de Portmany, Ibiza.

How would you define that personal stamp?

Personally I’m always in search of functionality and dynamism. Starting from there, I develop the first ideas in sketches of plans that lay out directions, how people move about and spaces adapted to the needs of the clients.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cocina y salón vivienda particular. Ibiza.

Do you follow a methodology when facing an interior design project?

I like to develop projects as if they were for me. First, I listen to the client’s needs, I try to internalize them and from there I design using my own criteria, although obviously, always including their personal preferences. My way of designing is very peculiar. After taking measurements I always carry them about hand-drawn on a piece of paper in my pocket, so that when an idea occurs to me, wherever it is, I can automatically incorporate it. Some projects flow straight away, but others can stay in my pocket for days until I get the perfect solution that shapes them.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cocina vivienda particular. Ibiza.

Aixut Interiorisme is especially strong in the hotel industry and holiday homes in the Balearic Islands. What are the specific demands of this service?

We have several types of clients, depending on whether they are dedicated to seasonal or all-year-round tourism. We try to design a flexible interior design for the hotels that open all year round that provide warmth during winter and coolness in summer. Another condition is linked to the type of visitors they receive, the Italian, German or English visitors are totally different. But something common to all our clients is that we always establish an extremely close relationship of trust before, during and after the project. With the work already completed, it is quite common that each year we carry out different adjustments and fine-tuning. We are proud to say that, as a service company, we have clients in the hotel and the dwelling sectors with whom we have been working continuously for thirty years.

Aixut Interiorisme
Dormitorio vivienda particular. Ibiza.

The hotel industry is one of the industries that consumes most energy in Spain. Is the equation that factors comfort, efficiency and return on investment basic requirements when you design lighting?

We always try to achieve maximum energy savings in our projects. Without a doubt, the appearance of led technology and control systems has been of great help because we can create scenarios and adjust consumption to ideal levels, increasing quality, comfort and service.  It’s important to point out that Aixut Interiorisme doesn’t just handle interior design but develops global projects that take into account the consumption of electricity, gas and water and focusses intently technical installations, climate control and kitchens.

Aixut Interiorisme
Recepción Apartamentos Oasis Sa Tanca. Cala Llonga, Ibiza.

Home interior design is another area in which you are especially active. In this area, linear LEDs provide a wide variety of lighting solutions. Do you like to use light lines? What are your favourite uses?

I confess that I am a great admirer of led strips and I always fit them into our projects. We put a lot of thought into lighting, as it is the component that provides the greatest degree of comfort. Personally, I find indirect lighting attractive. Human beings receive sunlight from above, therefore it seems important to me to apply this principle in artificial lighting. When you install spotlights, you see a very intense point of light that generates a pool of light on the floor, not on the ceiling. That is why I consider that linear LEDs integrated into recesses, false ceilings, or with specific profiles that hide them, do let you light the ceiling. Then you can always add a fitting to provide focussed light at a certain point, but when designing general lighting, the linear led system provides greater uniformity, comfort and visual quality in all spaces.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cafeteria y terraza Hotel Lux Isla. Platja de Talamanca, Ibiza.

Could you mention a project in which the linear LEDs have solved a specific challenge?

In the renovation of the Sal Rossa tourist apartments in Platja d’en Bossa in Ibiza we had to renovate the pool area, located on a floating floor due to the problems associated with being in a flood zone. We had to adapt the lighting to the existing kidney shape and the best solution was offered by Lluria’s Wolf strip, as it had an IP68 rating and met the requirements of being flexible, submersible, shock and weather- resistant. Moreover, the resin capsule does not turn yellow in time, as it usually does. The client is very satisfied with the result, the lighting creates the right atmosphere for outdoor dining on summer nights.

Aixut Interiorisme
Terraza piscina Apartamentos Sal Rossa. Platja d'en Bossa, Ibiza.

Interior and exterior design with dynamic light

Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo
Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo

The notion that artificial light can only be switched on or off is now a thing of the past. Dynamic lighting has come to stay, thanks to LED technology and its control systems. But what is dynamic light? Well, its lighting that can vary and change, to better adapt to the room or the needs of the people, through changes in colour temperature, intensity and even chromatic spectrum.

Restaurante Zela. Londres. BMLD.
Zela Restaurant. London. BMLD.

Natural light as a benchmark
Sunlight is dynamic by nature, transforming its composition and distribution throughout the day, with changing speeds and patterns that we as humans find fascinating. In indoor spaces, the distribution of natural light is made up of diffused light and reflected light, which is redistributed on surfaces in a complex way, thanks to refraction and reflection. Fortunately, LED technology now allows us to reproduce and reinterpret the dynamic nature of natural light both indoors and outdoors.

Lluria Xperience reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Benefits
Static lighting affects the way we perceive our environment, whereas dynamic lighting has the added ability to influence our emotions and sensations. Because it is flexible and customisable, it helps create comfortable, adaptable spaces that are more centred on the human being. Dynamic light also provides more experience- and sensory spaces, whether by amplifying our feelings, as in commercial shops, concerts and events, or by helping us to reconnect with ourselves, in more private and relaxing spaces, where the changes in brightness and tone can generate feelings of wellbeing. When dynamic lighting imitates the natural rhythm of the day and night, it helps to improve our inner biological clocks.

But what are the most common applications of dynamic lighting?

Vivienda particular. Bellaterra. Vié iluminación.
Private house. Bellaterra, Barcelona. Vié iluminación.

Connecting with the outdoors / Imitating daylight
A paradigmatic case of this would be an office, where the quality of natural light is fundamental, according to WELL certification standards. Dynamic lighting can adapt to the tasks and needs of each user, making for better attention and concentration.

For industrial work, dynamic lighting ensures the workers’ state of alertness and concentration, fostering greater safety.

Similarly, in the school setting, it has been proven that students’ performance improves significantly under dynamic lighting. The youngest children particularly benefit from a type of lighting that supports their activity and rest periods.

And in homes that lack natural light, the changing patterns of the lighting help the people to feel more connected with the outside world.

Hotel SB Glow. inSense + Alado Studio

Achieving flexibility in use
In places like the hotel lobbies, event reception halls, multipurpose halls and auditoriums, dynamic lighting can quickly transform and adapt the spaces to the specific type of event or to new uses, and it is unquestionably an advantage when it comes to selling services.

Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo
Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo

Changing the mood or the perception of the space
A simple change in intensity or colour temperature can have an enormous effect on our perception. In the case of entertainment establishments, restaurants and bars, the variations throughout the day, with brighter and more energetic light during the hours of sunlight and a more diffused and warmer light from sunset onward, for example, can have a direct effect on users and their consumption habits.

Museo Egipcio Barcelona
Museo Egipcio Barcelona

Highlighting products, objects and works of art
In commercial and leisure and entertainment sites, shop windows and hospitality centres, yet also in museums, the use of dynamic lighting, whether in white or other colours, enables us to emphasise the objects on display, guide the visitor and communicate brand identity. It also enables us to evoke a given mood or recreate an inspiring environment, reinforcing the story that is being told. In commercial architecture, LED lighting can be truly dynamic, allowing for virtually infinite variations in colour temperature, colour reproduction and saturated colour.

Roca Gallery. Barcelona. inSense
Roca Gallery Barcelona. inSense

Dynamic lighting for outdoors and façades
The advantage of implementing dynamic lighting in urban spaces is its capacity to generate a visually more alluring and sustainable setting. Though it is advisable to avoid bombarding the senses when calling people’s attention, dynamic lighting improves the use of the spaces, and cities are opting for permanent and temporary lighting installations, thanks to their ability to attract visitors.

Lluria Xperience. reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Lighting and music
The design of dynamic lighting is closely related to music, as a sequence of dynamic patterns, rhythms, phrases and events that take place in time. Moreover, light and sound are two materials that when brought together mutually reinforce one another and enhance our sensory experience. As a result, it is hard to find music without dynamic lighting, which is essential at concerts, events and discotheques.

BGA Ganjilk Mall.
Ganjlik Mall. Lighting Design Collective

How to design dynamic lighting
Dynamic lighting requires careful planning to ensure that it satisfies the needs of the people, the space and the intended uses of the space. It is a detailed process that will generate a flexible space envisaged to improve the human experience; a space that can be adapted to new uses and new technologies. The idea is not to play with flashy lighting effects that can ultimately become tiresome, but rather to plan out a lighting that provides real added value to the space and the users.

Hence, the first step is to understand the needs of both the space and the user. Next, the different settings of the space must be defined, documenting and discussing them with the client who will be using the space. The following step is to decide on the most suitable type of dynamic lighting and the control system, as well as defining whether the dynamism will be automatic or whether it will require some sort of user interaction. Finally, the envisaged settings will be viewed, making any necessary adjustments during construction.