At COMPAC, we have been researching matter for years. We are a company that this year celebrates its 47th anniversary. We have the knowledge, technology and experience necessary to offer surfaces of extraordinary technical qualities, beauty and versatility to shape any space or architectural element. Our SALON COMPAC is an avant-garde space of 1,200 m² that, under the slogan the Matter Mastering Immersion, shows our relationship with matter. Transferring this idea to architects, designers and interior designers is the reason of creation of this new space. But we also wanted to do it without saying a word. We wanted to convey our passion for matter and our mastery of it in an experiential and immersive way that was also inspiring.
Architizer chatted with Paco Sanchis, CEO at COMPAC, to learn more about Salon – The Matter Mastering Immersion.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Paco Sanchis: The concept that acts as the backbone of the project is the transformation. The objective of SALON COMPAC is to highlight the value of our materials and their potential. To do this, we wanted to tell how the transformation process goes from the raw material to the final product and to show how technology helps us to create materials with unsurpassed technical qualities.
The material should be a way to encourage creativity and not a limit. Everything depends on the perspective and creativity of the person who works with it. That is why our SALON is an inspirational space. A place to feel and imagine. A place to help architects, designers and interior designers to enrich their projects and creations.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
From my point of view, SALON COMPAC has a very particular atmosphere. We wanted to stimulate the visitor’s imagination. To generate a landscape and a different sensory language.
When we ask visitors, two elements stand out: the staircase and the courtyard. The first, sculpted from eight blocks of Terrazzo COMPAC, shows through its elegance and robustness the great potential of the material. The courtyard is striking for its simplicity and the majesty of its four and a half meter high walls also made of Terrazzo COMPAC. To achieve the curvatures of the installation, we have mechanized our material with a technique that allows us to give it that shape. Also, we have carved our logo on our material as a sample of the infinite possibilities offered by the possibility of surface sculpting.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
One of the challenges we faced when we conceived the project was to make the visitor perceive our philosophy and values at all times, so that our company culture could be breathed in every corner. Our passion for what we do is what has allowed us to impregnate the entire space with the COMPAC signature.
At the beginning, we planned a first showroom, built it and decided to tear it down and start from scratch, because we felt that we had much more to tell and that we had to do it in a much more innovative way.
How did the context of your project — environmental, social or cultural — influence your design?
This project is an idea that we have been working on for several years. It has, therefore, evolved and changed over time, however, it faithfully responds to our essence. It reflects what COMPAC offers to the sector in a timeless and, like everything that inspires us, disruptive way.
It is true that the pandemic delayed its opening, although we have been able to maintain its activity privately for almost two years. Recently we have been able to celebrate an official opening event with the presentation of sculpture that has been chosen to represent the ARQUITECTURA Awards promoted by CSCAE and sponsored by COMPAC.
What drove the selection of materials used in the project?
Currently COMPAC has two factories, one in Gandia, Spain where we produce Obsidiana and Terrazzo, and the other one in Abrantes, Portugal where we produce Quartz.
These three materials are the origin of the whole COMPAC universe and are the ones we have put in value throughout the course of our SALON. We like to push our products to the limit and challenge our own processes, so we wanted professionals to be able to see, touch and feel all the solutions they have at their disposal to bring their designs to life. Our latest collections Unique and Genesis have special prominence, as well as COMPAC’s most sustainable material, Obsidiana, created with 100% recycled glass. Also, we exhibit Terrazzo, a material with extraordinary technical qualities. All our products are applied throughout the tour represented in sculptures, works of art and functional architectural elements.
What is your favorite detail in the project and why?
SALON has different scenes, different spaces where you can interact with the product, where you can learn about our processes and our history, but from the moment you enter until the end of the experience in our office, our values (passion, clarity, team and respect) are present. From an architectural point of view, I would highlight the courtyard, a space that shows the maximum expression of our material through its structure. The cladding and the pieces inside it have been made of our Terrazzo. The versatility of our materials and the endless possibilities that the professionals have to use them in their projects is evident in this room. An inspirational and evocative place that enhances the imagination of our visitors.
How important was sustainability as a design criteria as you worked on this project?
At COMPAC we have a great respect for nature, it is part of our DNA and is our greatest source of inspiration, which is why we have designated a space within the tour that represents our sustainable philosophy, IQ Circular Science, “The Responsible Sense of COMPAC”.
The space is presided over by a “Tipiuana Tipu” tree that represents the 30,000 trees we have planted in our factory in Portugal to offset CO2. In addition, our factories have a rainwater collection system and two water treatment plants that allow us to reuse 98% of the water in our production process, where energy comes from 100% renewable sources.
Next to the tree is a solid sculpture by Arik Levy, made in Terrazzo COMPAC, which shape is reminiscent of a tree trunk with the function of a bench almost 3 meters long on which to sit and contemplate nature, inviting us to reflect and to inspire.
In what ways did you collaborate with others, and how did that add value to the project?
Throughout the visit to SALON COMPAC our visitors will find different sculptures, unique pieces and exclusive projects that show the versatility of our materials and their ability to inspire artists and creators.
There are sculptures by Arik Levy, “Ghost” or Rubén Fuentes Fuertes, “Head” or projects that COMPAC has carried out in collaboration with other designers and architectural firms: “Hammam” developed together with GG Architects or “Stepwell”, a collaboration with the London firm Coffey Architects.
All these works add value to our showroom because they are in line with our Minds Over Matter philosophy, we are convinced that when the mind dominates matter, unique pieces and inspiring experiences emerge. They have played with geometries, lighting, angles and other features, achieving pieces of design and architecture recognized by international institutions.
Were any parts of the project dramatically altered from conception to construction, and if so, why?
One of the most striking elements of our SALON COMPAC is a large solid staircase designed by our Architecture and Projects Department. It is made entirely from our Terrazzo COMPAC, including its handrail, which has been sculpted into the vertical structure and polished by hand. We used 8 vertical blocks where we fitted different modules of steps. The staircase is a large volume piece that weighs 50 tons and measures 5.2 meters high, its magnificent dimension makes it spectacular to the eye of our visitors. We were able to integrate a 3D element that is functional, structural, constructive and sculptural using our material. Originally we were going to use a conventional staircase, but we decided that it was an excellent opportunity to show the potential of our materials by creating a fully sculpted functional and architectural piece.
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
The feeling we perceive the most in our customers after visiting SALON COMPAC is surprise. Seeing all our materials displayed in such a disruptive way amazes them. In addition, learning about the technology, innovation and getting to know the team behind each collection is a boost to many of their ideas and projects.
If there is one thing that stands out, it is that they discover new aesthetic and functional possibilities that help them in specific construction challenges. They are attracted by the large formats we handle and the structures and geometries we have achieved with every detail. They congratulate us and remark that it is a space completely impregnated with the essence of COMPAC. Here they allow to let their imagination run wild and give way to the Minds Over Matter.
What key lesson did you learn in the process of conceiving the project?
The most exciting part of this project has been the internal journey that has forced us to make within the company. Searching for the formula to show the world that we are capable of doing what made us grow as a company. The involvement of the entire team has been the main driver of the project and my greatest satisfaction.
At COMPAC we challenge ourselves and always go beyond, we like to challenge our own limits and those of our materials to find the best solutions on the market. This is a space that has also served us for experimentation and to test techniques that we have achieved in order to solve the needs of our customers.
How do you believe this project represents you or your firm as a whole?
Our SALON has our essence and philosophy impregnated in every detail. It is a faithful example of our passion for mastering the matter. Of how we believe in its infinite possibilities. Of our daily effort to master it and obtain new nuances, new uses, new techniques and applications.
Here are marked our values and what moves our fibers. To be unique in what we work for on a daily basis and that, according to what we have been told, is what is reflected in the experience of our visitors.
To achieve this, the talent of our team has been essential. They are the cornerstone of the company and the reason for our achievements. We like to work side by side with designers, architects, interior designers, universities… And in this space it is patent.
How do you imagine this project influencing your work in the future?
The main objective we set when we created the SALON COMPAC was to be a source of inspiration and origin of synergies, projects and collaborations. And this is something that has already started to happen. But this is a two-way trip, because for us, being in contact with professionals is tremendously enriching, it allows us to know what their aspirations and challenges are, so that they are the ones who drive us to continue researching, innovating and developing surfaces that respond to their creative challenges.
We are constantly experimenting in our SALON with new techniques, new materials, new solutions… We have a laboratory-like space where we introduce some project tests and other sections that allow us to share the richness obtained from the collaboration with prestigious universities such as the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.
Is there anything else important you’d like to share about this project?
The awards obtained in recent months, including the Red Dot Design Best of the Best awarded to the Ice of Genesis collection and the FX International Interior Design Award 2021 for the Obsidiana collection, which also won the Kbis Sustainability Award in 2020, reinforce the idea that we have much to offer to the architecture sector.
Just as an architectural work becomes meaningful when it is inhabited or walked through, our showroom has been designed to be the origin of new ideas, of concrete solutions to challenges proposed by projects or future collaborations. Our greatest satisfaction is to see that this happens with every visit. I encourage all architects and designers who read us to get to know SALON COMPAC, because it is a space that has been created for them.
Arik Levy, José Ramón Tramoyeres, Rubén Fuentes Fuertes, Coffey Architects, Venture Experience, Arturo del Saz
Quartz COMPAC, Terrazzo COMPAC, Obsidiana COMPAC
Salon – The Matter Mastering Immersion Gallery