Agatha Habjan, LEED AP, Principal
Agatha Habjan founded Habjan Architecture and Interior Design, LLC in 2009 as a means to bring her client-centered approach to design to the next level. Her work, which has always said more about her clients and their aspirations than about her and her own, has found in this new practice, a more natural outlet for her bespoke design.
Prior to launching her own firm, Habjan served as a Principal and the Design Director of Interiors at Swanke Hayden Connell Architects in New York City. Responsible for the design of all interior commissions for the US practice, she led projects for such clients as; Reuters, Moody's, Brown Brothers Harriman and North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital.
Her work has been featured in national and trade magazines such as; Interior Design Magazine, Grid, Metropolis, Contract and Buildings Magazine, among others and her designs have garnered several Society of Registered Architects awards. A LEED accredited professional, Ms. Habjan holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute.
Vanessa Betancourt, RA, LEED AP, Principal
Vanessa joined the firm in 2011 and has been instrumental in the success of a wide range of projects from high-end residences to large-scale corporate interiors, including the 300,000sf fit-out for Brown Brothers Harriman in Boston. Prior to joining Habjan Design, Vanessa worked at major firms including Swanke Hayden Connell, HLW, and Gardiner and Theobald. Vanessa's extensive experience in Design, Design/Build, Construction Management, and Owner's Representation have helped her develop a deep understanding of the concerns and challenges of projects from the point of view of all parties involved. Vanessa is a highly effective manager, an insightful leader and a strong advocate for her clients with a proven track record of driving projects to completion.
Throughout my career, there have been two common threads that connect and define my Interior Designs; A Strong Architectural Approach and Strong Client Relationships. Together, these shape a consistent and rigorous process that yields a wide variety of custom-tailored design solutions.
Every project begins with a period of learning and thoughtful analysis - from program requirements to the base building and project budget. I view this data through the lens of my experience, but without preconceptions or "formulas" in mind. Just as the best architecture has a strong connection to its site, I believe the most successful interior design is rooted in an understanding of, and response to, its context - the base building itself. A thorough analysis of the many unique opportunities and constraints of the base building - from floorplate size and shape to views - is a crucial first step towards a tailored solution.
Analysis is followed by the development of the "big idea" that will drive the design - the concept. The concept is critical to the success of the project on many levels, since it will inform the myriad design solutions that are required throughout the life of the project - from large spatial gestures and organization to the finest detailing. The "big idea" establishes a hierarchy in which the selection of colors, textures and furniture should reinforce the volumes and sequence of spaces, which in turn support the larger concept.
A clear and appropriate concept ensures a unified design that can move forward efficiently with a clear vision and purpose. Without a strong concept, a design is like a boat at sea without a rudder.
Finally, I believe that innovative design is derived from the natural process of exploring solutions for clients' particular needs. It is not born from trends or showmanship. Unlike many interior designers, whose ideas spring from random sources of inspiration and whimsy, my ideas are inspired by my clients.
Although the process that I employ is constant, the base buildings, programs and most importantly - the clients are all unique. I recognize and embrace the fact that this range of clients, each with their own particular vision, needs and expectations creates exciting opportunities and variety in my work. Since I employ no design formula, it is listening to a client that is typically the basis for the "big idea." Successfully translating a client's program and vision into a three dimensional space is the physical proof that I have understood them and their aspirations.
I have been fortunate to have had many strong client relationships based on mutual respect and a true commitment to the project that have allowed both client and designer to challenge one another in a search for the best solutions. Creating architectural interiors that support our clients' business goals, help them prosper and recruit and retain their employees is our design responsibility. Creating compelling environments that exceed their expectations and perhaps interpret their vision in ways they have not considered is my design goal and our standard of design excellence.
Commitment to Sustainable Design
In the last several years, we have witnessed a growing commitment to Sustainable Design from both the client side and the design community. This increasing awareness of our responsibility to the quality of our environment - both indoors and out - has motivated clients and designers to integrate sustainable design features into all aspects of projects and has greatly expanded the palette of green materials and products available on the market.
Our approach to "Green Design" is based on collaboration between our clients and the design team. By understanding the nature of a particular project and the client's interest in having their project LEED certified, we tailor our approach to meet their goals and stay on target and on budget. By preparing a LEED matrix early in the design process, we are able to identify and track opportunities for LEED points and estimate associated costs.
Much of what is considered Green Design" is simply today's "best practice." Research has demonstrated that Green Design can improve productivity and reduce operational costs. With that in mind we present clients with simple space planning exercises that allow more people to benefit from access to natural light without compromising headcounts or adjacency needs. Strategies, such as solar control, energy efficient lighting and "green" materials can typically be integrated seamlessly into a project. The days when a Green Design looked and felt "compromised" and "burdened" by sustainable features are behind us. Green Design is now fully integrated into our process and our built work.