By Fabiola VargasOctober 5, 2017
My persistence to find the ideal firm led me to Board & Vellum. I knew immediately that I had found my “home,” a place that I could envision a very long future with, and finally set down some roots, a place that is a constant inspiration and is (gasp) fun to go work at every day! Board & Vellum checked off all the boxes on my ideal firm list: collaborative, non-traditional, multi-disciplinary, innovative, professionally supportive, and a general love for boxed wine.
I was born 5,000 miles away from Seattle, in a country that is the source of the 4,000 mile long Amazon river and has more than 3,000 kinds of potatoes. Yep, you guessed it! I’m from Peru, home of the architecturally impressive Machu Picchu.
After my first few years of life in Peru, I moved to the jewel of the Pacific Northwest – Seattle. It was in this beautiful city that I decided to become an architect at the age of 12, thanks to a family friend who took me to a Girls in Engineering and Architecture weekend workshop. As any proud Seattleite would do, I went to the University of Washington! I Majored in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and double-minored in Architecture and Anthropology. Upon graduation, I moved to San Francisco for a Master of Architecture program at CCA. I fell madly in love with the city and ended up staying for eight years.
At CCA I worked on an awesome project named (OP)Space. This transformative project provided visitors with various programmatic experiences ranging from a bike kitchen, to a fashion show, to a DJ lounge. The installation is defined by hinging hexagonal sections that operate similarly to the leaves an expandable table. This project peaked my interest in the design of retail and commercial environments and really exposed me to the intricacies of design-build. One of my many roles within (OP)Space was to develop a materials library specific to the project, where each material was outlined for its potential in the design, considering: dimension, flexibility, degree of deformation, and technical breakdown for fabrication. It was because of this project that I have a personal interest in flexible spaces that give the user ownership of their space and lets them redefine it. My studies at CCA provided me with great opportunities to engage with theoretical knowledge including urbanism, ecology, phenomenology, community, and fabrication.
I call San Francisco "Never Never Land" because it was a land of endless sunny warm days, park picnics, festivals, and brunch. After an eight-year love affair with SF, I knew it was time to change things up and really make more of an impact in my community, and start focusing on personal projects that I had identified there was a need for in Seattle. San Francisco helped me discover my personal and professional identity and armed me with the necessary tools to make an impact professionally and within a community context.
I seek to create authentic architecture that is innovative, elevates the human experience, and enhances the community. I strive to create spaces that are places for convergence and create special moments of interaction with one's environment. In my opinion, successful architecture is the intersection of architecture, art, and culture. Philosopher Heidegger defines as a true dwelling: "fullness, belonging, rootedness, organic solidarity between man and place and between man and man."
Aside from my architecture career, I’m involved in the AIA, Seattle Architecture Foundation, and Fremont Arts Council. I believe that giving back to the greater community is extremely important and I try to be involved as much as I can. Each group exposes me to different audiences, events, and leadership opportunities — adding layers of knowledge and further shaping me as a well-rounded designer.
In my free time I enjoy dancing (zumba, samba... you name it), hanging out with my birds, going to art walks, networking, and making cards. I have an obsession with antiquated paper and I hoard it. I like making cards that are mixed media and are layered to create texture and dimensionality. (Side Note: If you are ever in San Francisco, make sure to check out SCRAP, they have the best collection of paper I have ever seen.)