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Industry Happenings, Designer Voice

Designer Voices: Gender, Community, and Collaboration with Francine Monaco


Francine Monaco is a renowned architect and one of the co-founders of progressive architecture firm, D’Aquino Monaco, whose international client list includes residential, hospitality, and commercial spaces.  An Interior Design Hall of Fame inductee, Francine merges design excellence with an understanding of each clients’ individual needs to create spaces that are impressive, immersive and unique.

Francine recently participated in a panel conversation, co-hosted by Fuigo and the Female Design Council, on Community, Collaboration and the Creative Process.  While she was in the Fuigo Studio we sat down with her to learn more about some of the important women who have inspired her work and how community plays a role in her approach to collaborators and clients. 



As AN incredibly renowned architect, can you tell us about some of the women who have inspired you throughout your career?

The first person that comes to mind is Ann Kalla, who I started working for just 2 years out of architecture school.  She is someone who instilled in me this kind of devotion to a preciseness and an understanding of all the tectonics that go into architecture and creating the spaces that we design.  That level of attention, as my own practice has grown, has expanded into interiors and decorating.  She’s the single person that I’d tag.

If I wanted to list the rest of the women of who have inspired me, I’d start with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and go down a list that includes renowned architects and designers like Dorothy Draper.  There’s a really long list of women who inspire me.  Some of them lost their place in history because they were hidden behind some of the male masters.  I think these women are now finding their place as we’re collectively growing the amount of attention we pay to the roles that women have actually played in the field.  Eileen Gray is one example of a women who is now moving up in stature and Charlotte Perriand is another.  We can get really involved.

Who are some of the female artisans you're excited to collaborate with at this current time of your career?

Since our practice is diverse in that it spans architecture, interiors and decorating, we have the opportunity to work with a lot of different types of artisans.  Someone we’ve dealt with a lot recently is Karen Atta.  She has a studio that does custom resin work.  Her own creativity has made these products that are just amazing, but what she allows you to do with them - by taking them and giving them your own form and your own attitude - is just a dream.  We’ve recently finished two collaborations with her.  On the other end of the spectrum we have people like Angela Brown, who are fabric dealers with fabric houses that have a wonderful, diverse array of fabrics.  We turn to these women as resources often.  We also recently met with Judy Ross who has a line of the most unbelievably exquisite hand embroidered fabrics that my colleagues and I were fawning over.  I think those three examples speak to a good spectrum of what we do.

How DO YOU Specifically define community and what does that ethos mean to you?

Community begins in our office.  We are a small office.  We are family, with members that have been a part of our team for different lengths of time and we behave like a family.  We respect each other and the work and talents that each person brings to the office.  I think that level of respect and appreciation for each other is how we extend ourselves to others outside of the office as well. That’s how community grows I believe.

How has community impacted the work that you've done?

I would look to our clients.  Because our work is mostly high-end residential, it is very personal and bespoke.  What we ask of our clients and what I think they appreciate about our relationship with them, is that we want them to let us understand who they are.  By us understanding them and not asking them to design or tell us specifically what they want - we can create something that is bigger, better and beyond where they thought they could go.


*Small copy edits were made to support readability and clarity 


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