"My design philosophy is To think outside the box, But use the damn box in The design."
Today, the challenges of many architects and designers alike are to meet a client’s vision and to do so in a resourceful, creative, and human-centric way. And in this challenging environment, the young freelance architect and creative designer Megan Camara has found her footing through collaborative, practical and inspired designs.
With a portfolio brimming with original designs spanning architecture, interior design, set design and many others, Megan doesn’t hesitate to share that she takes inspiration from many disciplines, other artists and even social media. We asked her to tell us more about her design process, favorite project, and her take on Philippine architecture.
I’m an architect by profession, and a designer by passion. In the most fundamental sense, I’m obsessed with spaces, forms, objects and how they can be integrated with each other efficiently and beautifully. I’m also a big believer of multidisciplinary design, so I try to explore other disciplines of the arts and how they can be applied to architecture.
What’s it like to be a freelance architect?
Being a freelance architect lets me practice being a multidisciplinary designer. It allows me to dabble in other stuff, like graphic design, fashion, furniture design, etc. This work lifestyle allows me to explore other artistic endeavors, and how I can ultimately use them in my architectural designs. It’s been so much fun for me so far. I get to work at my own time, place and pace. But being able to handle your own time can be challenging too because, I’m not gonna lie, I’m not the most efficient in time management. However, I try to make up for it by optimizing everything I can control. I already love planning anyway, so I make sure to leverage that whenever I need to optimize my process. I consider it sort of like one of my superpowers, along with my sense of urgency and my resourcefulness.
"For me, architecture is firstly finding solutions for your client, and then aesthetics. Form follows function after all."
What is your favorite thing about being an architect? Can you tell us why?
My favorite thing about being an architect is the problem-solving. Not with the numbers but with shapes and spaces. For me, architecture is firstly finding solutions for your client, and then aesthetics. Form follows function after all.
In the end, my fulfillment lies in knowing that I can impact people’s lives by helping them improve their way of living. And when they tell me how much they love my work! 🙂
What can you tell us about architecture in the Philippines?
In my opinion, most architecture here is laidback. It’s a reflection of our warm personality and lifestyle, with our Filipino time and siesta, or being able to smile through adversity because we are all matiyaga. Just look at the most basic Filipino dwelling—the open-plan bahay kubo. It’s the architectural icon that I think best describes the Filipino culture and personality.
What is your favorite architectural style? Can you share with us why?
I don’t really have a specific favorite style. But I’ve always been fascinated with classical buildings. Mostly because of the history and character that comes with it, and also because it’s really hard to pull off the classical style nowadays.
So far, what has been the project you’ve enjoyed working on the most? Why?
I recently worked on a furniture showroom. It’s definitely one for the books because it had a tight budget so, I had to be creative. I proposed to my client an experiment where the ceiling would be made out of those cheap, common plywood in bare finish. It ended up looking more elegant than I expected.
I really enjoyed working on this because the client gave me some freedom with the design. I believe that good design comes not only from a good designer, but good clients as well.
Can you describe your creative process as an architect?
Research! I’m a big research nerd. So, I never start a project without doing proper research—getting to know the client, their wants, needs, their budget, the site, the concept, style, pegs, materials, solutions, strategies, everything I can gather! And then I create a Pinterest board that I share with the client where we pin just about anything that could be incorporated to the the project. This Pinterest board is crucial to the whole process because it’s where we could communicate visually. It’s like a shared space where the visual language can be understood by the both of us to create a more holistic concept. From all the things I’ve gathered, I then come up with a design to propose to the client.
I actually prefer clients that already have a budget in mind, no matter how big or small. I like to think that I thrive in tight-budget projects because it allows me to be resourceful and more creative in finding solutions. Hence, my design philosophy is to think outside the box, but use the damn box in the design. I’m a big thrift shopper myself, always looking for unusual places for sourcing of materials and furniture.
What are your tips in getting inspiration and staying inspired?
I’m always on Instagram and Pinterest. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, while having coffee and the last thing I do before I go to bed. I immerse myself in all things design on social media and design blogs— every single day.
Another tip in staying inspired is to surround yourself with other creatives. They don’t have to be in the same industry. As long as they create any form of art, they will definitely get you inspired. My boyfriend is a filmmaker, so I get exposed to all sorts of media-—films, documentaries, comic books, anime, video games, you name it! I also get to meet other interesting people outside my circle through him like other filmmakers, writers, artists, musicians, and creatives. I think being able to engage with other designers outside of architecture gives me a big creative boost.
Megan exhibits the kind of design thinking that is often touted as a necessary 21st century skill. She values creativity in problem-solving, collaboration that breeds innovation, and the digital space that enables making ideas more tangible. Her mindset of constantly sourcing inspiration from her clients, her peers, other disciplines and any resource available to her surely makes this all-around designer an inspiration for any creative professional.
- Online portfolio: https://www.behance.net/megancamaya
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/megancamaya/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/alphaomegan/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megancamaya.architect/