Duos: Maria Filar & Marselle Jimenez on collaboration and embracing equity.

Maria Filar and Marselle Jimenez
Maria Filar, Senior Interior Designer & Marselle Jimenez, Interior Designer in the London Studio.

As part of International Women’s Day 2023, we are proud to share stories, experiences, and voices from empowered women across our Global Studio.
The power duo, Senior Interior Designer, Maria Filar and Interior Designer, Marselle Jimenez, work in Woods Bagot’s London studio and each play a key role within the wider team beyond interiors. They talk about their shared experiences post-Covid, their collaborative dynamic when it comes to residential projects in East London, and what #EmbraceEquity means to them.

Maria Filar, Senior Interior Designer.

Marselle Jimenez, Interior Designer.

Tell us about yourself and your role at Woods Bagot.

Maria: I’ve started with W-B in July 2021 to support the London lifestyle Interior Design team. Since then, I’ve been provided with so many amazing opportunities to work across different sectors and W-B studios. I am part of our Global Impact Group and have a strong focus on sustainability and well-being in the built environment. 

Marselle:  I am originally from the Dominican Republic and I’ve lived in London for the past 6 years. I am an Interior Designer at W-B and have had the chance to work on some amazing projects from workplace design to hospitality. I am part of the Technical Innovation team and look after improvements and implementation of new technologies for the interiors team.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is ‘Embrace Equity’ and we have heard from a range of people from different studios, roles and backgrounds what that means to them. Can you tell us what ‘Embrace Equity’ means to you and your experiences with equity?

Maria: For me it is about creating conditions for one to reach their full potential and recognizing it may mean something completely different for me than it does to someone else. In order to achieve equal outcome (be successful in our field) we might need different resources and opportunities. Equity is about recognizing our strengths and weaknesses and embracing the diversity in order for everyone to thrive!

Marselle: Equity means giving fair opportunities. To me, this has presented itself by embracing my career path.  I started my professional life in Graphic Design and wasn’t until my master’s degree that I chose to pursue interiors. Some might see this progression as having happened late and not very ‘pure’, but I have learned to embrace the different experiences and knowledge as an advantage. The fact that W-B has ‘dynamic careers’ as part of its values makes me feel more confident as I am not expected to conform to idealised standards that don’t apply to everyone in the same way. 

London Studio Interiors Team

The team in the Woods Bagot London studio.

Can you tell us about your experience collaborating with each other?

Maria: We have started working at W-B within two weeks from each other. And it was this weird, post-covid, hybrid working time. So, I think we bonded over this unique experience. I guess by the time we were on the same project we were already close friends.  It was easy from the start. I feel we complement each other and get great results working together.

Marselle:  We have worked together in a few projects now and the dynamic is always new and interesting. Even though Maria is senior, I have had the chance to lead her in some stages and the collaboration has never felt heavy on the hierarchy. 

Regardless of the role and responsibilities, it’s all about complementing and supporting each other to get the best result possible. I also find it good that we have different styles and taste, and that makes us push each other and try different things from what we would normally do. 

What has working together on interior projects in London taught you?

Maria: For me, the opportunity to work on UK schemes was one of the main reasons to move to W-B in the first place. It is good to know the context very well – and we put a lot of focus on the narrative – so that’s easier when you can visit the site and experience the local flavour. And it is amazing to be able to observe the designs come to life.

Marselle:  London is a very busy city and its always welcoming new people in. Whilst working on the residential market, we have found that it is a priority to make these developments feel like an approachable place and have a strong identity. It’s very important that they are real. We have practiced to let go of the use of unnecessary fuss in decoration and strip things back without compromising design. This allows for a space that is honest, warm and practical that people can make their own. 

Marselle and Maria in East London.

If you could give advice to anyone, especially young women, looking into a similar field or career path, what would you give?
 
Maria: You don’t always need to have a plan or know exactly what your next step is going to be. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s ok to allow yourself to drift every now and then. Good things will come your way.

Marselle: It is important to be true to oneself and not try to meet everyone’s expectations. Follow your intuition and don’t feel pressured to follow a path you don’t want to. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s an unvaluable source of knowledge. 

 

To reach out to Maria or Marselle, you can contact us here. 

Stay tuned for more stories celebrating women leading the way in the architecture & design industry, groundbreaking projects and celebrating #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day.

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