June 6, 2022
Specify Hot List: Fauzia Khanani
FK: Coming from a background in sociology, I think about most things from a research and data standpoint. Research and engagement were fundamental parts of my previous career, and I’ve tried to carry that over into my architectural practice.
This manifests in spending significantly more time with clients before we delve into design. We try to learn their current needs, what’s working and what’s not, and how we can best plan for their future. We do this information gathering via interviews, focus groups, workshops, and observing and spending time with them in their respective space. The most important part of this process is relationship building with clients and stakeholders, which creates a space for us to learn from each other and to subsequently create a design process that is collaborative and inclusive.
Specify: Please tell us about your process for vetting products.
FK: Whether it’s vendors, collaborators, consultants, or even clients, the first thing we look for is a set of shared values. Our core values are based on tenets of change, collaboration, care, and craft. We often try to identify whether our collaborators are acting as agents for change in the industry with regard to diversity and inclusion internally and externally. Or if they are putting forth sustainable practices—not only in their products but their processes as well. A really important question we ask is “Will they be a good collaborator that is invested in working with our team and supporting our ethos?”
Specify: In what ways is the process collaborative?
FK: We strive to have our clients alongside us every step of the way in the design process, whether it’s helping us develop the best ways to collect information and initial concepts, or designing specific elements of a project. We want the whole team, which includes clients, to feel ownership in the process and final product.
Specify: Can you share some specific ways you’ve supported inclusivity in your firm and the practice at large?
FK: Within Studio Fōr, the majority of our team has historically been women and BIPOC, while also spanning four generations from an age perspective. We come from various backgrounds with some being immigrants, some first-generation Americans, and others whose families have been in this country for many generations. This kind of diversity not only brings a richness to our internal relationships and conversations, but also influences our external relationships and practice by offering a multitude of perspectives and considerations. Inevitably, this also provides a certain synergy to clients.
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