In the early days, Empty’s principal business activity was that of general contractor, and we still perform general contracting jobs today. However, in view of our commitment to quality and client satisfaction, we have designed different contracting options, seeking tailor-made solutions for every situation. Empty frequently takes on turnkey projects that include some or all of the services we provide, thanks to the knowledge and experience acquired during years of striving to meet our clients’ demands and overcome the challenges posed by the projects themselves.
Construction management is the overall planning, coordinating and control of a project from beginning to end. As a construction manager, Empty has the capacity to handle the time, cost and quality management aspects of a project. These responsibilities usually include the following: specifying objectives, which includes defining the scope of the project and the operational structure; maximising resource efficiency by hiring workers, materials and equipment; implementing procedures to facilitate the coordination and control of processes; and developing effective conflict resolution mechanisms and communications.
Design is a complex task. It is the integration of technical, social and economic requirements, biological needs, and aesthetic, symbolic and psychological considerations to achieve a perfect balance between form and function. It may also involve several related tasks and disciplines. Working directly with our team and indirectly with external partners, Empty translates design solutions into a clear and easily understandable language, organising the creative process to factor in all necessary variables without putting limitations on inspiration and innovation. We transform ideas into viable solutions that meet the specific objectives of each project.
Empty’s regular involvement in one-off projects means that we must constantly analyse and consider all proposed solutions. After studying each idea, we must empirically test the solutions to evaluate their suitability. Making prototypes prior to the final production of displays or architectural elements is all in a day’s work for Empty because it allows us to verify or adjust ergonomic aspects and technical or design solutions, providing valuable information for making decisions about the project. The ability to quickly produce and evaluate prototypes has been a hallmark of Empty’s working method since the company was first founded.
Exhibition Content Creation and Management
A good exhibition narrative and content outline is the first and most important step in designing a good exhibition. Empty’s content management team is equipped to source, select and coordinate experts on different scientific and humanistic content as well as exhibition advisers/curators, helping the designers understand the message these experts want to convey and translate it into exhibition language. Our content managers handle everything, from writing, correcting and translating texts to researching and obtaining illustrations and images, including all necessary copyright permissions, as well as designing all kinds of interpretive aids. Drawing on years of experience in cultural content management, our experts analyse the specific needs of each project and enlist the aid of an extensive list of outsourced partners (which is constantly growing and changing), giving them the ability to successfully materialise all kinds of exhibition narratives with professional rigour and creativity.
Creation and Production of Audiovisual and Interactive Content
At Empty we adopt a holistic approach to AV production that combines technical know-how, management skills and audiovisual creativity and makes the most of our financial, technical and human resources at every stage in the process of designing and producing audiovisuals, while ensuring that they are aligned with the general objectives of the exhibition design. Meanwhile, Empty’s collaboration with independent teams of professionals offers us cutting-edge technological solutions to creative challenges. Motion graphics and data visualisation specialists, multimedia developers, graphic artists and robotics experts have worked and continue to work with us regularly on educational and entertaining interactives that seek to engage the public more actively with exhibitions.
Over and above its strictly functional mission, light creates the conditions in which we contemplate things: it has the power to communicate and stir emotions, to transcend the physical plane. First and foremost, the permanent lighting system in an exhibition venue must be based on the principles of versatility and suitability. After studying the artworks or objects to be displayed, we need to design lighting that communicates their physicality and symbolic connotations in the most effective way possible. Ambient lighting is an essential aspect of the exhibition design, but we also have to consider the individual illumination that makes each displayed item stand out.
Scale models in exhibitions or museums must be able to convey rigorous scientific information, but equally they should be an efficient communication tool whose appearance is in keeping with the museum and other elements around it. Model production is a complicated task that involves a wide range of technical aspects: the selection of stable materials, digital 3D models, CNC milling machines, prototyping systems, laser and chemical cutting and etching technology, metal casting processes, specific adhesives for each type of material, paints and surface treatments, etc. Empty has the best model-making workshops at its disposal which work to the highest standards of quality in both manufacture and design.
For scenographic elements to be included in exhibition projects, the design and technical aspects must serve the scientific discourse. This requires highly skilled teams who can accurately capture and convey the information supplied by the palaeontologists, anthropologists, naturalists, landscapers, archaeologists or historians involved in designing the contents. The quality of a scenographic element is not just a question of creating something believable or realistic; it must also be built to stand the test of time and be able to coexist with pieces that require climate-controlled environments, so the choice of materials is also a key consideration. Given the complexity of scenographic elements, at Empty we assign specific teams and resources to these kinds of jobs.
Robotics and Animatronics
Certain projects have led us to become familiar with the world of animatronics. Animatronic creations with robotic mechanisms are generally designed for film productions or theme parks, although lately they have begun to appear in museums and temporary exhibitions. Electronic, pneumatic or hydraulic systems and motion control software are the basic technologies needed to create these robots. But this technology requires exhaustive preliminary research to determine the right proportions, movements and finishes, and the teams that make these “creatures” must therefore be evenly divided among people with extensive technical knowledge and people with artistic talent.
Corporate identity design, web design, editorial design, type design, posters, signage and multimedia design are just some of the tasks handled by a specialised team on Empty’s staff, although on many occasions we have worked with independent professionals and teams whose experience in museography and visual communication always provides something new. Graphics are largely what defines the image and perception of an exhibition project, and as they are so closely bound up with the content, this is one aspect that Empty never “delegates” and always supervises very closely.
The quality of a project is appreciated in the details: illustrations, infographics, maps and diagrams shape the perception of quality in how content is conveyed or how the mood is set in an exhibition space. In addition to the chosen language of expression, scientific accuracy is of paramount importance when preparing illustrations. The contents of these artistic and scientific creations are always managed by the Empty team, which coordinates the creative process by acting as a liaison between the artists and those who provide the raw data, and by organising the process of review and correction to achieve an excellent end result. Empty has an extensive list of external partners in this field, allowing us to produce illustrations that not only convey all the necessary information but also boast an exquisite aesthetic quality.
Display structures and cases are the principal elements that make up an exhibition. They must conform to the general exhibition design, but they often require special attention and can even become independent projects. The best place to start is with a list of specific needs. Making a display case involves choosing the right profiles and edges, glass with certain characteristics, conservation systems, climate control, lighting and security measures. It has to be secure and stable while allowing the objects inside to be viewed properly. Empty has the special expertise and knowledge needed to produce custom cases and other display elements for each project, making our company a valuable ally when it comes to developing and producing these items.
Handling and Mounting Exhibits
Careful handling and a visually pleasing arrangement of the exhibits in elegant and functional display structures is often the key to a successful exhibition installation. The Empty exhibits team is made up of experts in a variety of complementary fields: architects, restorers, fine arts graduates and industrial designers. Each member enriches the team with his or her specialised knowledge, and all of them have extensive experience in mounting many different kinds of collections. In addition to using materials that are highly stable, durable, chemically neutral and safe for the exhibits but also flexible and adaptable, the Empty team provides impeccable finishes. It also has all the auxiliary resources needed to handle the exhibits properly and without compromising their safety.
The term installation art is used to describe site-specific works: the space lends the work part of its meaning, and vice versa; the medium itself becomes part of the composition. Whenever projects have inspired us to include installation art, or clients have specifically requested its inclusion, we have produced and/or mounted these works to illustrate specific aspects of the content of a particular museum or cultural project, or in other contexts to communicate an institution’s visual identity.
Refurbishment and Restoration
Many of the projects that Empty has undertaken over the years have included the refurbishment of entire buildings or parts of them with heritage value, such as facades, staircases, stained glass windows, etc. Achieving maximum fidelity to forms, materials, textures, techniques and finishes is a key aspect of projects concerned with the restoration of elements from the past. Just as important is the collaboration with highly skilled technicians, able to diagnose and correct pathologies caused by the passage of time, and artisans who have preserved and practise certain traditional crafts. In the specific context of museums, Empty also undertakes tasks related to the conservation and restoration of artworks and archaeological artefacts, supported whenever necessary by institutions and laboratories that specialise in the conservation of these assets.
Furniture is an essential aspect of the unique projects addressed by Empty, and we can carry out all or part of the design, production and installation phases involved in the process. The procedure we use is always the same: an in-depth needs analysis; identification of materials and technical solutions; selection of suppliers and workshops; preparation of detailed production plans; construction of samples and prototypes to check the viability of the proposed solutions; supervision of the production process at workshops; management of the transport logistics; installation and assembly of the furniture in situ; and training of the staff responsible for its maintenance.