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Expert Interview Series: Architect and Yacht Designer Svetlana Mojic Dzakula on Advanced Training for Architects

Advanced training in architecture

Svetlana Mojić Džakula is an award-winning architect and yacht designer with Salt & Water, which  in residential and commercial architecture, interior design, as well as yacht design and aircraft interiors. Their mission is to improve people’s lives by developing high-end spaces and premium products, focusing on developing solutions to advance the client’s well-being, we focus on functionality and comfort.

We recently checked in with Svetlana to get her insight on the value of advanced training in architecture and design for professionals in those fields today. Here’s what she shared:

How did you become interested in designing unconventional spaces like yachts and aircraft interiors?

I was a member of the Serbian Sailing team for over a decade, and being on water presents a significant part of my life that I absolutely love. After gaining a Specialized Master’s degree in Yacht Design & Construction, I got an amazing opportunity to approach vessels both as a user and a designer. I realized there are niches in this profession with many opportunities for further progress. One of them is the boathouse development for inland waters. As a team, we worked on several interesting projects of this type. Our award-winning project of the Floating Hotel with Catamaran Apartments definitely proved that. Regarding our work on the aircraft interiors, I have to admit that our journey in this field of work began as kind of coincidence. Yet, thanks to our experience in designing naval interiors, we were ready for this challenge. Designing aircraft and yacht interiors rely on the same logic, and we loved the change.

What’s your educational background? What types of specialized training have you pursued during your career?

First I gained a Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Novi Sad, my home town. I also attended the specialization program of Yacht Design at the Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg. The course was held by Lars Larson, one of the greatest professionals in the industry. This experience was great and I learned a lot. After that, I won a scholarship for Istituto Europeo di Design. My course was based in Venice where I spent a year gaining a specialized Master’s degree in Yacht Design and Construction.

What are some of the unique challenges these spaces present?

We design luxurious interiors where the chosen textures and materials play a significant role in the final design. The even greater challenge is to create luxurious spaces that stand in harmony with the surrounding landscape. This way, these interiors present logical frames of nature. With our designs, we’re trying to complement the environment rather than conquer it. We strive to enhance the quality of every location and its genius loci. Yet, most importantly, these designs should please the client’s aesthetic preferences, needs, and requests. This makes our job a bit more demanding, but also very interesting.

What is the demand right now for architects in your niche? What predictions do you have for the future demand for architects and designers of less conventional spaces?

Clients today are looking for objects that are connected with nature on all levels, as well as the adaptable spaces to fit all their needs. Today people live busy lives. They are in a constant hurry, which is exactly why they need the dynamic architectural solutions to provide them peace and connection with nature. This may sound like two opposite things, but through our projects, we have shown that those requirements are, in fact, complementary. They do not exclude each other.

What types of specialized training have you needed to do the types of work you do better?

In our field of work, we need to keep an eye on new materials and other innovations in the industry. Besides that, there are many other types of training crucial for our field of work that is not included in architecture studies. One of them is communication science and the other is psychology. When working with clients, first we need to understand their needs and personalities. And only after we find a mutual language,  can we start working on the design. Finally, being in touch with technological innovations in our field of work is of the utmost importance, especially now when everything is changing so fast. We have to be ready for updates in software we use, innovations in the field of VR, etc.

Why should engineers and architects today pursue advanced training and certification in their fields?

Our profession is changing very fast and every day we get more and more opportunities to create new solutions that are more suited to the needs of our clients. This is why we need to upgrade our knowledge whenever an opportunity arises.

What types of advanced training do you think is most beneficial in these fields today? What areas would you like to see more of these professionals have a grasp of?

It all depends on the niche you are working in. One of the “rules” in our studio says that we should not limit ourselves to the profession alone, but also to use the knowledge from the other complementary fields. Based on my experience, combining knowledge and achievements from different areas is what gives the best results.

What trends or innovations are you following in the world of architecture and design today? Why do they interest you?

Primarily, the development in materials we use. We also need to keep up with the latest design trends. This is why, together with my team, I try to visit as many European exhibitions and fairs as possible. However, in our projects, we tend to follow our own stylistic expression to develop classical solutions of a high quality. This is very important because most of the projects we are working on are everlasting, and they need to feel innovative and appealing in decades to come. Every single yacht we design needs to feel modern and interesting even in ten years from now. This is why our clients usually demand a universal style that will not get out of fashion that soon.

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