Q: Where are you from?

I was born in Ukraine and later moved to Montreal for the second half of my teenage years. I am from the fourth largest city in Ukraine—Dnipropetrovsk, or the short version Dniper. My parents live in Ukraine, but my older brother now resides in San Francisco.

Q: Where did you go to school?

My Bachelor’s degree is from McGill University in Montreal. I did my Masters in Barcelona at a tiny little school that’s on offshoot of MIT called IaaC. The degree in Spain provided an off-the-hook experience that did not focus on the same content as my internships, but instead challenged another way of thinking about architecture and urban planning. What I found when I arrived was that the school was structured around a super fun media lab, where we got to play with 3D printing and Kuka robots. It was basically a warehouse filled with grown-up architecture toys.

Q: Tell me about your family.

My dad is a jack of all trades. He has worked in the financial industry, construction and metal part production, as well as helped managing a TV show in Ukraine. My mom is an engineer by education, but she ended up working in the beauty industry and has a passion for making women look and feel great.

My brother also is a jack of all trades; he started his career in sales and then soon after diverted into the technical side of that position, which led him to founding his own startup at a very young age. Now he runs a business in SF and calls Silicon Valley his home. His company develops software that helps run sales engineering teams more efficiently and increases sales revenue.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

My attachment to architecture stemmed first from an interest in interior spaces. When my parents bought a new apartment in one of the high rises that my dad help develop some years ago, we commissioned a talented young architect to co-design the interior. Experiencing the space for the first time was very powerful to me, because I saw the immediate effect of his work on my family’s life. Parallel to that, I have always had a strong affinity for the fine arts. During middle school, I also enrolled in an art school, which entailed numerous hours of sketching, painting and sculpture per week. That experience helped to direct my life towards a career that involved combining my love for special design with the technical skills I developed during art school.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I, by method of deduction, have learned that while skyscrapers and large commercial projects are interesting to work on in regards to your ego and sheer complexity of the problem solving to be done, I find myself truly reveling in designing tiny parts and pieces of projects that come together in a clever way.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

About a month!

Q: Know any SF hidden gems?

The water organ in the Marina is pretty great. I also really like Lands End beach. My boyfriend recently showed it to me during a low tide, and we went star fish watching!! When waves recede, the beach becomes entirely exposed. There are massive rocks that the star fish attach to, so when the tide is low you can spot hundreds of them!

In terms of restaurants, I am a Souvla junkie. My favorite going out spot recently has been Phonobar, which is owned by one of my friends. It has a really nice loungy atmosphere and great drinks. Plus I get to DJ there.

Q: What makes our office unique?

I am yet to discover all the unique features, but what struck me from the beginning was how close-knit the team is. The leadership puts so much care towards cultivating very strong office culture. The overall successful feeling of the interior of the office was definitely an attention grabber when I came by for my first interview.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

Right now it’s learning and feeling like I can always get constructive feedback on what I am doing. It’s very encouraging, and makes me want to work and learn even more!

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

I am not the type of person who has one role model for life, but there is a French architecture studio, called StudioKO, that I came across about a year ago. They do work predominantly in Morocco while being based in Paris. They successfully manage to mesh ever so refined classical Parisian design elegance with the rough and colorful Moroccan terrains. The final product is really cool—you should definitely check it out!

Q: What’s your design process like?

My process starts with trying to understand the problem as much as I can by collecting all the pieces of information available. My mind constantly oscillates between analytical and messy artistic, so I tend to need to gather as much as I can to be able to start the process.  Later on, it’s about the big ideas. I like to write them down. Then, identify the moves and proceed into sketching/modeling, or whichever media makes the most sense at the moment.

Q: What is the strangest/most unique food you have ever eaten?

First off, I can tell you about the threshold I was not able to cross- which is fried crickets served on mole in Mexico City. My friends eagerly dove into the plate and enjoyed the crackling sound of crushing cricket skins, while I was curious, but also slightly disturbed.

I did try frog legs which were pretty okay. I would say the grossest thing that I am supposed to like since I am Ukrainian, but don’t, is raw pig fat. The dish consists of very dense pig fat that’s been marinated, smoked and salted but not cooked in the traditional way. It is definitely a relic of the past that I cannot imagine enjoying now.