We recently caught up with Dallas-based Dulce Torres, an emerging design leader with a passion for creating innovative, wellness-enhancing healthcare facilities at home and abroad. She shared with us some of her passions, inspirations, and what she’d be doing if architecture didn’t catch her fancy from a young age.
What is your role at Perkins+Will?
I am healthcare leader for the Latin American market, helping expand our design practice along the region. It is an exciting and thrilling responsibility which implies a wide range of challenges, but it is highly gratifying.
I have been involved in international design since 2000, working in the disciplines of sports and recreation, urban design, hospitality, and healthcare, which is now my specialty. Designing and offering Perkins+Will’s expertise in Latin America has been an extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with clients and local architects, questioning and implementing new paradigms and ways of designing and building. For me, this is absolutely rewarding.
I have a passion for understanding new cultures and different ways of operating. Our clients are who I live for every day. The commitment of designing and building a hospital that a “country has never seen before” -as a client in Trinidad and Tobago described their situation – is what drives me to continually fulfill the professional vows I made when I became a registered architect.
What are your workspace must-haves?
I believe the magic happens in collaboration, that it is through knowledge exchange and collaboration that we can truly innovate. My workspace is an open station which allows for communication and collaboration. I like to keep a map at my desk as a graphic tool to refer to our past, current and (hopefully) future projects and clients. White board, computer, notebooks, marketing brochures, sketches, and plans are constant items you can find at my desk. I have a 4-wheel briefcase, which everyone confuses with a suitcase. This is my mobile office when I travel.
What’s your most coveted design object?
La Chaise is one of my most coveted design objects. It was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1948, inspired by the ‘Floating Figure’ sculpture by Gaston Lachaise (a play on words – ‘la chaise’ means ‘chair’ in French). To my eye, the chair is a sculpture on its own: it is simple yet complicated. It’s easy to recognize at first glance but there is much to discover once you approach and use it, since it allows for any number of sitting and reclining positions. I love the mixture of beauty, simplicity, and anticipated complexity in this one object.
Which designer do you most admire, and why?
Luis Barragán, Mexican architect, Pritzker Prize winner. His goal was to “cooperate in the great task of dignifying human life by the trails of beauty and help to build a dam against the waves of dehumanization and vulgarity”.
I highly admire the simplicity and complexity that coexist in Barragán’s design. Barragán strove for an “emotional architecture.” His architecture expresses serenity and beauty, always using raw materials such as stone or wood. He combined those with his incredibly creative use of light (where colors, lattice, and wall depths and heights became the canvas and brushes to mold light as he desired). Open space, gardens, roof gardens and water bodies were constantly present in his design.
What’s your dream project – real or imagined?
One of my favorite projects is the house and studio of Luis Barragan (declared a World Heritage Site in 2004). It is one of those pieces of architecture in which the designer truly owned the space-time and plays with your senses and emotions.
If you weren’t at your position at Perkins+Will, what would you do instead?
I would love to be part of the United Nations or UNESCO, starting an innovation design team that contributes to peace, sustainable design, and the positive transformation of society.
What lesson would you share with the next generation of designers?
Never take “no” as an answer. We are our own limitation. If you think you are incapable of doing something, you will be incapable. But if you think you can do it, you will do it. We just have to work hard and believe in ourselves. We can be our best friends or our worst enemies.
In ten words or less, why does design matter?
Because design can truly transform people’s lives!