When it comes to design, Alexandra has done it all, and in more countries than most. Her sense of design has been shaped by her childhood, and growing up in five different countries, From Dubai to Seattle. Now based in Los Angeles, Alexandra is focused on using interior design, architecture and branding to inspire.
SS: Tell us what you do and why you do it.
AC: I’m an interior/architectural designer and I do it because it I love the challenge of creating a memorable experience for someone.
SS: How did you get started in the design industry?
AC: It runs in my blood. My Grandfather was an architect and owned his own firm in the Philippines, and my Dad is an architect and owns his own firm as well, so I’ve been exposed to design my entire life. I remember hanging out in his office when I was little and drawing buildings for hours on trace paper. I loved it.
SS: You focus on architecture, interior design and branding, three very different facets of design. How do you see them overlapping?
AC: To me they’re all really connected. If it was a burger Architecture would be the bun, Interior Design would be the meat and Branding would be the lettuce, tomatoes and special sauce. I don’t know why I just made that analogy, I’m vegetarian, haha. But the point is, the sum is greater than the parts. I think about all of them together and don’t just see a building, a space or a product, but the story around it. Everything comes down to the concept and story no matter what facet of design you’re working in.
SS: You've lived and worked in a ton of different cities - from Dubai to Seattle. Can you tell us about your travels and what brought you to these different places?
AC: We moved around a lot when I was a growing up for so many reasons, but mostly my Dad’s work in the Middle East and Asia. We lived in Singapore, Seattle, Manila, Brisbane and Dubai. Then I went back to Seattle and now I’m in LA! I’m very fortunate I got to travel the world from a young age, and that my parents made it a priority for us to experience many different cities and cultures. You learn so much more than you ever could in school.
SS: How do the design communities or creative industries differ in these cities?
AC: I could talk about this for days but I’ll keep it to three cities – Dubai, Seattle and LA.
Dubai is generally a misunderstood city. When you go there to visit you see the big flashy things first while everything else is hidden under the surface. In terms of design, you would see Dubai Design District or Art Dubai, these huge things created to pull tourists and place Dubai as an industry leader in the region. However, what you wouldn’t notice are all the small galleries speckled through the warehouse district, or the local architecture firm striving to thoughtfully blend tradition and modernism instead of building the next tallest skyscraper, or the fashion designer making activewear more accessible for Muslim women. The fact that it’s a truly global city makes the creative community there extremely interesting and multi-faceted.
Compared to Dubai, Seattle is very grassroots. In my experience, if you’re an architect you probably also ride a bike and go mountain climbing (unfortunately that wasn’t me, haha). The great thing about the design community in Seattle is that it’s extremely socially and environmentally conscious. The landscape and nature of the Pacific Northwest is a huge influence, and informs everything from building materials to furniture to graphic design. It’s a small community but very cutting edge, innovative and original.
Honestly, LA has been the most influential city for me out of the three. There are so many different creative communities here that overlap, resulting in inspiring, unique projects. With the film industry, a thriving art scene, incredible works of architecture and so much more, I find inspiration around every corner. The design sensibility is playful and expressive, which makes it easy to experiment and think out of the box.
SS: Name three things that get your creative juices flowing.
AC: Traveling, Cool buildings, People’s stories
SS: The theme of this issue is "victory." Name a moment in your life when you felt victorious.
AC: March 31st marked one year since I moved to LA. It’s been one of the most challenging and crazy years of my life so it feels pretty victorious to look back at where I was when I got here and where I am now.
SS: What's the best piece of advice you've ever given someone.
AC: Something I’ve learned over the past few years is that you have to do the hard work to figure out who you really are and what you value in life. The more you get to know yourself and make decisions from an authentic place, the more life will unfold the way its supposed to for you.
SS: If you could switch lives with someone for a week, who would it be and why?
AC: Probably Pamela Shamshiri of Commune Design and Studio Shamshiri. Why? Because she’s a badass.
SS: What's next for you? Any projects we should be on the lookout for?
AC: I work at Manola Studio, an interior design firm in East Hollywood. We’re currently doing a hotel project with Shelter Social Club called The El Rey that opens late summer in Twentynine Palms. It’s going to be so dreamy and romantic, I promise you’ll never want to leave!