Design Counsel
May 25, 2022


By: Anna Popov

Design Counsel
May 25, 2022


By: Anna Popov

"Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space."

Reading is my happy place. In many ways, through the course of my life, I have used reading as a method of both invigoration and relaxation. Sometimes I just want to sit and delve into a book so I can drain it of the information inside, learn and move on. Other times, I want to disappear into a story that I find so interesting that all I can think about is getting back to it after a busy day at work. Recently, as I was flipping through the pages of a book documenting the complete works of the revolutionary, female architect Zaha Hadid, I read this quote and thought to myself how it so neatly sums up one of my most treasured design philosophies. The idea that good design can have a profound effect on a person’s well-being has always been so appealing to me.

But let’s face it, these last few years have been tough and although I wish it was true, good design cannot bring balance and well-being to every facet of our lives. We have to be intentional in allowing time to wind down, recharge and be the best version of ourselves. So, I sat down with the team recently to check-in on how everyone is doing and encourage some open conversation on the topic. What methods do they practice in their daily lives for self-care? How stressed out do they get? How can we be more supportive? How do we nurture a culture of balance in our work and personal lives? The overwhelming theme was that it is a work in progress; no one person has it all figured out. But it is good to talk, good to feel safe and good to know we are always here for each other.

With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I thought it was timely to share some of their insight.


Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together the mind and body. It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. For the longest time, my way to look after my mental and physical health was my beloved yoga practice. The rigors of a growing business, along with my heavy travel schedule have played havoc with consistent practice and I feel it. I need to get back to it as it has a huge positive effect on my mental health and overall quality of life.


We all feel from time to time that we need our own space, right? Tatiana says that time alone helps her to reorient herself whenever she feels stressed or overwhelmed.  ‘I also take a martial arts class once a week and it does wonders for my mental health, a safe way to get any frustrations and aggressions out’ Wow, I had no idea we had a ninja in the house!


There is a myriad of apps out there these days that focus on self-care – all you have to do is find one that works for you! Michaela says that she recently found an app called Better Help that connects you to a therapist in your local area.  ‘You can send messages and video chat as needed. They’ll also provide challenging worksheets. It’s been helpful. Other than that, a bottle of wine every now and then helps too.’  Yes Michaela, I could not agree more!


So, this one might seem obvious but how many of us don’t get enough quality, consistent sleep? ‘I have tried some stress management techniques, but I am still trying to figure out what works for me. In the meantime, I usually try to get enough sleep’ Oh sleep, you are so important yet so elusive – I am very glad to hear you prioritize it Chinatsu.


And back to my point above about yoga, Erica swears by getting her sweat on to keep herself grounded. ‘I go to the gym 3 times a week and always try to squeeze in tennis or golf over the weekend’ Only a little jealous Erica, no wonder you are so chill!

Interior Visual – Rendered by Caelin Wooten


So, it looks like we have a dreamer in our midst! Caelin is one of our newest designers and he is uber talented! ‘Usually, to clear my mind or de-stress I like to go for long drives, model/render designs, spend time with friends and family, and listen to lo-fi/chill music.’ Thank you, Caelin, for reminding me that I too love long drives and listening to chill music! There’s my plan for the weekend.


When your mind is filled with all the workings of a busy design studio and managing a busy design team whilst also being a mom of 3 and all that entails, a girl needs a BREAK! ‘My mind used to work overtime at night but not anymore. Since I found Jay’ (BTW she calls him by his first name, as if they are actual friends) ‘I can switch off and fall asleep in no time, Finding Jay Shetty’s daily meditations have been a game changer. Couple that with a philosophy that laughter can be the best medicine and the famous Irish ideal that a cup of tea can fix all problems, I am set’ Can we meditate and then laugh and drink tea together at our next Company Operations meeting please?


There you have it; a glimpse into my incredible team and our strategies to stay in the game, be productive and keep true to ourselves all the while. I couldn’t ask for more.

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Podcasts are my new favorite way to stay engaged in current affairs and keep me occupied when I travel. Yingfei, is our newest designer and she is a treasure! Boy are we lucky to have her smart and varied experience on our team. ‘My way to release pressure is working out while listening to one of my favorite podcasts – Think Fast, Talk Smart. It may not look like something that helps one to be calm and relaxed, but I personally find it so helpful. I get a lot out of the tips from guest speakers that summarize exactly what I’ve experienced in my personal and professional life.’ Yingfei, I hear you. Being able to relate and feel that others go through similar things is really helpful to me too.