Architect Dara Huang on her top tips for success
Dara Huang is an architect and creative director of Design Haus Liberty, we picked her brains on what's it like to break into such a competitive industry, going it alone and going to uni with Mark Zuckerberg.
Describe your typical working day.
‘My office is very close to my flat so it’s a quick morning commute to check emails or write a to-do list for myself and my team members. From the office, we usually do a weekly meeting to update everyone on each project status then I sit down with each person individually to go over design. I like to be an active part of the design process, so I bounce between multiple projects doing 3D modelling, putting together materials, or sending drawings out to special fabricators.’
What was your first job?
‘I was paid to paint murals for a fast food chain in the US called Taco Bell!’
Who inspires you?
‘I have several role models. Most of them are entrepreneurial women who are self-made and able to have a healthy family life. Of course, I deeply admire my parents, without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. Design-wise, I really admire the work of Peter Zumthor and Kengo Kuma.’
How did you get to where you are today?
‘I got my bachelor degree from the Univesity of Florida and went on to get my masters at Harvard. During my time there, I won some national scholarships which allowed me to travel around the world. I also interned at several well known architecture firms in New York and Tokyo. I then worked for Herzog De Meuron in Switzerland and Foster and Partners in London. From there I was definitely ready to take that leap and start my own practice.’
How did you set up your company?
‘I made sure I had some savings built up and at least one client who wanted to work with me before saying my ‘goodbyes’ from my old firm. I found an office, started a website – it all started quite small and grew from there. Clients started coming in surprisingly quickly, but it required significant networking.’
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘”All I have to do is ask.” Sometimes we are paralized with fear: fear of rejection or fear of asking a stupid question.
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