Q&A: Inspiring Women at DMA

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with five of our inspiring women at DMA to find out why and how they became architects and designers and what advice they can give to women considering joining the design professions.

 

Wan Yau - Dexter Moren AssociatesWan Yau, Director

What is your role at DMA?

As a director I have numerous management responsibilities from defining architectural and interior design standards for the practice to overseeing and supporting our staff. I find increasingly that I am practicing less and less architecture and spending more and more of my time running the business.

What attracted you to a career in architecture?

I studied architecture at The Bartlett in London. The course was wide ranging and challenging. We studied drawing, design, people, politics, philosophy, engineering, light, mapping and even anatomy. While working at a residential practice in London during my ‘year out’ I learnt about the building process; the transformation of a design into a physical manifestation; the variety and breadth of cross consultancies and designers, and the decision making that goes on in the process to create a building. I love architecture. I enjoy working with a team to design and construct a beautiful and useful building.

What advice would you give to women joining the profession?

Love architecture. Love design. Be inquisitive. Be assertive. Be competent and confident but don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and will find out. Find a mentor to champion you.

 

Lindsey Bean-Pearce - Dexter Moren AssociatesLindsey Bean-Pearce, Associate Director

What is your role at DMA? 

I co-run the interiors department. I’m responsible for all of the projects and the 15 designers within the team. No two days are the same. I might be doing anything from interacting with clients and working on pitches to checking progress on ongoing projects and researching new suppliers.  It’s incredibly varied and that’s what I love.

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?

I love working with the client and team to develop the brief, which then informs the concept design. As part of this process we research the site context and decide the most efficient spatial layout. The best part is that first 10 minutes after the project opens when our team can see what they have achieved. If your client walks round and says, “I really love it” that is an amazing feeling!

What advice would you give to women joining the profession?

Find a mentor, I was lucky enough to be mentored by two amazing women at my previous practice. Have conviction in your design, it is an expression of you and you must trust your instincts and abilities as a designer, even if others don’t.

Do not be scared of failure – it will make you stronger. Never stop learning – try to learn something new within your profession every day, research, ask colleagues, read books and articles, attend seminars and conferences.

 

Kate Sandle - Dexter Moren AssociateKate Sandle, Associate

What is your role at DMA?

I have worked at DMA for over 16 years and have been a qualified architect now for 20 years amazingly! I focus on the construction end of the profession, delivering complex hotel and mixed-use schemes through the production drawing stages to site delivery and finally completion.

What was your route into architecture?

I fell in to architecture after doing an Art Foundation Course and had little knowledge of what I was getting myself in to! An architectural education sets you up for many diverse design career options, and for me it was an inspiring time. I would recommend an education in architecture to anyone.

What advice would you give to women joining the profession?

Go for it! The construction industry is a career where you never stop learning and every day is different and challenging.

I am lucky to work in a practice where there are many women role models to look up to. I believe diversity in a design practice allows more versatile opportunities for women contemplating a career in architecture.

 

giada gemignani -Dexter Moren AssociatesGiada Gemignani, Senior Interior Designer

What is your role at DMA?

I’m a Senior Interior Designer with specialist experience in the hospitality sector. During my time at DMA I’ve been lucky to work across Europe for major international brands such as Starwood and InterContinental.  My recent focus has been on boutique and lifestyle schemes including Vintry & Mercer, one of the most anticipated London hotel openings of 2018, and Hotel Indigo Aldgate, a unique project inspired by the neighbourhood story of East London.

How did you become a designer?

I actually studied science and wanted to be a nuclear engineer but was lucky to be pointed in another direction combining my passion for art, architecture, fashion and branding with a methodical approach to delivery. After my studies I worked on interiors and branding projects in Italy before moving to Toronto to kick off my career in the hospitality sector. I relocated to London four years ago.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Design is my main passion but construction and delivery is equally fascinating. Seeing an abstract idea become a three-dimensional space is an incredible experience.

What advice would you give to women joining the profession?

When I was studying we weren’t presented with many female role models. Aspiring woman architects and designers should seek out their own heroes. The incredible futuristic and provocative vision of Lina Bo’ Bardi was a huge inspiration for me.

My suggestion to women joining the profession: approach it with passion and determination. These are the most efficient weapons against insecurity and the best tools to help you achieve career success.

 

Olga Polyanskayal - Dexter Moren AssociatesOlga Polyanskaya, Senior Interior Designer

Why did you choose to be a designer?
I was born into the family of a famous Soviet architect, Anatoly Polyansky, known in Europe for winning Le Grand Prix de Bruxelles Fair for the Soviet pavilion and designing embassies in Egypt, Greece and Sweden. From a very early age I was interested in sketching and painting. I love working on every aspect of a project from the initial concept to completion, dealing with everything from art selection to major design issues.

What are you working on at present?
I am lucky to be working on a number of exciting projects in Africa, an emerging market where DMA has a lot of experience.  I am also involved in pitching for new business in the UK and beyond.

What advice would you give to women joining the profession?

I’m not sure it is helpful to generalise because everyone must follow his or her own path. For anyone joining the profession – male or female – a mindset of continuous learning is key to success and fulfilment.

 

Join the International Women’s Day conversation on social media: #IWD2018