Alla Kazovsky

Multi-tasking architect, blogger and creativity coach Alla Kazovsky speaks to the integration of her own work at home, the strong influence of family and “engaging the architect within.”

My life’s overarching goal has been to build an environment that instills confidence as much as nurtures creativity of my children. The objective has always been to provide adequate room to grow with lots of choices along the way.

In 1991, for example, as a pregnant architect setting up my own child’s nursery I could not find much in terms of furnishings that respected the intelligence and sophistication I envisioned human beings possessed from day one. Thus, it was only natural to develop a product line of multi-functional modern furniture and accessories for children, some of which are available through New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Specializing in design for children enabled me to enlist my daughters as collaborators and expert consultants. For instance, as I worked on the Discovery Carts for the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, both daughters, Mia and Nastya, were prototyping and learning with me. We playfully gained new appreciation for the beauty of gardens while producing three site-specific portable educational stations to engage children in learning about the institution through age-appropriate hands-on activities.

When I found our dream house as a run-down distressed cabin with a 200-bush rose garden, my husband was very skeptical. It was quite a leap to imagine the potential weighing in functional and aesthetic considerations. I completely renovated the home’s interiors, opening the kitchen, creating a dining room and powder room, and expanding the bathrooms. It was an exercise in merging of old and new—in building, design, and attitude. By marrying new with existing elements I was able to create an ideal environment that offers a fluid variety of spaces to enjoy depending on the mood. I saw obstacles and constraints as opportunities to invent project-specific solutions, such as a free-standing swimming pool on sloping land, or an underground bath house.

And then, it dawned on me that I have been subconsciously designing not only our house, but our life, as if it were an architectural project. Admittedly, being your own client has been extremely gratifying, enabling me to take the time, to experiment, and to correct mistakes while considering every little-yet significant-detail!

As my kids grew, I took up Creativity Coaching in order to continue to have influence in their lives. At that point, I became increasingly interested in psychological impact of architecture and began writing a book that pairs self-help and design with a premise that anyone can “construct” their own life or “engage the architect within.” I began blogging on the Huffington Post to give me the opportunity to regularly share my thoughts on the subject and to test the concepts while gaining a voice. To me, engaging the architect within is a matter of mindset — openness to begin before knowing the solution, awareness of different scales, and ability to move back and forth from an over-all concept to a small detail while constantly asking questions.

However, acknowledgement and validation that I get from my daughters is most valuable. I am lucky; recently Nastya admitted that our garden “is a hugely inspiring place for her.” And I heard Mia tell someone: “My mother created our house to be a place for our family to live, work, and grow up. Due to her encouragement and inspiration, I grew up as an artist, just like her.”