We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Sheft and John Farrace and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Alex Sheft, what do you attribute your success to?
Architecture, at the scale we operate, tends to be very intimate in both a literal sense – we’re working on people’s private residences & boutique businesses – but also in the relationship we have with clients. Sometimes our residential projects can take upwards of several years and you end up spending a lot of time with clients, their partners, their kids – and ultimately you want to make sure anyone you spend that much time with is enjoyable to be around and someone you consider a friend by the end of it.

A lot of times, architecture firms tend to consider projects on the basis of the architecture only – Is this aesthetically in-line with what we do? Is the budget available for our vision? Is this the type of project we want to work on? We find that instead, asking questions like — Would we get along with this client? Do they share the same passion for design as us? Can we have an interpersonal relationship?– yields a better outcome.

Of course the aesthetics & architecture itself matters – but if we can work well with our clients and share a common vision & values – we find that not only will everyone remember the entire experience positively, but the work will be reflective of that and be better off because of it.

A lot of our client’s have done multiple projects with us or come through referrals from past clients and we attribute that to not only doing the obvious – high-quality architecture – but also making sure that we’re going to get along on a personal level with everyone before accepting a job.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Talks of starting a firm had been stewing since about 2017 when we were both working together at Standard Architecture. At the time we were sitting in a coffee shop one evening, thinking – ‘of course we can do this, we’ve worked here for 3 years, know everything there is to know, time to go for it’.

Ultimately – that’s not really how it worked (and it turns out there was a lot more to know & learn and always is). We ended up staying at Standard for another 2 years before going to work in different fields for a couple years (John – Interior Design, Alex – Construction). Branching out in those different directions really gave us the additional perspective that sets Sheft Farrace apart from other small firms.

We’ve worked as architects, interior designers, general contractors, & owner’s reps – so when we’re doing a project we can come at it from all angles and question our work from the perspective of these other various team members. This allows us to create very cohesive projects with less road-bumps than if we had not anticipated what – say – a contractor might have interpreted from our design.

We’re most excited about breaking ground on some of our long term projects. We have a few that we started designing right at the inception of our business and just recently received building permits and are ready to begin construction. We’ve always been into built-work and getting things out of the computer – so seeing a few projects come-to-life at the same time could not be more exciting!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Alex: This is a tough one – I’ve always maintained LA is a terrible place for a vacation – anyone who comes for a few days leaves saying they ‘saw The Getty, ate In-N-Out, and sat on the 405 for 6 hours’. I think I’d condense it into a 24-hour-LA-east side-sprint — Start out the day early with coffee (shoutout SPL in Ktown); go up to explore the San Gabriel Mountains; come down into the SGV for lunch (shoutout Kang Kang Food Court); catch a gallery or two in the Arts District (shoutout Night Gallery) and second coffee (shoutout Eightfold); catch sunset at the best, tiny park in LA, Everett Park; get a real multi-hour dinner nearby at the newly opened Pizzeria Bianco (shoutout Chris Bianco); and then catch an after-hours DJ set nearby somewhere south of the 10 – a real 24-hour LA sprint, and then they can fly out!

John: I am unapologetically nostalgic of LA’s car culture, even though I’m too young to have ever experienced it at its best…If you’re here for just a week, I’m a fan of breadth, not depth.

Day 1: Fly into LAX, rent a car and head to DTLA and take the 105 to 110 (shoutout LaLa Land for the best view of LA on the 105/110 overpass), grab lunch in the Arts District (shoutout Zinc Cafe – Alex and I have lunch there almost everyday), skip Hollywood and head to Santa Monica for drinks/dinner at the Proper Hotel. Rent an Airbnb in Santa Monica as home-base.
Day 2: Silverlake/Echo Park
Day 3: Pasadena
Day 4: Disneyland
Day 5: Santa Barbara
Day 6: Malibu
Day 7: Palm Springs – Fly out of Burbank.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
John & Alex: I think we’ve got a few shout outs here – we both worked for half a decade for Jeff Allsbrook & Silvia Kuhle of Standard Architecture who definitely helped shape our design aesthetic & architectural skills. We were both fresh out of school and this was really our first long-term job and they both put a high level of trust in us – taught us the ropes, gave us high-quality projects, and really cut us loose to have at it – truly an amazing learning experience.

John: After my time at Standard I had the privilege of working for Nicole Gordon, a phenomenal interior designer based in LA, and a designer I now collaborate with. I definitely can’t articulate the extent and range of her extraordinary qualities and abilities in a couple sentences – she’s a talented designer, entrepreneur and institution, but most of all, has an inherent compassionate nature towards others that directly translates to designs with a deeply thoughtful consideration of clients’ every need. While this level of attention-to-detail can feel idiosyncratic at times, all of Nicole’s projects end up both functional and beautiful but also unexpected and unique. We try to incorporate that detailed approach to our practice, projects and clients as well.

Alex & John: Finally, we want to give a shout out to all of our client’s for trusting a new & small firm with the design of some of their most important spaces. It always takes a huge leap of faith to go with the new kid on the block, but you did just that, and so we are extremely grateful.

Website: www.sheftfarrace.com

Instagram: @sheftfarrace

Image Credits
Tanner James and Sheft Farrace

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