An Homage to an Alma Mater. - Concept Me

An Homage to an Alma Mater.

February 27th, 2022 / 5 min read

For as long as I can remember, spaces have had a great deal of influence on my mood. Certain colors and decorative elements could either make me happy or quite the opposite. I never found that strange. Instead, I recognized that I had a power that was all mine, untouched: the ability to imagine spaces and to narrate a story through them to suit my mood, even as a kid.

In a way, that power of the imagination and my fascination with designed spaces, items and cities, inspired that kid to constantly write Architect or Interior Designer on the dotted lines next to the ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’ question. I like looking back on those memories because in a way, they serve as a nostalgic déjà vu. Not much has changed - spaces still impact my mood and sensory details are still my preoccupation in how they should narrate a space’s layout, color scheme and furniture style.

I eventually grew up and got accepted to study either Interior Design or Architecture. I don’t think I spent too much time contemplating the options because I was visited by the concept that if one can design the larger scale ideas, one can definitely succeed at designing the smaller scale projects. I thought to my 18-year-old-self, ‘If I can design a city, I can design one hell of a living room.’ And so, I walked into the conceptual, welcoming and competitive arms of the École d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais in Paris.

Daniel Libeskind said, “To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history but to articulate it.”  This quote serves a very personal meaning to me because it represents the background against which I had the privilege to learn architecture. I have always been a believer in the idea that our nurtured experiences, our collective social experiences and the environments to which we are exposed to are indicators and direct contributors to the tastes and decisions we develop and take respectively. Being on the campus that I was on, surrounded by the people that I was surrounded by and learning how to activate and liberate my creativity in an unbound manner is a massive factor in where I am today.

At the École d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais, I (the daughter of more academic, scientific parents) had the kind of exposure that truly depicted the horizon-less breadth found in Architecture. At my Alma Mater, I learned that Architecture presented endless possibilities to what one can be. You could focus on being an academic, a critic, a technical architect all the way to focusing on being a furniture designer. This breadth of opportunities comes with the great advantage of meeting a wide variety of people who have different backgrounds, interests and passions. This myriad of personalities that I was in the middle of, played a big role in my passion for the collaborative nature of the field. It taught me that networking and team building are as essential to the design and construction process as the bricks and tiles are. Not only were my colleagues essentially interesting and diverse people, but my professors (who I am still in touch with) continue to inspire me and teach me things about the ever-growing field that is Architecture, my business. My all-nighters and conversations with those colorful people remain some of the best memories of my life.

Emotions aside, I appreciated my university for the exact way it approached Architecture. As a person whose mind functions in a vividly visual manner, I am capable of conceptualizing things rapidly and accurately. Hence, the name of my company…probably not my most inventive moment!

This conceptual ability of mine went well with the courses I took. I was able to really hone my talent and to, most importantly, expand my creativity. They did not merely teach us to cook the recipe, they taught us how to get creative with the ingredients. They instructed us in a way that opened vistas in the mind that I probably wouldn’t have known how to tap into by myself. In itself, that channeling of creativity was timelessly inspiring and continues to be so.

I have always believed that visuals, storytelling and communication are the bread and butter of Architecture. While I was a student within the walls of the École d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais and now, I still insist on telling a concept in the best way possible, to construct a metaphor and to make ideas a tangible, solid reality. One of my projects, was about an iceberg being shipped to Saudi Arabia in the aim of creating a utopian landscape.

P.S. That’s the project that got me my first job in KSA!

This liberty of imagination and this wildness in narrative has always been so exciting to me and remains one of my main drivers!

And finally, in this homage to the place where the real creative in me developed her talents, I also recall the competitive nature of the place bringing the hustle in me to the forefront. If you didn’t wake up at 4 AM on presentation day to stand in line for that one A0 printer, you wouldn’t have a printed project to present. For example, I hustled a trade with one of the students who had a laser printing machine (quite rare at the time). So, I did not have to wake up at dawn and I got my project cut sharper and more accurately than the rest! It really was a full-circle form of conceptual and street-smart education!

In short, I am really glad as to where that place got me. I am here now & going forward - keeping in mind that those were the most sleepless nights of my life, but also the most creative and memorable.

 

N.

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