Ileana Schinder is a woman of many talents and the author of ‘Housing for Humans: A Book to Imagine, Create and Design a New Housing Model in America’, published by Panoma Press. In this interview, she discusses her work and how she became successful in the creative industries.
Hello Ileana, thank you for accepting our interview invitation. How did you start working in the industry? Who is your biggest inspiration? What has been the most rewarding part of working in the architecture industry?
I graduated from Universidad Nacional de Cordoba in Argentina, where I am from. Right after moving to the US, I started working in large firms that did large scale projects, mainly educational and technology. In 2014, I opened my own residential firm in Washington DC.
My biggest inspiration is everyday people, how they use and enjoy spaces that they can design and furnish themselves. Yes, as an architect I can guide and assist in making the space better but I really enjoy seeing how historical homes evolve throughout generations.
The most rewarding experience? The joy of hearing how clients and their families improve my designs every day. The designs are great but when I see a little kid actually going around that kitchen full speed on a tricycle, that’s a good space right there, full of life.
What is your favorite project that you have worked on?
I don’t have a favorite per se, I have a favorite type of project. I really enjoy those spaces that come from a complicated past, and we clean them up, open to natural light, create a good flow and people can enjoy the space. The joy doesn’t have to do with size only but how everything works together: light and flow so life can happen and evolve with the family needs.
Can you tell us more about your book “Housing for Humans: A Book to Imagine, Create and Design a New Housing Model in America”?
It’s a book about making housing possible to more people that need different things from their home. The book demystifies what the house “should” be: free standing, large lot, garage and it shows how the house “can” be: accessible, affordable, collaborative. The idea of home and family has changed significantly in the past 50 years, the book describes how additional dwelling units are the new normal.
Do you think there’s a standard for what constitutes good interior design?
I don’t think there is a standard, only that it has to work. As in, different people make space work differently but a key element is natural light and space flow. No matter what and how you do it, you have to have good light and the space has to flow. Everything else can change and evolve.
Are there any trends in architecture that you are excited about?
It’s hard to call it a “trend” because it’s here to stay. Architecture is becoming more inclusive, from designers to clients, from physical ability to affordability. As shapers of the built environment, architects have realized that we can’t just shape the environment of the elites, we must design for everyone and everywhere, for those in need and those in luxury. Also, we cannot ignore the environment, the idea of contributors as a sustainable future cannot be taken lightly. This is not a temporary trend, but it’s part of the air we breathe and we can leave it out of our design process.
You have a lot of experience under your belt. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out in the home improvement industry?
Look, listen and learn. Look at the space you are in: your city, the homes, the residents. Listen to those that came before you, you will hear their joy and their pain, their lessons and their errors. Learn from everyone and everything, yes… architects CAN teach you but also masons, contractors, interior designers, clients and those that came before you. The lessons are there just waiting to be seen.
Thank you for your time, Ileana. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you today. We know our readers will find your insights into the creative industries very helpful. We hope to have you back on our site soon!