ALEJANDRA BUSTILLOS| Mexican Architect Transforming Spaces with Factor Neutral
By Lilia Davis
Alejandra Bustillos is an Architect from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, graduated from the University of Monterrey (UDEM) and founded Factor Neutral, after having worked successfully in large projects in Mexico City.
Factor Neutral is a workshop that specializes in design, architecture and residential and commercial interiors at large and small scales with warm a artchitecture that acts as a protagonist. Today it has projects in Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Morelos and Coahuila, among others. Our conversation stretched over several months.
In these conversatons, Architect Alejandra Bustillos talked about what inspired her to pursue a career in architecture, her creative process and also spoke about a new home office concept and why she always opts for a neutral factor.
«No goal is impossible to accomplish, and architecture is one of the best careers for tapping the creative potential of anyone who sets his or her mind to it.»
HELLO ALEJANDRA, WELCOME TO LA REVISTA MUJER AND THANKS FOR SPEAKING WITH US, FIRST OF ALL I WANTED TO ASK YOU WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO STUDY ARCHITECTURE?
Thank you very much for the invitation, I am happy to share my thoughts and ideas with you.
Since I was very young my parents noticed my interest in creative activities, and when they did they did not miss the opportunity to enroll me in classes of all kinds from painting, ceramics, craft classes, I even remember well that they enrolled me in a drawing class at a university when I was 10 years old.
When I was a little older, when it was time to choose a career, I wanted it to be a profession that would make a radical change in a person’s way of life, or the way they live.
… «To this day I faithfully believe that architecture is an art of doing it, architecture and interior spaces have the power to transform emotions and change the mood of the user in their day to day life.»
WHY THE NAME NEUTRAL FACTOR?
For me interior design means transforming a space from a -master plan- or -project- in which each object selected within the project works or interacts with each other in a well thought out and designed from the beginning, achieving as a response homogenize or neutralize the environment under the same language.
The origin of Factor Neutral is born under this description of my greatest passion in the world, which is the art of transforming spaces – interior design.
WHO IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
For me each client is a challenge, each client is always different from the other, and I love to read their needs to transform their space to their liking.
Our clients are very special to us, they trust a lot in our criteria to solve the design, but in general we love the clients who open themselves blindly to the proposals we make, because at the end of the process we come out with the most daring, interesting and full of energy proposals, leaving us free to do what we like the most – design.
The presentation of the project is one of my favorite parts of the process, and involving the client is essential for the final result, that’s why I like to show physical samples of the proposed finishes such as wood, textiles, covers… it’s always easier to have a complete picture of the project.
WORKING REMOTELY FROM HOME
WITH THE RADICAL TRANSITION OF WORKING IN THE OFFICE FROM HOME, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU WOULD ASK ME, IF I WANTED TO HIRE YOU TO DESIGN MY HOME OFFICE?
The home office is definitely here to stay, and in the wake of the pandemic there is an opportunity to reflect – to look at our homes and ask ourselves:
How are we living? Does this place inspire me? Does this place feel good? How do I feel being in this space?
And well, also to propose ourselves to have it nice, and not only to decorate it or improve it aesthetically, but also to organize everything that we leave for later, to clean and keep only the essentials, to integrate plants inside the house, to give life to our spaces in general.
The enclosure was and still is for many a radical change in families, thinking that each dynamic made transform spaces from living room to office, from bedroom to recreational space for children, from tv room to gym, and when we think about these changes in the use of spaces.
ARCHITECT PATRICIA URQUIOLA IN AN INTERVIEW SAID: «I BELIEVE THAT TIME IS A CONSTRAINT TO DESTROY AND THEN REINVENT. IF THEY GIVE ME A RESTRICTION, I ACCEPT IT. BUT I ALWAYS TRY TO DISPLACE IT OR READAPT IT.» DOES THAT RELATE TO YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
We have to have an alternative of flexibility in them applied in furniture, in colors, in lighting, I think it is a whole subject to deepen in terms of interior design issues but with some simple and timely changes could make all the difference and improve a space.
In the end we have to understand that «our home is a reflection of our person.» If we have an organized space, well lit, decorated with a style that we love, with colors that convey peace, we will feel welcome, attracted and welcomed to our home.
The birth of each project always begins with an emphasis on its context and the client’s needs.
«I always like to think of two scenarios for spaces, one with direct lighting and one with indirect lighting-so we have two different environments to carry out different activities.»
THE SAME LANGUAGE
FOR EXAMPLE, DO YOU START WITH THE SPACE WHERE YOUR DESIGNS WILL BE USED, OR DO YOU START DESIGNING THE IDEAL SPACE TO INTRODUCE YOUR DESIGNS?
For us when designing it is always important to go from general to specific in any process, if the project includes architecture and interiors, first we design the distribution, then the shell of the house with its finishes and after that we design the interiors -all around the same language- so that the result is the most accurate to what the client is looking for, and after that we start transforming the interiors.
Of course, in the process there are many concepts that go hand in hand, such as wall hangings, tapestries, ceilings, and they are designed according to the next step (interior design) but it is the father of the profession, that in the end you give the client a complete solution of a space from the beginning as the distribution to the smallest detail such as accessories.
HAVE YOU HAD TO FACE ANY OBSTACLES BEING A WOMAN IN A TRADITIONALLYY MALE-DOMINATED PROFESSION?
I have always been passionate about architecture, and despite the prejudices that said that I could not be imagined with a helmet and boots and on site, it was never a reason that discouraged me from continuing, I know that in this field there are many men that predominate the profession.
However, with the passage of time women have taken their place in architecture, it is important to note that today there are already architect women who have won the Pritzker Prize as Zaha Hadid, Kazuyo Sejima, Carmen Pigem, among others – all very admirable women – and I believe that in the future more and more women will enter this field, in the end the world is changing and modernizing these perceptions over time.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MATERIALS FOR USE IN DESIGNING YOUR FURNITURE?
Something that characterizes us a lot as a firm is our multiple applications in the designs of the furniture we make, from natural woven fibers, marble, leather, linen, to imported prefabricated veneers. We apply them directly to doors, or to furniture bottoms, to drawers – anything we can think of!
In the world of interior design there are so many possibilities of materials, textures and ways of applying them that when you do it in a different, original and unique way you can really elevate the look of a space.
ARCHITECTURE AND WOMEN
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO A WOMAN WHO IS THINKING OF STUDYING TO BE AN ARCHITECT?
Believe and live your passion, and persevere in any dream you set your mind to.
No goal is impossible to achieve, and architecture is one of the best careers to exploit the creative potential of anyone who sets their mind to it.
DO YOU THINK WOMEN ARE MORE RECEPTIVE TO HIRING A FEMALE ARCHITECT?
I am a supporter of gender equality in all senses, for me women have the same power as men in any profession.
Personally for my team it is important to evaluate each candidate for their achievements, for their qualities and values, regardless of this, if that candidate is a woman and has some added value, so much the better!
FACTOR NEUTRAL integrates green in its interior design.
Pictured above is an example of multiple applications of texture in design. Warmth in walnut wood, contrast with dark oak, and an explosion of design against a polished orobic slab on the wall. And never forget the touch of green.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE FUTURE
HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE FUTURE?
I believe that the future trend in architecture goes hand in hand with a more human architecture, where the functional comes before technology, where green and ecological aspects are integrated much more, both in residential and urban projects.
An architecture where the line between common areas, or sidewalks or sidewalks with traffic avenues are increasingly blurred, we are at an important point where we must value the existing world and stop massifying the buildings as we have done.
«I faithfully believe that through architecture and interior design we can have a direct impact on the quality and way of life of a person, and that is what I like the most and what motivates me to do my job day by day!»
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