Dulce Valdivieso, winner of the first I&D contest, is an example of the young architectural talent in Latin America. With only 22 years of age, this is the first award of many she will certainly receive along her professional career.
The distribution of space, use of color, and strategic choice of appliances she exhibited showed the jury of the first I&D contest her comprehensive vision as an architect, knowledge of trends, and clear focus when it comes to turning a kitchen into a harmonious and practical space custom-made for modern lifestyles. However, how her project was perceived took Valdivieso by surprise, who still can’t believe she ended up being the winner of the contest. “When I received the e-mail I immediately thought I was getting the typical “thank you for your participation” message. But no; the e-mail indicated I was the winner. I still can’t believe it.”
The young Honduran architect explains that she was surprised by the specifics of the contest. “I liked the proposal because the contest awards what you are passionate about, and that encouraged me to participate. Besides, it caught my attention for several reasons: First, I could present a design that had not been executed, and second, because the contest convened professionals from the whole continent. Which represented quite a challenge since it meant presenting a project before a jury with an international vision.”
The architect also states that her work that is focused on residential interior design, found in the I&D contest an opportunity to stand out.
Colors, texture, and light
Dulce Valdivieso believes that designing a kitchen represents a unique opportunity for an architect to be able to develop their creativity, and that was precisely what she portrayed in the winning project of the first I&D contest. “I believe that a kitchen must be conceived as a piece of art. That means a space where each element has a purpose and constitutes a harmonious, beautiful and functional whole. For that reason, my proposal presented an open space towards the living room and dining room, because pieces of art are something you want to exhibit and share with others.”
In the view of the architect, an open kitchen must be, as a rule, a well-designed social space. “Therefore, my project had all those elements. I used warm colors such as red and orange, along with textures in light colors -granite and wood- that helped me provide balance. The appliances also have an important role in this type of design concepts. They must be beautiful, of course, but also practical because the kitchen is a service space.”
Valdivieso states that the concept she presented before the jury of the I&D contest has all the elements that a modern kitchen should have. “In other words, a space with a strategic distribution, that makes food preparation easy and includes appliances for that purpose. Additionally, it must be a place that promotes sharing with others, and lighting plays an important part in this issue. Since natural light stimulates the senses and cheers you up, it must be present in the kitchen during the day. Using artificial light at night needs to create an atmosphere of recreation and relaxation. For all these reasons lighting is an aspect to be worked carefully.”
Architecture, a profession beyond genders
The young architect winner of the first I&D contest says that nowadays architecture is a comprehensive profession. “An architect is a creator and an advisor,” she emphasizes.
The Honduran architect adds that one of the most important skills she hopes to incorporate into her profession -mainly pertaining to those who specialize in kitchen design- is knowing appliances in depth. “Appliances are not only equipment that makes a kitchen functional, but also part of the concept developed in the kitchen and as such, must be adapted to its level of usability. Here’s when knowing the appliance, its virtues and capabilities, becomes essential. It is not the same thing to think about a refrigerator or range for a big family versus one for a young couple. These details must be considered so, choosing them needs to be based on the needs of the final user.”
In that sense, for Valdivieso, the brand Smeg is the first one that comes to mind. “Smeg offers design on the outside and sophisticated technology on the inside. It is my favorite brand. Their 50’s retro-inspired line offers colors and designs that are brilliant, aside from being a combination of durability, style and technology.”
The participation of women in architecture has always been a delicate subject. However, Dulce Valdivieso does not see it that way. “Women have been gaining ground in many professions, not just in architecture. When I studied in Honduras there was an equal number of men and women in the classrooms. In fact, there are women who have won Pritzker awards, the highest recognition in this profession. The first one was Zaha Hadid (2204) and last year, Carme Pigem (along with Rafael Aranda and Ramón Villalta) received such award. That represents a remarkable milestone since female names have started to be as important as masculine names within the profession.”
When asked if there is a difference between a masculine and feminine design, the winner of the first I&D contest states that, in terms of quality, there is none. “It would probably have more to do with the approach in terms of the elements and the style where the differences could be identified. I believe women could be more inclined towards including delicate elements in the designs. Nevertheless, I believe the profession is beyond genders and the beauty and practicality of a work can come from the creativity of a man or a woman.”