ACCOMPLISHED ARCHITECT BASED IN NYC: VICTORIA BENATAR
EXD Architecture is honored to be featured in December 2023’s issue of Photobook Fashion Magazine
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Explore the transformative world of architecture and interior design with Victoria Benatar, an accomplished architect based in New York City. As the founder of Victoria Benatar Architect PLLC and co-founder of EXD Architecture PLLC, Victoria, along with Michelle Cianfaglione, lead a 100% woman-owned firm committed to enriching lives through thoughtfully crafted spaces.
With an illustrious career marked by awards and published works, Victoria’s expertise extends to her role as an esteemed professor at Parsons the New School for Design, where she imparts her knowledge to the next generation of architects and interior designers.
Navigating the intersections of neuroscience, urban culture, sustainability, and shared economies, Victoria’s work transcends conventional boundaries, shaping the future of design. Immerse yourself in her portfolio, and witness firsthand how Victoria Benatar’s dedication to improving lives through design has left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape.
How do your roles as a registered architect and educator intersect, and how does teaching influence your professional practice?
Being an architect by nature is being an educator. We educate not only our students on how to create and represent architecture, but our clients on how their dream space can be achieved. We ask them a lot of questions beyond the programmatic needs.
Questions on how they would like to live, what are their dreams aspirations, childhood memories. The objective is to obtain a fuller picture of their subconscious to use the appropriate tools to create safe spaces. Spaces where they feel at home. We convert WHITE BOXES into their HOMES.
In your 27 years as a professor, how has your teaching evolved, and what key lessons do you aim to instill in your students, both in architecture and interior design?
I started my teaching career by creating courses for transition between analog to digital representation. I have always been interested in representation for architecture which if the tool that allows for the communication of ideas, not only to others but to yourself. Drafting is the way to take ideas out in the world. Without a clear representation a project cannot be communicated.
Since the mid-80s I have been interested in digital technologies for representation. How the use of technology has changed the way we communicate. When I started teaching some students had never turned on a computer, while today, everything is digitalized, and all the students have been exposed to technology since birth. This fact has changed the way we teach.
The irony is the today I teach not only digital but analog representation. With an intense use of technology to draw and produce projects, we have forgotten the importance of analog and drafting to keep the basics alive. Hand drawing has an immediate connection with the subconscious where is the place ideas live.
After 27 years as a professor, I have understood that the hand is connected to the brain. Ideas are like dreams and if they are not sketched or drafted, they get forgotten the same as a dream if is not written.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for women in architecture today, and how have you overcome obstacles in your own career?
It is always challenging to be a professional in a male-dominated environment, but fortunately this has been changing throughout the years. More women are studying architecture and continue practicing afterwards, which has been a new trend.
Your belief that “design really matters” is central to your work. Share specific examples of how your designs have positively impacted people’s lives?
Over the years, I’ve come to realize a profound link between design and well-being. Until recently, my understanding of this connection was largely intuitive. I’ve observed the transformative impact of design on family dynamics and improved them by creating personalized spaces for each family member, which promotes improved relationships.
Moreover, I’ve demonstrated how design contributes to businesses success by aligning with their objectives, addressing customer needs, and shaping the look and feel of the spaces. This not only engages customers but also enhances employee productivity within well-designed, well-lit environments.
I’ve found how design plays a crucial role in stress reduction and the promotion of wellbeing and self-esteem, allowing users to feel beautiful and validated. Presently, I’m exploring deeper into this subject, by the study of neuroscience to understand how the brain responds to beauty, color, light, and order. This is my new task to demonstrate with science why design matters…