VoyageMIA: Meet Agustin Salas

At the end of the year, Agustin had an interview with VoyageMIA magazine. We’re excited to share the interview below, and you can visit the original link at VoyageMIA.

Photo by Javier Ospina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Agustin Salas.

Agustin, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1977. I grew up in Valencia, in the heart of a professional family, my mother a sociologist, my father an architect. I was like any other child, exposed to a lot of nature, arts, music, and sports. My parents were always passionate about Culture. Since I was a child, I was attracted to musical instruments, sound, and composition. Later these would become a form of inspiration and a sensitive way of perceiving the world. When I was 9 years old, my family decided to enroll me in the Sebastián Echeverría School of Music. There I would spend my first three years studying Music Theory. In 1988, I graduated from the Valencia Technology of Music, and a year later I enrolled in the Conservatory of Music Symphonic of Valencia. By then I was only 17 years old and had finished high school.

At the same time, my father invited me to help him draw his projects and thus have some money. At that time architecture studios drew with pencil and then with ink. There I had a big problem, I didn’t know how to draw, or make a sketch, etc. But I was always able to focus on what I wanted… I formalized a year-long study to become a Technical Draftsman and thus be able to help my father. That is when I began to immerse myself in the world of design and sound. And I realized I could be an architect even if I couldn’t draw. Inspired by my two great passions, music and design, in 1998 I decide to move to Merida where I studied in a five-year degree program and graduated in the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts at the (ULA) University of Los Andes, Venezuela, obtaining the title of Architect with honors.

In 2004, obsessed with Architecture, Design, Music, and Fine Arts, I decided to experience the world and move to the United States to continue my graduate studies. In the process, I was able to live and experience cities across the USA and fell in love with the amount of diversity and colorful cultures in cities like New York, where I had the opportunity to work with incredible designers, and Miami, where I found my home base. Florida being a coastal environment so close to the Caribbean, the tropical climate that fills the city with good breezes, sea, and light offers many ideas similar to those I experienced growing up in Venezuela surrounded by nature.

Subsequently, I had the opportunity to attend the course Design Sustainable Houses at Harvard University’s The Graduate School of Design in Boston, Massachusetts, driven by the ideas of recycling, well-being, green architecture, biodiversity, equality, social architecture, and diversity, etc. and to keep going deeper, promoting, and disseminating actions that show that our world must necessarily be sustainable.

After some years and looking for alternative answers to the issue of transitory or moving housing, I did a Postgraduate program in Container Architecture Design at the College of Biologists of Peru, and after that, I was accepted at the UPC, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, in the Postgraduate Program of Bioclimatic Architecture so that the transition through architecture from the purely conceptual, aesthetic, functional and social point of view led to a much broader universe, where I found regenerative design as a methodology for a more holistic vision of the Contemporary Architecture that our world needs today, given that life on the planet is facing a global emergency.

Meanwhile, my journey through music has continued organically. I have felt very blessed to have participated in various bands, where I have had the opportunity to collaborate and compose unforgettable musical works with very talented people, sound geniuses with whom I have built ties of brotherhood.

Currently, “The Alchemistry” is my home, a constant investigation of sounds inspired by atmospheric waves, psychedelic, pop, rock, electronic, dream pop, and experiential sounds are the most marked influences of our sound. The band founded with my brother Abraham Salas, Audio Engineer, Drummer, and Composer, graduated from the Faculty of Letters of the Universidad de Los Andes, he is the co-author of the work that we create in The Alchemistry. We have also collaborated with incredible musicians, like Andres Mara, Henry Arias, Daniel Garcia, and the Grammy-award-winning artist Carlos Imperatori as our producer.

Since 2004 I have been involved in collaborations with multiple design teams, Architectural Design firms, and important and renowned companies in the United States. Working with clients that have global reputations for excellence and development, a wide range of international projects, and design contests with expertise spanning across the field of Master Planning, Architecture, and Interior design. Today I lead design teams responsible for the design conception, development, and implementation of high-rise residential, mixed-use, commercial and retail projects.

In 2018, I founded along with my wife, Karin Dax—Award-winning Interior Designer and Planner—the design studio Aire + Partners. While I continue working as a Senior Designer & Senior Associate at Stantec Miami, I focus on creating innovative design solutions unique to the project’s local context. As a creator, I deliver award-winning architecture and am involved in all aspects of projects. Having dedicated myself for the last decade to Stantec, a global engineering and architectural design firm with over 26,000 employees operating out of more than 400 locations in North America and across offices on six continents, this experience has given me a wide view of a practice that is committed to our communities, to our people, and our environment.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Well, if you grow up in Venezuela, you will naturally develop some traction because it is not a smooth terrain everywhere. Our topography has so many organic variations that make you appreciate the irregularities that you discover during your journey.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Music naturally led me to design, so I have been a designer since 2002. I like to tell stories, like a writer, and design is my channel to communicate and represent ideas, and those ideas and stories come to life. At this particular moment in time, I see Architectural Designers as three-dimensional storytellers, our practice must be at the service of the well-being of humanity, and this requires everyone’s effort.

Design is a methodology that produces constant changes in our society. We have the responsibility to always create a positive impact, that is why I maintain an idealistic vision of life. Architecture and design should naturally envelop the human being. We can’t create a disconnection otherwise we are moving to an artificial world. We must embrace design as a force for transformation, as a path to evolve our fears and transform that energy into love. “Architecture is frozen music” Goethe

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
Miami Beach is a city surrounded by water… The tropical environment and the climate are the beauty of the southeast coast of Florida. That is something I find incredibly inspiring. Being in touch with the water as often as one can is like a natural meditation and energizing experience. What I would love to see in our city are fewer golf courses and more shared green spaces and parks that provide a natural social context.

Contact Info:

Image Credits: Javier Ospina, Stantec, Agustin Salas