“Women Take Charge at SOM”: This May 2020 article in Architectural Record, a profile on the three women partners who lead SOM’s Executive Committee, describes a milestone in the journey toward gender equity in our firm and in our profession. Women’s History Month is an occasion to celebrate influential women in SOM’s long history—including Natalie de Blois and Norma Merrick Sklarek—and also those who are making an impact today. In recent years, the SOM Women’s Initiative, a group founded in 2010, has worked to build a pipeline for talent and to promote the visibility of women in architecture, engineering, and construction.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked four women at SOM—in different cities, disciplines, and stages in their careers—to introduce themselves and to tell us what inspires them.
Product Designer, Los Angeles
Which woman in architecture do you admire the most?
I am inspired by Ivy Ross because of her multidisciplinary career path, and for her work at Google on neuroaesthetics. The form language that she and her team have been developing for Google Home and other products over the years is beautiful.
What is your favorite building and why?
The Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller. It’s an early example of architecture as a product as well as a statement on ecological design.
What is your secret talent?
Putting things in perspective—seeing the big picture as well as seeing things from others’ perspectives and empathizing with their point of view.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Take what you can from every challenge and learn from failures—don’t dwell on what went wrong, but use it as data to inform your next move! As someone who cares about the final product, I have to remember to trust that failure can be part of the process toward a positive outcome.
What is the most surprising or overlooked thing about being a product designer?
It’s easy to overlook the intensive process that goes into product design: first learning about people and their needs, finding the right problem to solve, and then iteratively addressing the problem with many concepts before landing on the final product. Jumping to a solution too soon or not creating space for divergent ideas can leave you with little room for change.