We are back with another interview for our In The Spotlight series this month; we are talking to Felipe Hernandez, Project Manager at HAC Arquitectura.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in architecture.
Since I was young, I have wanted to study architecture. My passion started when I was six; my household and my dad's construction company had a lot of influence because the whole construction world always surrounded me, so it felt familiar.
Later, I decided to study architecture, and since my career began, I started feeling more passionate about home design. It tapped into the human aspect of life and how we, as architects, better understand how we can improve the quality of life by just designing spaces. This principle captivated me, and I started focusing on creating those warm and human spaces and calling them home.
I wanted to complement my passion by studying abroad to understand better how different people in different countries respond to the needs of human quality, so I studied in Australia and Barcelona.
Later on, I came back from Australia, and I sent a job application to HAC. They focused on residential houses at the time, so it perfectly fits why I wanted it. Luckily, they accepted me, and I started as a part-time intern as a design assistant. Within five years and a Master's Degree in project management, I started having more responsibilities until I became the project manager in the design department.
What has HAC Arquitectura meant to you professionally?
For me, HAC means a lot, more than a job. It has represented a family, a place where I can share my passions, where I can share my ideas and where we can discuss, improve and grow with people that feel exactly like me. HAC has challenged me and pushed me to become a better architect and human being. That's what I like about HAC. It's a company built on modern human principles and values, something that shines through both towards our clients and the team itself.
Being the project manager, you have already had the opportunity to attend directly to several clients, listen to their ideas, and design for them. What has been your greatest challenge in working with them, and what has been your greatest lesson?
I have had many challenges with clients, but the most significant is when clients need to communicate and translate their ideas but do not know how. When I start proposing designs, I cannot reach what they want because they are not entirely sure about what they want.
My greatest lesson has been listening more about what the client wants, taking out my designer's ego, and respecting what the client likes and doesn't like—understanding that we are a vessel for the clients' ideas to become a reality. There is a fine line between giving clients ideas and forcing them into their lifestyles. We should never cross this line of respect about how a person lives within a space.
You started assisting in designing houses in Guadalajara, and now you work designing homes in Los Cabos. What are the significant differences in designing houses in the two cities, and what are the main physical and spatial characteristics that differentiate them?
The two cities are very different from each other. Of course, there's the commonality that they are in Mexico, so they share certain regional aspects, materials, and influences. Still, one is a megalopolis in a tropical rainforest, and the other is a small city in Golfo de Cortes with a desert and a calm and relaxed environment. So, you do have to consider this and start designing, taking these geographical, climate, visual, and surroundings aspects into the design of the homes. For example, in Guadalajara is very common to have a two-story or three-story house, and in Cabo, because of the visuals, you need to have a one-story home with immense heights. In Guadalajara, the design of the house is more contemporary; it's more common to have a house look-alike from another big city. In Cabo, the style is more regional, with a lot of California influence, and the design it's more light and relaxed.
What recommendations would you make to someone who is about to start designing their home?
My recommendation for someone starting a house is to be truthful and conscious about what feeling they want to have and portray in each space. It doesn't matter the budget. It doesn't matter the size. You can always make a space feel how you want it to feel. You must be honest with yourself and your needs and try to communicate them as clearly as possible to your architect.
Surround yourself with tools like pictures of hotels, restaurants, stores, and places that you have been to or that you have liked. It doesn't matter why you like them, but each photo and each space made you feel a certain way that you want to repeat in your home, so be very transparent about it, and we will consider everything, and we will translate that feeling into a space.