Let’s meet David Güell
- Who is David Güell as a professional?
The truth is that it would take me less to define Santiago than to describe myself. About myself, what I can say is that I am lucky that I like my work. That allows me to combine much dedication with little sacrifice. I get involved and excited about each new project, and I enjoy working as a team, especially when the team is a good one. I am concerned about safety, and I try to integrate it into the products from the conceptual phase. I want to sleep peacefully.
- And on a more personal level, how would you define yourself?
Persistent, optimistic, very far-sighted, methodical and with a sense of humour.
- What does engineering mean to you?
Engineering is about applying technology to create solutions. We don’t make discoveries, but we can invent new things. We are technicians, not scientists.
- Where does that passion come from?
My father owned a cabinetmaking workshop and was a creative and perfectionist person. He designed the product that he offered to his customers. He modified the machines that he had in the workshop to improve their performance and safety. I learned a lot from him.
- What other passions do you have?
Materially, I am passionate about cars, current ones and classics. Personally, family comes first and is followed by a small group of good friends.
- What is David Güell dreaming of?
I want some of the things that have come out of my head to serve as the basis for future solutions. That seed that I can contribute in one way or another to progress.
- Anything you are incredibly proud of?
I am proud to have arrived where I am by my own free will and on my own merits, without plugs or tricks—always playing clean.
About his profession
- Why did you decide to study engineering?
I’ve always been fascinated by mechanics. I had a clear vocation to design new products. It didn’t take me long to decide which career to choose. When I was still an engineering student, they released the movie “Apollo 13”, and I remember a scene where they gather the engineers in a room. They explain to them that they have square carbon dioxide filters on the ship, but they must mount them in a round housing. They put on the table all the elements available on the ship and ask them to send instructions to the astronauts to solve the problem. At that moment, I was thrilled to have chosen that career, and I thought, “I would love to have been there”. I wasted the next few minutes of the movie looking for the solution.
- Is it difficult to “get out” engineering?
In my case, I cannot say that it was easy for me, but any other university degree would have cost me more sacrifice. It was clear to me that industrial engineering was my thing. In my opinion, the difficulty of a career depends mainly on the skills of the student.
- Do you think that the training you received at the university was enough or when you finish your degree is it when you start to learn?
When they give you the university degree, whatever it is, you are the same as when they give you the driver’s license: happy but inexperienced. When you start working, you notice it stand in front of a failing machine. The mechanic asks you what you think is wrong. You see the difference between professional life and a theoretical problem, with its statement and its solution.
- What is the relationship between an engineer and an architect?
It depends on the people wearing those “labels”. We usually dedicate ourselves to different tasks in different environments; we do not have the same training or priorities. We are frankly other, and that is precisely what can make collaborating so interesting since it can produce tremendously innovative results.
Most of the architects we have worked with are creative people who are excited about their work. They want to distinguish their designs from what has already been seen, so they are open to new proposals. For me, working with them is exciting and very instructive. Hopefully, they get the same impression.
- Who comes to you to carry out a project: the architect, the end customer …?
Sometimes the client introduces us to his architect. Other times, the architect introduces us to his client. The important thing is that both agree.
A little more about Birkigt
- How, when, where and why was Birkigt born? 🙂
Starting at the end, we will talk about why. If we start from the need to earn a legal living, the best option is to work in something we like, motivate, and fulfil. For this reason, when the idea of creating this company came to us in 2009, we immediately got down to work.
The how is the most curious thing. A person who trusted us was building a high-quality home and asked us for a series of solutions that the builder told him could not be done because they were not on the market. We realised that this need existed, our ability to meet it, and how much fun these kinds of challenges were for us.
- And why that name? Is there a story behind it?
Marc Birkigt was an illustrious engineer whom we admire. He is not a well-known name nowadays. But at the time, he contributed to unite innovation and the luxury industry in Spain since he was co-founder and technical director of the mythical car factory “Hispano-Switzerland”.
- Birkigt defines itself as “haute couture engineering”. What exactly does this mean?
Our idea is to fill the gap in the construction sector between the standard product, which can be of excellent quality but is limited to the manufacturer’s catalogue, and the artisan product, which can be adapted to the taste and needs of the individual. Client but that, in general, suffers from a lack of technological level.
We offer a product with a high technological level, but totally “tailor-made”.
- How do you divide the work between you and Santiago?
The truth is that we are very on par in almost all tasks. We have a speciality of one or the other. But most of us share them equally, and in the most essential (creative work, decision-making), we work together. We are fortunate to agree very quickly. The work sessions that we define as “thinking in parallel” are beneficial. Finding a partner with Santiago’s capacity and working with him with such ease and comfort is not common, and I consider it a stroke of absolute luck.
- How is Birkigt different from other companies?
We do not have a catalogue. The customer can order anything that can be manufactured, can be paid for and is not dangerous.
- What role does technology play in your creations?
Technology is a tool that allows us to develop our work and make our ideas come true. Technology transfer from the industrial sector to the construction sector makes our products so reliable and innovative. On the other hand, we deliberately avoid overly elaborate and complex solutions. They end up being more expensive and less reliable. You have to spend much time thinking to find simple solutions (which once found obvious), but it is worth the effort.
- What about customisation?
At Birkigt, each product is unique and dedicated to meeting the needs of a particular customer. As I said before, we do not have a product catalogue. We only show the client some things that we have already projected to understand our possibilities, and we collaborate closely with him to define the project that will best satisfy him.
- What is the most original or “bizarre” thing you have ever done? (And that can be shared).
We worked on some “giant parasols” that were supposed to cover a huge patio in a hotel. They were to be deployed in inverted umbrellas and create a space sheltered from inclement weather. They could also be collected and were hidden inside the shafts that supported them.
In the end, the hotel project was changed due to urban problems.
And a little further
- You have just opened a delegation in Poland this year. Tell us a little more about that landing in the Polish country.
For the last ten years, for professional reasons, we have been visiting Poland regularly. Before the crisis, it was already a country that was gradually improving. Still, in the last two years, we have seen a clear economic improvement, so it was an attractive market. If we add to this, a competent person with the appropriate training (engineer and extensive experience in the construction sector) and total trust could be interested in being part of our team.
- What are your following projects?
We had precisely a couple of exciting projects in Poland to deliver in 2016. At the national level, we want to improve our presence in certain areas by increasing our dedication to these market areas.
- How would you define success?
On the one hand, one can speak of public success, which implies the recognition of others and is subject to fashions, social trends, and the influence of certain media.
On the other hand, personal, private success is what I would define as achieving what you set out to do. In this case, the important thing is to propose something that truly fills you. Suppose you are right in what you suggest. In that case, this private success is much more valuable than being on any magazine cover.