We are kicking off a series of interviews with friends and colleagues that share our desire to make beautiful things. You could say they are “friends of a similar kind”. And if you are like us, you can’t help but to want to know more about the person behind a beautiful creation.
Alejandra Lillo certainly has created beautiful things. Her work has been widely published and exhibited at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, LACMA, UCLA, Stilwerk Design Gallery Hamburg, Aedes Gallery Berlin, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, The School of Architecture in Florence at the SESV Santa Verdiana, The European Centre’s Contemporary Space in Athens Greece, and the Biennale Architeturra in Venice. During her tenure with GRAFT in Los Angeles, she was key in the firm’s philanthropic enterprises, including Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation New Orleans.
We asked Ali how she sees things:
What do you love about what you do for a living?
One of the things I love most about design and architecture is the opportunity to both learn about and play a part in the formation of people’s experiences, feelings and memories through the design of their surroundings. It’s a tremendously creative, intimate and personal undertaking which conversely (or perversely) is simultaneously so public. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to creatively interact with the world around us at a variety of scales, from designing logos to art installations to large architectural and urban planning work. I love being able to work with both old world and cutting edge technologies to influence a wide variety of senses.
How long have you being doing it?
I’ve been working in architecture, interior design and product design for 15 years. Looking back through my childhood yearbooks, I’ve wanted to be an architect the since second grade. This affair was only briefly interrupted by a fascination with fashion design, which is not a far stretch … so I guess you can say design has always been the underpinning of my interests.
What place(s) in your current hometown do you go to find inspiration?
I find inspiration is a wide variety of places. Los Angeles has extraordinary cultural offerings such as the Huntington Gardens, LACMA, MOCA, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Griffith Park, to name just a few. Coupled with the incredible music and fashion scene here, it is rivaled by very few cities in the world. Add to that Los Angeles’ unique and raw urban character, galleries, buildings, restaurants, boutiques, bridges (small but beautiful), and extraordinary natural landscapes and it’s honestly very difficult not to be inspired here.
Is there an upcoming project you can share with us?
We’ve had the wonderful experience of working closely with Chef Evan Funke in the design of his new restaurant, Bucato, scheduled to open in July 2013 in Culver City’s historic Helms Bakery. The cuisine, an elemental and fundamentally driven interpretation of Italian cooking, is echoed in the restaurant’s design, in the honesty of materials/ingredients, a casual yet refined atmosphere and a simplicity in terms of the quantity of components/protagonists (though arguably complex in execution and affect).
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Since I sit in front of a computer far too often, most people don’t know that I am quite athletic and really love the outdoors. I’m a certified rescue diver (I hope to retire to a scuba shack someday.). I was a lifeguard for a time and also used to be a ski instructor in Argentina (where I lived for over a decade). I learned how to fire a gun when I was five, in the backyard of our home in Rock Island, Illinois, by taking aim at my Barbie’s heads at my father’s behest…twisted really (I’ve not decided if this is a good thing or not but it is certainly not common knowledge). I enjoy psychedelic space hippy influences to an uncanny degree. And finally, to the amusement (and horror) of my husband/partner… I know the lyrics of way too many ranchero songs without any real understanding of where this knowledge may have come from.
What is your favorite wearable/fashion item?
I inherited a pretty amazing collection of jewelry from my husband’s late Aunt Frannie. Within that is this incredible silver ring from an unknown designer. She was a collector of fine and truly unusual things, exquisite taste really. The ring is an enormous silver, onyx and gold bulbous/scarab shaped bauble that takes up the length of my finger from my knuckle to my palm. It is remarkably understated for such a large object: unquestionably present but works with just about anything I wear. It’s also a conversation starter, which is always a bonus.
Check out more of her work here: http://www.facebook.com/Undisclosable