A Meeting of Minds
Posted by Michel Cruz — January 7, 2010
Courtesy of: Reality Sense
José Ribes Bas, CEO of Rimontgó, and José Miguel Martínez Medina, his counterpart at Valencian design firm JMM MOBISA MARTINEZ MEDINA, enjoy the view of Valencia’s iconic architecture as they meet to discuss the true meaning and value of style, comfort, luxury and excellence.
Both men form part of a proud family tradition in their respective fields, and both have taken their long-established and respected firms to new heights. Fifty years ago Inmobiliaria Rimontgó was a small pioneer property agency in Javea. Today, as the company celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, José Ribes and his brothers run a renowned estate agency with a prominent position in the regional market and an international reputation.
His long-time friend José Miguel Martínez-Medina similarly took the family furniture business, founded in 1906, to a new level, adapting with the times while proudly maintaining the values imbued by previous generations. JMM now ranks among the leading Spanish brands in luxury bespoke office furniture, high desking and interior design solutions, with both design and manufacture harmonised within the company’s Valencia base and Madrid Headquarters.
As professionals catering to a luxury market they are directly involved in issues of style, quality and luxury – terms that form a central part of their daily professional vocabulary. But how do we exactly define these concepts – not to mention their pursuit? Is the desire for luxury and beauty a wasteful frivolity or does it drive excellence in all of us? On a practical level: Where do you draw the line between form and function, and at what point does opulence become vulgarity?
Are we right to pursue luxury?
JMM: A lot depends on how you define such all-encompassing terms. The most common association is above all with items – items in term defined by cost, quality, rarity, status and beauty, though the latter can be and very often is subject to both fashionable trends and personal taste.
JRB: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, while fashion and trends try to create manageable avenues that channel our desires in a particular direction, be it for clothes, cars or décor. But luxury is more than the sum of beautiful items alone; it all adds up to a certain lifestyle, and it is this idea of lifestyle that we associate with luxury in general.
Is luxury always associated with wealth?
JMM: In the sense that most people picture a privileged lifestyle filled in with luxury items it is mostly associated with wealth. But there are also other forms of luxury and privilege that are often neglected but not necessarily less valid. As you grow older you realise that time is one of the great luxuries in life. The pleasure of having time to yourself is especially appreciated by those who have achieved wealth and material luxury but often at the cost of personal time.
JRB: Yes, it may sound rather philosophical to say that, for some, luxury can be something as simple as spending time with your children or grandchildren, having the time to socialise with friends or indulging in a pastime like fishing, but they are often exactly the things people with money and success miss or cherish the most.
Should we therefore be pursuing less material dreams?
JMM: Of course, but that’s like saying that you should eat more sensibly, exercise and not waste your time and energy bickering or worrying unnecessarily. Most of us will arrive at these realisations at some point in our lives, yet the drive to improve ourselves is still primarily manifested through a desire to attain more wealth, comfort, status and the lifestyle and recognition that comes with it.
Is this somehow shallow?
JRB: Naturally there should be a balance, but on the whole these are essential human drivers that have been around since the earliest of times. We are social and therefore competitive creatures, so we wish to do well, reap the rewards and attain position within our society. You can take it to negative extremes, but on the whole it’s an instinct that serves mankind well because it is the force behind most of our innovation, creativity and the desire to want to improve things.
JMM: Without these impulses the world would be dreary. There would be no desire to achieve excellence, to surpass ourselves or to produce things of great beauty and art. In a totally utilitarian world there is no merit in dreaming, and without dreams we lose the ability to conceive and realise great ideas. The few social experiments in this direction are chilling examples.