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Designing Spaces with Authentic Emotions
Architect Jesus Noriega shares his creative process and go-to tools for designing unique experiential spaces with personality and emotion.
(The VF House is a single-family home project with modern and minimalist inspiration.)
“My goal is to leave a positive mark on communities by designing buildings and spaces that improve people's lives, respect the environment, and promote connection. Creativity plays a fundamental role in finding innovative and effective solutions to achieve this.”
Hi Jesus, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do, what is your background, and how did you get to this point in your career?
I was educated at the Santiago Mariño Polytechnic University Institute in Venezuela, where I obtained the title of Architect with honorable mention in September 2001. I began my career working on the design of retail projects. Then, in 2005, I started as a real estate developer and began to deepen my specialization in strategic project management and planning.
I consider myself passionate about design and a prospective observer of my environment. Over the last 16 years, I developed my experience as CEO of Nogarq, a Venezuelan architecture firm that specializes in offering comprehensive architectural solutions for projects, construction, and equipment. The team includes more than 50 talented design professionals with offices in the city of Caracas and Margarita Island.
I combine my professional life as CEO of Nogarq with union activity as a member of the Center of Architects and Engineers of Venezuela. I am also the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Construction.
(An alternate view of the VF House design in Concepts.)
What does your creative process look like? Do you approach design differently when working on a residential project versus a store or restaurant?
I don't have a magic formula for design or an automated process. Each project is unique, with its own variables, and the solution may arrive sooner or later, regardless of the degree of complexity. This is totally unpredictable.
Our workflow is very interesting. It is based on the assignment of a Project Manager and a Project Assistant who will take the project from its conceptualization to its materialization. During this journey, talented design professionals, strategists, engineers, and graphic designers are involved. The team is driven by a shared purpose of improving the way people experience the places we build while adding value to our clients with our design skills and techniques.
Now, whether it is a residential or retail project, the process is different. In the first case, it is a type of project with a slower process where emotional impact is more important. Translating the clients' desires to materialize the house of their dreams means interpreting their space needs, their family and cultural dynamics, and predicting the growth of family members. Which of these is the most important aspect and space for the family? The kitchen, the family room, the terrace? These are some of the factors that we must decipher with great subtlety.
Residential design is usually more difficult than designing a new restaurant concept, a department store, or a shopping center. In those cases, we focus our efforts on optimizing the investment with an in-depth market study of the target audience of the brands for whom we design, and knowing how to connect with the real needs of the user. This approach has led us to manage the architectural business that obtained recognition from the industry in Venezuela.
That said, we can highlight 5 keys that are always present in our creative process:
1. Exalt authentic emotions through design. What doesn't excite doesn't sell.
2. Experiential spaces that trigger emotions. Not because of the cost of its materials but because of their authenticity.
3. Spaces with identity and personality.
4. Every project must be Instagram-worthy. (70%)
5. Our projects are versatile places that evolve to continually renew themselves.
(“City Place” is an architectural concept for a strip mall.)
What are your go-to tools for design? How does technology influence your creative process, and where does Concepts fit into your workflow?
Every project starts from a sketch, in the past on a piece of paper, now on a tablet. This is where Concepts plays a very important role in my design process and in the conceptualization of projects. That Concepts allows me to create views based on a photo of an existing building or on a satellite image of land to be developed, is incredible.
The software I use on a PC is AutoCAD. For sketches and presentations, I use an iPad Pro with Concepts both for quick sketches and for more elaborate sketches of the style of a building, or even urban planning. Digitally presenting is a faster way to go, from CAD drawing to digital sketch mode, without wasting paper on printing. It's a great combination as Concepts works perfectly with PDF files that can be scaled with actual dimensions, making it easier to draw in true proportions and measurements instead of spending too much time estimating.
That is also the main reason why I use Concepts. It is very versatile, with its precision tools and image resolution quality – sketches I create with Concepts expand the possibilities of my creativity. It has excellent performance and line quality, no matter how large the sketch is. This allows me to carry out project conceptualizations no matter where I am and share them with the rest of my team immediately.
(A storefront design for a store specializing in bedding and accessories for the home.)
Can you walk us through how you design a new building or layout?
Of course, I will share 12 steps of the architectural design process that we follow at Nogarq.
1. Meeting with the client: This is one of the most important steps. It is about listening carefully to understand their needs, wish list, the purpose of the building, and the available budget.
2. Research and analysis:We investigate the site, local regulations, and weather conditions to make the right decisions.
3. Moodboard and initial sketches: Sketches are created by hand or on a computer to explore preliminary ideas and space layouts.
4. Spatial planning: The architectural program and the distribution of functional areas are defined, considering efficiency and comfort.
5. Conceptual design:More detailed graphical representations are developed, showing the general appearance of the building.
6. Plans and documents:Once the preliminary spatial distribution and style schemes have been approved, the engineering team begins to create detailed plans that include dimensions, structure, electricity, plumbing, etc.
7. Selection of materials and details: Construction materials are chosen, and details such as windows, doors and finishes are defined.
8. Budget and tender:We estimate the costs and send the client the offer letter for construction.
7. Approvals and permits: The developer is provided with the technical requirements for the necessary approvals from local authorities and construction permits are managed.
10. Construction:Once the budget is approved, construction and equipment procurement begins following the plans and specifications.
11. Supervision and Management:We supervise and manage construction progress to ensure our design standards are met.
12. Handover:The building is completed and handed over to the client for use.
(A master plan for an exclusive private development of beachfront homes designed in Concepts.)
Creativity plays a big role in helping us change and improve the world we live in. What impact do you hope to have as an architect in the communities you design for? How do you work to achieve that goal?
Creativity is truly essential in architecture. As an architect, I aspire to use my creativity in a meaningful way to positively impact the communities in which I design by contributing ideas and creating projects that meet people's needs efficiently. At the same time, I want my designs to be visually attractive to improve your quality of life. I want to design places with unrepeatable, dramatic, and surprising visuals. Spaces that encourage interaction and improve the city, creating references and meeting places that strengthen and transcend the memories of their users.
Ultimately, as an architect, my goal is to leave a positive mark on communities by designing buildings and proposing the creation of spaces that improve people's lives, respect the environment, and promote connection between people. Creativity plays a fundamental role in finding innovative and effective solutions to achieve these objectives.
(Varadero Mall is an entertainment and gastronomy shopping center that seeks to become a local meeting place.)
What is your dream project?
My dream project, and the most valuable one, I am currently working on. It is to build a successful brand as a real estate developer and to become a benchmark in the industry with reputation and honesty.
Finally, what would you say to someone who is trying to become an architect? Do you have any advice or tips you wish you had known when starting out?
Be passionate. Architecture is a career that requires a deep passion for design and creativity. Make sure you're really passionate about it before you commit. Be patient and persevere; nothing is instantaneous. Architecture can be a competitive and challenging field. Don't be discouraged by obstacles, and keep working without being afraid to be creative.
(Jesus with his team at the Nogarq headquarters located in Margarita Island, Venezuela.)
CEO/Co-Founder of Nogarq.
Jesus Noriega was born in October 1978 in Porlamar and graduated from the School of Architecture of the Santiago Mariño Polytechnic University Institute in September 2001. He has developed important commercial, residential and corporate architectural interventions at a national and international level.
Check out Jesus' Creator page.
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Cover Photo - Superstore of electrical appliances with more than 600 high-end products by Jesus Noriega
Interview by Annelise Sandberg
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Architectural Design Series - Learn architectural design sketching techniques on Concepts's YouTube channel with award-winning Architect Osama Elfar.