‘Love what you do and never give up’: Career advice from top architect Dara Huang

Having recognised a passion for drawing and an aptitude for geometry, architect and founder of Design Haus Liberty Dara Huang realised her natural career path would be in design. She has since gone on to found her own London-based architecture firm with clients all over the world. 

We spoke to Dara about how and why she pursued a career in architecture, as well as discussing her career highlights and creative process.

1. How did you decide to pursue a career in architecture and interior practice? 

I think architecture definitely picked me! It was a real calling. Before I could talk I was always drawing with crayons which progressed into art and I was also very good at maths and geometry. When it came to picking a professional career, architecture allowed me to utilise all these skills so it was an obvious choice. 

Image Credit: Dara Huang

Image Credit: Dara Huang

2. What career path did you follow in order to pursue this passion?

After getting my Masters degree in architecture from Harvard my aspiration was to work for the best practices in the world. After I had achieved this I then downsized so I could learn how to run an office. It just felt the obvious next step to set up my own studio in London. 

3. In terms of founding your own businesses, what are the challenges and highlights of doing so?

The biggest initial challenge is trying to gain client’s trust without a built portfolio and trying to support yourself with no working capital. It is very important to balance the creative process with the business/ financial side to ensure growth.  

There are a number of highlights to creating Design Haus Liberty: Having clients who are truly happy and inspired by the spaces we have created, and seeing how a design can change someone’s life or improve the working life of an office. It’s also very gratifying to be recognised by peers and the market; seeing my work in print and winning awards and getting personal recommendations. Obviously none of this would be possible without building a great team to share views. 

South Bank Tower lounge

Image Credit: Dara Huang

4. Where do you start when approaching a new project, and how does this develop throughout?

 If it’s for a developer we’ll start with an analysis of where the scheme is and what is appropriate for the area. For private clients we’ll ask their goals and aspirations and lifestyle choices and then drill down to how to get the most out of a space or particular site. We approach each space differently as its important to maximise the potential of each individual project. We then start our creative analysis which is how an identity begins to be formed. 

Analog Folk fit-out and interiors by Design Haus Liberty, London

Image Credit: Dara Huang

5. What are some of the influences in your design style?

Art, different time periods, culture and materials. In terms of architecture it has to be Herzog and de Meuron and Joseph Dirand for interiors. I also take inspiration from fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent. 

Image Credit: Dara Huang

Image Credit: Dara Huang

6. What advice would you give for someone looking to pursue a similar career path?

Love what you do and never give up!  

7. And finally, what have been your career highlights thus far? 

A rapidly growing, really talented studio with satisfied repeat clients. Accolades from the press and my peers and winning awards is always nice! In particular it was a real honour to be recently listed by Property Week in its ’40 under 40’ rising stars in property.

Now what?