The origins of Grup Idea: purpose and heritage

Every company, and every brand, has a unique life journey. It is born with a purpose, grows in size and prosperity, builds customer loyalty and grows its team. And over time, it generates a legacy that will be inherited by the new management.

As of this year, Lluís Saiz and Artur Ortiz, founders of Grup Idea, have become directors of the company. In this interview we talk to both of them about their new stage, after 30 years at the forefront of the business. The new management team is formed by Alejandro Mora, Rodolfo Pérez-Martos and Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro.

  • It all started when an architect and a technical architect met, worked together and wanted to join forces to offer implementation services to financial institutions, both banks and savings banks. Why did you decide to take this path together and start on your own?

(AO) Lluis and I met in an engineering firm working in a team that developed projects for a well-known financial institution. We complemented each other well, we began to share other projects and we decided to create our own office given the possibilities offered by the market.

(LS) It was a time of great expansion of banking agencies in our country. We thought that a firm that united the two disciplines could offer added value to the client.


  • Those were years in which architects found it difficult to have a business vision. You were ahead of the market.

(AO) We were clear from the start that we wanted a firm that offered comprehensive technical services and that was formed up of architects, technical architects and engineers. That’s why we created the professional company Idea Arquitectura i Enginyeria, and years later the brand Grup Idea was born.

(LS) This differentiation was key. Instead of working with external engineering firms, at Grup Idea we opted from the outset for an internal team of architecture and engineering professionals. We knew that this was a feature that clients would value highly and that few companies offered.


  • And how did the company evolve in the following years?

(AO) In October 1993 we started working in a small office on Aribau Street in Barcelona, which we expanded shortly afterwards with the adjoining premises. From that moment on, we did not stop growing with new clients, projects and teams. After an internal continuous improvement session with all our employees, we realized that we needed more space to be able to work better and so we decided to relocate.

(LS) In 2005 we moved to Plaça de l’Àngel, in the heart of Barcelona. We remodeled the building and designed our own offices according to our vision, mission, business values and needs. Over time, we became specialists in the design and implementation of banking and corporate offices. We went on to work for more than 25 financial institutions. Then we made the leap to retail when it was still a fairly unknown world for architects. At that time we grew with concepts, spaces and services such as: IdeaLab, IdeaLoft, IdeaCoworking or the IdeaPikaPika conferences.


“Instead of working with external engineering firms, at Grup Idea we opted from the outset for an internal team of architecture and engineering professionals. We knew that this was a feature that clients were going to value highly and that few companies offered” Lluís Saiz


  • At what point did you decide to take the leap and offer a 360º service from design to construction?

(LS) Many clients asked us for a turnkey service, so it was a natural evolution. The field of design began to be visible when Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro, partner and current Director of Design and Marketing, started working with us. It was at the same time that we started to offer construction services through our construction company, Abessis, and Juan Guaita, partner and current CEO of Abessis, joined the group from a new office we opened in Valencia, and that was the beginning of “Design & Build”.

(AO) We thus had the three phases that helped us to better explain our services: Imagine, Design and Build. We have our own method that we have been developing and improving over the years, as a result of working with and learning from the needs of our clients and adapting to them.


  • Grup Idea imagine, design and build corporate spaces, but also social and healthcare spaces, hotels and restaurants and retail premises. What has this diversification meant?

(AO) From the beginning, our expertise was in banking. We had to evolve at a business level to broaden the types of projects we did and we decided to broaden our needs and grow in other areas. We therefore specialised in what we then called Corporate Architecture. Thanks to this new approach we were able to overcome the crisis that hit the banking sector in 2008 and continue to grow. We are not “marketing gurus” but time has proved us right.

(LS) After this diversification, we naturally evolved towards internationalization. Working with retail clients expanded the geographical area in which we operated and helped us to become international, develop business muscle and be able to carry out and develop projects throughout Europe and Latin America.


  • Precisely how did you make the leap to working outside Spain?

(AO). Our internalization came about as a result of the 2008 crisis. We designed a Strategic Plan to expand our territorial scope of action to other countries and created subsidiaries in Mexico, France and the United Kingdom, bringing new professional partners into the company: Alejandro Mora, Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro and Rodolfo Pérez-Martos.

(LS) The step prior to competing abroad was to accompany national brands that wanted to make the leap abroad, so we grew with them. We also looked for foreign retail brands that wanted to come to Spain.

Nowadays we not only carry out projects in Spain but we also work in many other EU countries as well as in the UK and even in South Africa.

(AO) That’s why we are based in Barcelona and have subsidiaries in Valencia, London and Paris that allow us to be closer to our clients.


“From the beginning, our expertise was in banking. We had to evolve at a business level and minimize risks by growing in other sectors in which we could also offer our professional services” Artur Ortiz


  • How did COVID affect you?

(LS) The pandemic affected us like the rest of society, but we were lucky enough to be able to continue working because we were prepared. Now people are talking about teleworking, but before we were confined we had already made the digital transformation to be able to better combine work and personal life by working remotely. We called it “Home Office” and we had already integrated it into our day-to-day work on a recurring basis.

(AO) When the confinement ended, we decided to move to a new location and continue to evolve the way we work, thus maintaining the option of teleworking.

(LS) We have recently extended our new office in order to have a more suitable space for our team’s work meetings and also with clients, where we can hold internal training days, workshops or events.


  • You will soon be celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary. If we have to take stock of these years, what do you think our customers value most?

(LS) A client told me years ago that our greatest virtue was that we were always there when he needed us. Both for singular design projects and for projects in which we have to give an extra to solve problems and which require a lot of experience. We are always at the client’s side to listen to them. Active listening is one of our main virtues, to gain their trust.

(AOE) As Lluís says, trust. We are always there to help them with their projects and expansion plans, adapting to their needs. The new services that we have been creating always arise from specific needs on the part of clients who are looking for solutions.

“One client told me years ago: “Whenever we need you, we find you”. Both for singular and eye-catching projects and for projects in which we have to give an extra to solve a problem (…), we are always at the client’s side to listen to them”.


  • What legacy do you leave to the new management, what future do you wish for and imagine?

(AO) The new management has grown up with us. It has shared a large part of our history and carries our DNA. As you were saying, in 2026 Grup Idea will be 30 years old and I am convinced that this transition was necessary to ensure continuity and achieve new successes.

(LS) We have been working together for many years, side by side designing, building and offering the right services to each client. The legacy we left and still share is, above all, enthusiasm for projects, accumulated experience and a continuous desire to improve. It is not in vain that one of the phrases we like to repeat is that “Our best project is always the next one”.