GAGA Design House’s take on design
* very enthusiastic and excited about someone or something.
One of the most interesting things about Architecture is that it is a manifestation of our humanity, a reflection of our collective experiences and feelings. But since experiences and feelings change in the blink of an eye, the practice is fluid. Seismic shifts brought about by the recession, calamity, or pandemic changes the way we look at our culture and navigate our environment. Every young architect or student today is formed in these riptides. This unprecedented maelstrom has imposed a perspective on them that is more distinct from that of their seniors. Like any profession that thrives on technology and leaps of ingenuity, the architecture industry holds a lot of opportunities for young architects to contribute to a constantly evolving world. Unfortunately, it's tough to make that kind of impact without first getting a foothold into what can be a hard-to-crack industry. GAGA Design House, headed by young architects Miguel Silva Garcia and Anna Garcia Garcia managed to fledge into these cracks and soar high with their seniors.
MORE THAN JUST NEW BLOOD
Probably half the age of the architect veterans, The GAGA Design House duo isn’t your typical new blood. Both in their early 30s, their portfolio teems with interesting projects - from low to high rise buildings, to retail, resorts, and residential projects , in and outside the metro. Some of their notable projects would be Project 2406, Brick House and ACS Residence.
THAT RED BRICK ROAD
One of their most memorable projects which reflects their design ethos is Brick House which is found in an affluent neighborhood in Pampanga. This Tropical Scandinavian house showcases the client’s love for nature and European travels. Shelled in striking red bricks, this house isn’t hard to spot as the design expresses a bold contrast against the familiar designs of its neighbors through a straightforward, outlined form.
Going through photos of their other projects, it only took me seconds to notice their signature look - all projects are distinct, bold, and monolithic.
THE CLIENT IS THE TEMPLATE
Much like their designs, the duo was able to build a confident, well-structured design firm, all thanks to their experience working with complex projects with different reputable companies before engaging in business. The firm also adheres to the constant communication and collaboration between client and designer to achieve the most comfortably designed space. They do not only pride themselves with the creative and unique execution of each project, they’re client-centered as well, a rare trait in firms headed by so-called millennial bosses. For the duo, Architecture does not have a template, the client is their template.
In D+C’s exclusive interview with the GAGA Design House Principals, Architect Miguel and Anna Garcia, we’re letting you in on the minds of such young but experienced architects who are able to create their own Philosophy for others to follow. Come through to see why we’re going gaga over GAGA designs.
D+C: Tell us something about Brick House.
Architect Miguel: This house reflects the GAGA vision and creativity. The Client wanted something fresh and modern. We noticed that around the village, nothing really calls you out for a second look. This house broke the monotony of its surroundings.
“We believe that each person is different and that their homes should reflect their differences”
Ar. Anna Garcia, Principal Architect-GAGA Design House
Ar. Miguel Garcia, Principal Architect-GAGA Design House
D+C: How did you go about convincing the client of this bold look?
Architect Anna : “It’s not really about convincing or imposing anything, it’s about collaboration“
Most clients show photos of designs they already like, but how will they know the other possibilities if they haven’t seen them yet? So rather than giving just one direction, we provide several design options or suggestions aside from the Client’s basic requirements to allow for organic decision making. This way, the client feels more natural in approving designs outside their initial project brief.
Sticking solely to the clients basic requirements would simply make us translators and our architectural style would not have seen the light of day.
D+C: That is a fresh take on design! Quite a tall order if you ask me. Don’t architects usually follow strict codes and standards?
Architect Miguel: Yes, we religiously adhere to these standards when designing, but to gain creative edge, we often educate ourselves on various engineering practices and innovations. This gives us an additional layer of flexibility to produce designs with more character and depth.
D+C: What is your take on trends, then?
Architect Anna : We know and respect them but part of our belief is to create bespoke designs tailored for each client. This ideology hinders us from completely submitting to these trends. Why do we design, if not to be timeless, right? We may, at times, go against the grain, but not without considering the proper elements applicable for the times. Instead of focusing on trends, we try to stay true to our brand, which is GAGA.
D+C: Earlier you’ve mentioned that your Client liked 3 different Architectural Styles. How were you able to come up with a seamless design?
Architect Miguel: *smiles* We took off all the details, meaning when you start a design with the bare minimum, you'll just be left with the form of the structure. Our belief is that if we're not working with any material yet, the form of the house should already speak for itself.
Brick House, was inspired by the client’s Asian an European travels. The Client was interested in Tropical, Industrial and Scandinavian Architecture but to avoid being too eclectic, we minimized the details and focused on solving the Client’s main concern which was indoor heat.
Making the house breathe by deconstructing its form literally made it a breathtaking structure.
D+C: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Architect Miguel: “STRUCTURES SHOULD HAVE EMOTIONAL VALUE” We, like other design firms, naturally practice being sustainable and practical, but apart from designing a functional structure for modern society’s expeditious and multifaceted lifestyle, our main contribution as Architects would be the emotional impact each design fosters.
D+C: What a fresh take on client-architect relationship. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is challenging for most architects.
Architect Miguel: True, initially starting a relationship with any client could be challenging, especially when most clients are already sure of what they want. It was important for us to have a clear vision of our identity from the start because this helped us attract like minded clients. I guess what really worked for us was staying true to our Philosophy.
D+C: I know that you’re both young (in your early 30s)! Has age ever been an issue in the practice of your profession?
Architect Anna : We would say that age being an issue will always be a common misconception as people in general equate age to experience. In our opinion , this isn't true. We just entered our 30s and have already worked on low, mid, and high rise buildings. In this case, experience equates to experience.