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Frida Escobedo: ‘Architecture encompasses a wider range of possibilities and scales than art’

Frida Escobedo

Why did you become an architect?
It was almost by chance, I wanted to do something related to fine arts, but was not quite sure. I decided to give architecture a try because it seemed to encompass a wider range of possibilities and scales. The first day of school, I completely fell in love with it.

What kind of work do you do?
I have an architecture studio. We work on a wide range and scale of projects: social housing, residential buildings, public space, exhibition design and ephemeral installations, furniture, objects, and things that do not quite fall in the category of art, nor of architecture.

What is it like being an architect In Mexico?
Mexico City is a very intense, vibrant city. Although we are constantly struggling with crises, we have learned to create opportunities out of scarcity. This will to make things happen—the drive—has always inspired me. We constantly need to figure out how to do more with less. Mexico is a place where there is a lot that needs to be done, and most of it is urgent: from social housing to infrastructure. But I think that even if we are in constant crises, we have managed to create opportunities. Mexico is a great place for young designers and architects; I was able to start my own practice at a very early age.

Frida Escobedo’s summer pavilion in the V&A courtyard, 2015

Frida Escobedo’s summer pavilion in the V&A courtyard, 2015

Frida Escobedo’s summer pavilion in the V&A courtyard, 2015

What inspires you these days?
People who are passionate about their work inspire me. My friends inspire me too.

What is unique about your work?
I think everyone’s work is unique. But I like to make simple gestures that contradictorily generate complexity and open up possibilities.

How do you get ideas?
I guess we all get our ideas from what we are in touch with: the people we hang out with, the books we read, the places we visit, the city we live in. I try to stay as curious as possible.

What are your favourite design tools?
Sketch paper and pencil, I also enjoy working on models. What we also try to do with every project is a little book that synthetizes all the ideas behind the project.

Frida Escobedo’s Civic Stage at the 2013 Lisbon Trienale

Frida Escobedo’s Civic Stage at the 2013 Lisbon Trienale

Frida Escobedo’s Civic Stage at the 2013 Lisbon Trienale

What project are you most proud of and why?
That is a tough question, I guess it is like asking what child you love the most…

What would be your ideal project?
I would love to design my own house.

Where do you hope to go from here?
As a young practitioner, you struggle to find financial stability. I guess the challenge is to achieve that without getting too comfortable, or repeating yourself. Kersten Geers once told me that it was important to ‘stay slippery’, and Mauricio Rocha once told me ‘there is more time than you think, you need to be patient and do what you think is right’. I think those are the best two pieces of advice I have received, and I try to follow them.

What do you want to be remembered for?
The people I love the most have the ability to bring out the best of every person they touch. I would like to be able to do the same.

Winner of the AR Emerging Architecture awards 2016

La Tallera Siqueiros: a dramatic transformation of a former artist’s studio