Interview with María Ruiz, founder of Atelier Mel
Interview with María Ruiz, founder of Atelier Mel

Young, skilful and determined, architect María Ruiz is the founder and director of Atelier Mel, a multidisciplinary team of designers who collaborate with other professionals to shape and materialise complex artistic concepts. Combining engineering and craftsmanship, this studio specialised in parametric design makes unique pieces to order and using modular systems that can be found in hotels, corporate headquarters and shopping centres. Atelier Mel is the creator of the monumental guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid.

Atelier Mel developed the sculptural piece shaped like a guitar located in the courtyard of the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid. How did the commission come about and what is the idea behind the project?

The hotel’s design concept is based on the Movida Madrileña, a cultural movement which had music as its main theme. From there, our friends and collaborators from Rockwell thought of us to create an iconic and symbolic piece that would be suspended in the lobby of the hotel’s interior patio: a large sculpture in the shape of a guitar reflecting the identity and brand of Hard Rock, which would also convey the spirit of the Movida Madrileña.

How is the shape of the guitar defined and in what way is it distributed within and related to the space?

We wanted to represent the guitar in an extremely subtle, synthetic way that wouldn’t be too literal. Drawing inspiration from the work of Jaume Plensa, Felice Varini and Rafael Soto, we devised a set of perspectives that allow you to read and interpret the sculpture based on where you are in the space. From the reception desk, the sculpture juts out and invites you to discover the interior of the lobby. Standing in front of it, you can clearly recognise a silhouette of a guitar that breaks and decomposes as you walk through the place. It’s an omnipresent and recognisable work that you can contemplate from all angles, including your room or the roof top bar.

Light is an important part of the project. At the installation level, how is light integrated into its organic geometry?

Yes, the lighting aspect took on an important role in the project. To adapt the light to its geometry, Lluria suggested installing a linear LED system that was flexible and at the same time had the ability to emit light in all directions. After playing with several options, we opted for the Cougar LED strip (CO12-30-3L), a fantastic solution that allows observers to appreciate the sculpture in detail and illuminate the space in all its dimensions.

How did the idea of making the piece dance and move to the rhythm of the music come about?

Unlike other hotels, Hard Rock Madrid has a playful component clearly linked to music. This made us reflect on what kind of relationship could be established between the guest and the work, hence this dynamic link. The strings of the guitar neck are made up of LX14.4-27-55-A digital LED strips that dance and vibrate thanks to a programme that modulates the rhythm and cadence depending on the time of day.

We imagine assembling the installation wasn’t at all easy.

From the beginning, we were able to keep in direct contact with the client. The main conclusion we reached was that we should design a piece for a hotel open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To avoid interrupting the lobby activities, we decided to place all the drivers and electronic components that weren’t part of the sculpture in an installation room located on the roof of the building. This idea, in addition to making future maintenance and programming work easier, allowed us to remove any element that would be likely to distort the design of the artistic piece.

The result is fantastic. How would you rate the experience of working with Lluria?

We’re very happy we came across Lluria. From beginning to end, there was a constant, enriching dialogue. Their readiness and predisposition helped make sure that everything we wanted to convey could be brought to reality through lighting. So much so, that we currently have several collaborative projects underway.