VMSD - April 2014 - (Page 56)
Interview by Carly Hagedon
The project director at MBH Architects (Alameda, Calif.) talks colorful Mexican influences and
his deep love of photography.
What are your roots?
I grew up and was educated in Mexico. My mom is originally from San Francisco and I
had never visited until I decided to go for about six months in 2000 during the dot-com
boom. And I ended up staying.
The dot-com boom must have been an exciting time.
The funny thing is the boom turned to bust in the next few months. I kind of jumped
into the plane as it was going down, but it was an interesting experience to be here.
Was moving to the U.S. a big transition?
No, because I was single ... one thing I brought with me is that I'm not afraid to use
color. If you've ever been to Mexico, we use color without being ashamed.
What were some of your earliest design jobs?
I worked for a kitchen design studio in Mexico. That job helped me learn client
management because there is nothing more dangerous than messing with somebody's
kitchen - especially if that somebody lives in Mexico where kitchens and cooking are
such a big, essential part of life. After that, believe me, most of it has been much easier.
Hey, teacher! Leave
them kids alone!
What are some of your favorite pastimes?
Photography is one of my big pastimes - and food. I try to experiment in the kitchen on
weekends. But if I cook, I don't do dishes!
Olvera attended Tecnológico de
Monterrey (nuevo León, Mexico) where
students must choose their major before
beginning their studies:
Are your family test subjects for your "experiments"?
Yeah, and the kids especially will say, uh, no. My only rule is to try it. If you don't like it,
you don't have to finish it, but just try it!
"I took a year off because I was undecided
between architecture and industrial
engineering. I have three uncles who are
architects and they told me: 'Don't go
into architecture!' I ended up choosing
architecture against all odds and all
advice; it seems that it was my true calling.
Sometimes people who've graduated in
[industrial engineering] end up working
more in the administration side of
businesses. With architecture, you get to
leave a built legacy."
You mentioned photography as a pastime.
On rainy days or at night when I need to relax, I like going through old photos and
playing with them in Photoshop - cropping them and making them more interesting. I
take photos from old trips and bring them back to life. I have three kids and one thing
they enjoy is when I show them photos of when they were little.
What are some trends you've seen in 2014 so far?
The competition for customers is tough because online has been growing exponentially. I
think sustainability is here to stay and though codes are mandating it, the companies that
willingly embrace it early will stand to gain a lot, not just financially. Clients recognize
that they're trying to do something to save the planet. x
56 APRIL 2014 | vmsd.com
AMOr TerrAzAs, ALAMedA , CALif.
Does your photography play into your design?
Yes, especially for colors, materials and lighting. Every now and then, I'd have a print of
something and say, 'here's one idea that we think can work.' Having a photo instead of a
drawing can sometimes make it more real to clients.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - April 2014
VMSD - April 2014
From the Editor
VMSD Editorial Advisory Board
VMSD Designer dozen 2014
In the Black (and White)
Look What’s Popping Up All Over
VMSD - April 2014