Staff Spotlight: Neda Fattahi

Q: Where are you from?
I grew up in Tehran, the mountainous capital city of Iran. I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a couple of years when I was high school and then went back to Iran for a few years before moving to Oregon!

Q: Where did you go to school?
I studied architecture at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Living in the rural town of Eugene was a big contrast to the urban lifestyle I was used to. Eugene is a perfect college town, and I grew to love it over the five years that I lived there.

Q: Tell me about your family.
I have an older brother who works in tech and lives in South Bay with his wife, my parents are business owners and live back home in Iran.

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
I’m mostly fascinated by the impact of space and architecture on people’s everyday lives and how it can enable them to lead a better, happier, and healthier lifestyle. What I love about residential architecture is the opportunity to create a space and a home that is a direct reflection of a family’s values, dreams, and what they aspire to be.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
I like working on a wide variety of projects that are new and offer a lot of learning opportunities. I enjoy working with clients who are adventurous and open to new ideas!

Q: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Complete a triathlon, successfully crash a stranger’s wedding, and climb mount Fuji!

Q: Favorite SF hidden gem?
Jack Early Park in North Beach!

Q: What are five features you would include in your dream home?
I would want a large library with floor to ceiling shelves and a reading nook, large windows and lots of natural light, a lap pool, a sun filled art studio, and a large outdoor deck!

Q: Where are you most excited to travel next?
Argentina and Japan have been on my travel list for a while, and I hope to visit them soon!

Staff Spotlight: Janie Wright

Q: Where are you from?
I am originally from Waverly, Tennessee. I feel that growing up in a small town of 4,000 people shaped me in many ways. Even though I have left and explored, I always love the feeling of driving back into my hometown. I love that it feels like nothing has changed at all, but then every now and then there’s a surprise that keeps things interesting.

Q: Where did you go to school?
I studied architecture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This experience opened my world to study abroad, which was quite literally life changing for me. The first study abroad trip I took was around the Gulf of Finland. From the moment I landed in Sweden, I knew that traveling was going to be a big part of my life. The opportunity to learn about architecture by experiencing it within a cultural context was profound for me. Following this trip, I went on to do a semester abroad in Krakow, Poland. This love for travel eventually led to an opportunity to work abroad in Indonesia building Bamboo architecture. My time on the island reignited my creative spirit and helped me see design from a new perspective.

Q: Tell me about your family.
My family is all from Tennessee. Most of them live within miles of each other, many on the same street. My parents are my biggest supporters and what I am most grateful for in my life. They have been incredibly patient with me as I have pushed the boundaries and forced them to leave their comfort zones on multiple occasions. I also have multiple families across the world, both human and animal. My Bali family is near and dear to my heart as they helped me through one of the most adventurous and challenging times in my life.

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
Most of my experience is in hospitality design and I have always aspired to work on single family residential. In both project types, I get to help design an experience and create the backdrop for so many life moments. My work in Bali was highly focused on how a person feels in a space and how materials can impact that feeling. This work deepened my passion for architecture and interior design. Combining this concept with the framework of the senses and elements is where I find so much joy and possibility to create an impact through design.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
Residential design. I love the idea that I get to help shape someone’s daily life. A person’s home is the place they should feel the most themselves and the most comforted. This is the place where they will have their morning coffee and spend time with their family. Where they will make major life decisions and host milestone events. It’s where they will come back to after a long day and find solace. It’s a huge gift to give to someone and a very meaningful relationship to me.

Q: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

  1. Travel to as many places as possible! Would love for my parents to see the places I’ve lived abroad and to show them how much it means to have had their support along the way.
  2. Dance in a flash mob! I have actually done this once before and am patiently awaiting the next opportunity.
  3. Like most architects, I dream of building my own house!

Q: How does your personal identity shape your design practice?
I feel my identity has shifted and built upon itself with every new experience. I am a very different person than I was growing up in Waverly, but also the same in many ways. I grew up questioning things. Why things are the way they are and how can they be different or better. I am a very curious person and enjoy learning new things that change my perspective. I feel this is highly important in design. With each new client, I get to learn about their own experiences and unique backgrounds, while also discovering a new site with interesting limitations and possibilities. There is so much to learn from each new project and each time it reshapes the identity I have as a designer.

Q: What are five features you would include in your dream home?

  1. Nooks, lots of nooks!
  2. Luxurious retreat style bathtub set in nature where I can see the stars and completely escape.
  3. Secret rooms and passages that create interest and mystery.
  4. Views of both the sunrise and the sunset. I feel it is important to align my life with the cycle of the sun, but also because I feel these are magical moments that happen every day and should not be missed.
  5. Seamless indoor/outdoor environment that celebrates the way the environment impacts and weathers spaces over time and is overflowing with edible plants!

Q: Where are you most excited to travel next?
This list is constantly growing and hard to choose just one. I guess I can say I am the most eager to return to Bali at some point. It will always hold a special place in my heart and be a second home to me.

Staff Spotlight: Fernanda Gusmao


Q: Where are you from?
I’m from a planned city called Goiania in the state of Goias, Brazil. Its urbanism was influenced by the City Garden movement and Art Deco. As a reference, the city is located in the middle of the country, 2 hours from the capital, Brasilia (planned by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer).

Q: Where did you go to school?
I studied Law in a Catholic University called Pontificia Univerdade Catolica de Goias.

Q: Tell me about your family.
My mother, Zuleika, is a brave matriarch that taught my sisters and I to be independent and to face challenges head on despite all the adversity in the world. I have 2 sisters, Kamilla and Lorena, who taught me every Bon Jovi song, as well as how to bring humor into every aspect of my life. To keep the girl power going, my 2 nieces are the newest additions to the family – they’ve certainly introduced a different way of seeing the world, as well as a little hope for the future.

My partner, my dog, and I enjoy exploring the city, binge watching TV series, and playing video games. We have our own lazy dynamic on the weekends.

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
I never realized how big of an impact architecture had on my life until recently. Visiting Brasilia as a kid, I always viewed architecture as an art. Now I’ve come to understand that it’s also a way of making people’s lives easier and better.

Q: What is your favorite part about coming into work?
I love interacting with my coworkers and creating a warm and welcoming space in our office.

Q: What is the last show you binge watched?
Severance!

Q: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Learn to skate, buy an electric guitar, and go to New Orleans.

Q: What are five features you would include in your dream home?
A home theater, a barbecue area, a pool, an arcade room, and a beer fridge.

Q: Where are you most excited to travel next?
Italy.

Staff Spotlight: Nicholas Mobilia


Q: Where are you from?
I’m originally from a small town called North East; it’s in northwestern Pennsylvania. I usually just tell people I’m from Erie because it’s less confusing that way. Especially when I was living in Philadelphia – everyone assumed I was talking about the northeastern region of the city.

Q: Where did you go to school?
I went to school at Penn State. It’s a bit of a family tradition; my dad, my brothers, and a lot of my family went there. I chose it because I didn’t know what I wanted to study and it’s a large school that offers a lot of different programs.

Q: Tell me about your family.
I have two brothers – one older and one younger. My family and I are tight knit but right now they all live in the DC area. Prior to that we were all scattered but now I’m the outlier on the west coast. I also have a two-year-old niece which makes me feel old; it’s okay though because she’s the cutest child that ever lived.

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
I like buildings that are situated on interesting or complex sites. It’s a fun challenge to design something that responds to and complements its setting without being overpowering. Beyond the overall design process I enjoy detailing a building. It’s like putting together a puzzle – how do all of the complexities and intricacies come together so that the finished building looks like the original sketches and renderings.

Q: What is the last show you binge watched?
I binged watch For All Mankind. It’s a sci-fi show that depicts an alternate history in which the Soviet Union succeeds in landing the first people on the moon rather than the US. As a result, the space race and cold war never end. It’s a really cool and nerdy premise which is right up my alley.

Q: Did you pick up any new hobbies during quarantine?
Not too many – I got a bit more into board games and definitely watched more TV but other than that I think things stayed relatively the same.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
Unsure! I’ve spent a lot of time working on large multi-family projects so I’m excited to transition to smaller ones where we can create more intricate and beautiful detailing.

Q: What are five features you would include in your dream home?
Lots of windows! I love having natural light. I’d also want some sort of interesting or relaxing view, outdoor space or spaces, a nice kitchen (after so long living in small apartments I’m dying for a normal sized kitchen), and a fireplace for the coziness factor.

Q: Where are you most excited to travel next?
Asia or South America. No specific destination in mind yet but those are two huge geographic areas I’ve never been to. I’ve traveled through the US a decent amount and I’ve made a few trips to Europe so I’m anxious to try something new.

Staff Spotlight: Parker Klebahn

Q: Where are you from?
Born and raised in San Francisco, west coast best coast!

Q: Where did you go to school?
I went to Lick-Wilmerding High School here in San Francisco and then I went to Syracuse University in upstate NY, where I studied Architecture and European History. After living on the East Coast for five years it was time to come back to San Francisco!

Q: Tell me about your family.
I have a younger sister who is currently in college in New York, and my parents are both in education here in the Bay Area. I also have two black labs, Atlas and Stella!

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
I have always deeply appreciated the emotional connection that architecture creates between the designer and the client. I think that this is especially prevalent and important in the kind of work we do, single family residential. Working with clients to craft great spaces for their families is a beautiful and powerful thing to do every day, which I feel often gets lost at larger scales and especially in commercial architecture. Creating spaces to enrich and galvanize our clients’ lives is extremely rewarding!

Q: What makes our office unique?
There are many things that make FA unique – firstly, it’s an unbelievable group of people to work with every day, and everyone is super talented and driven. There is such a high level of commitment amongst the whole office to promote a healthy, positive, and fun studio culture. Having worked here as an intern for two summers it felt very much like I was coming home to FA as opposed to starting a new job!

Q: Did you pick up any new hobbies during quarantine?
My dad and I started smoking our own barbeque! We had a smoker in the backyard for a solid 8 or 9 years and never used it, so we started trying to smoke our own brisket. It was pretty bad the first go around, but we improved a lot in our next attempts – now I think that it’s better than anything you can get in the Bay Area!

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work? (in person or virtually)
Everyday at FA is fun, even when we have an intense deadline, it’s still always a blast! This is also helped by the espresso machine and the liberal amount of quality snacks in the kitchen. And of course, the team makes it worthwhile!

Q: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
I would really like to visit Antarctica! I’ve been fortunate enough to make it to 6 out of the 7 continents and would love to cap it off.

Women of FA: Lindsey Theobald

Q: When did you first become interested in architecture?
I guess my interest started in high school when I declared Architecture as my major on my Cal Poly application. I applied for Biology at every other school, except that one. I don’t remember what I thought I was going to do with Biology, but I think I went for Architecture because it was more specific and it seemed to be exciting and defined. There wasn’t the typical “I love legos” phase or anything like that – I just liked design. I never took any art classes, so I wasn’t hugely artistic but I remember my mom and I designing my room all the time; rearranging the furniture, choosing the colors, and I found that to be super fun. I was into coloring and mixing patterns, and just had a sense of general childlike creativity.

Q: What is your favorite part of the design process? What kind of projects do you gravitate towards?
I’m visual, so I love looking at images on Instagram – that’s always a fun rabbit hole to fall into. I find a lot of inspiration in imagery, and often ask for reference images from our clients so I can pinpoint the look and feel we are trying to achieve. Images are especially effective for interior projects, which make up a large part of my work – it’s an effective way for the client to share their vision or ideal aesthetic with me and vice versa. Once I have a clear idea of the look and feel, I try to figure out the material palette. I get the physical materials in front of me before moving forward. We’re constantly getting new materials for our office library that I (try to!) organize and keep up to date. The materials library is so lovely and I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Q: What project are you most proud of?
Twin Peaks for a few reasons:
1. I very much enjoyed working with the client and admire her as a person.
2. I managed this project almost solo, which worked out well due to the wonderful collaboration between the client, the contractor, and myself.
3. It was the first project I worked on with an Interior Design scope – all furnishings and decorative items were in my scope as well.

Q: Who is your favorite female architect?
Patricia Urquiolav is someone I admire mostly because she has been so prolific for such a long time. I took notice of her after I realized that every furniture piece or tile I was liking was her design – I really appreciate her celebration of colors and texture. She can be modern without having the negative connotations that occasionally go with the term: like sleek, cold, and sterile. She uses a huge range of colors and has a multi-hued palette, yet her pieces feel neutral and timeless. Same with textures – her textures can be so outrageous, but in each individual piece, they feel just right. I also appreciate that she took her design sensibilities from architecture into product design and interiors. She must have fun getting to design every little thing.

Kelly Behun is another favorite of mine. She never fails to surprise me with a new thought, style, idea. Her designs are just fun.

Q: What is the most interesting project you’re working on right now?
I have two projects that I find really interesting for different reasons:

One is a home for a very creative family. They are pushing our team’s design “comfort zone” in a way that excites me. I love hearing their ideas and then figuring out how to shape them in a way that fits the house and makes sense within the larger design of the project. Their ideas are not superfluous; there is genuine thought and function behind each direction, but the design outcome is probably not one that I’d come to on my own – which I consider a very good thing. I love the collaboration and being pushed beyond my default design style.

The other project that comes to mind pushes me in a different way. The entire project team is diving deep into product, material, and systems research to understand the nuances that matter to this client. I’ve been having in depth conversations with vendors, product representatives, and subcontractors and learning more about the intricacies of their product, materials, and/or work. I’ve enjoyed gaining knowledge at such a detailed level and it’s allowed the team to really dial in the pieces that make up this project.

Q: How do you express yourself creatively outside of the office?
My creativity is pretty tapped at work. My time out of the office is focused on recharging. My husband and I like to keep our house and yard looking good, so there is some creativity there, but it often feels like we are the cobbler’s son/daughter with no shoes. We can get too exhausted to work on our own house and projects! Instead I prioritize being outside, exercise, hanging out with my kids and friends. I enjoy having a life separate from work.