We had the good fortune of connecting with Sona Gevorkyan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sona, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?

What makes you happy? Why? I think this year we all had to re-evaluate what makes us happy. We started appreciating what we already have and realized we’ve been taking a lot of things for granted. But here are top 5 things that make me happy now: 1. Lists – this is true actually, I used to dread spreadsheets, mainly because I didn’t know how to use excel, but this year I have gotten proficient in Google spreadsheets and it made my life so much more organized, hence easier. Highly recommend to those who like organization. 2. Family, friends and knowing that they are well and healthy. I am sure this is something everyone can relate to. 3. Peace. This year while we had too much going on in the world, something that was not reported on the news was the war in Armenia, where I am originally from. This war lasted for 44 days and it was one of the most emotionally draining experiences my community and I have ever gone through. So, I definitely have newfound appreciation for peace, something I have been taking for granted. 4. Sunshine. I know drought is a problem in California, and rain is good for LA, but sunshine is the second reason why I moved to LA (I have a list for this too). It just feels like the possibilities are endless when the sun is out. 5. Seeing my projects come to life. A typical construction project starts with design, which is fun, but part of this process is to figure out all the code logistics and getting permits, which can be not so fun if it gets too complicated. Then when the construction starts, it gets really ugly before it gets pretty. There is dirt, studs exposed, dust everywhere, pipes, wires and all the other inventory from the hardware store. Then, when drywall is installed and the paint gets applied, it’s like sunshine after 3 weeks of rain in February: tiles and fixtures get installed, finishes applied, details configured, and you start seeing what you envisioned come to life. That’s what makes me happy!

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?

I started my office SGAO in 2015. Sometimes I hire people if it gets busy, sometimes I partner with others on bigger projects, but mostly it’s just me. This is the challenging part. As an architect I am trained to be a designer, but I must put on many different hats and be my own marketing director, CFO, assistant, mean boss, etc. What is exciting is that there is a lot of potential for growth and many possibilities to constantly reinvent. What I offer now, is an interdisciplinary approach to design, for example: an integrated attitude towards architecture and interiors. I can propose not only the design of the core and shell, or just the interiors but both (and more) to produce a cohesive environment. The variety of different projects as well as different hats I wear keep me busy and motivated.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

My best friend came to visit me in LA last March; this was right before the virus turned into a pandemic. He told me that visiting this time changed his perception of Los Angeles. No surprise there, because I was the tour guide this time :). I asked him before he came if he prefers the city or nature and his response was one of the main reasons why we are best friends: the city. I took him to my favorite areas: downtown, art district, Little Tokyo. What I love about Los Angeles is that it is not homogenous. Of course, some of this non-uniformity is due to ugly reasons: segregation and income inequality, but the multicultural fabric of the city allows one to travel from one neighborhood to another and feel as though they are in another country. This is very convenient in a pandemic. For example, if you go to Glendale, you will see signs in Armenian, shops and produce that are very authentic. Sometimes, I can get Armenian things in Glendale that I could not get as easily in Armenia anymore. And since I am talking about Glendale, here are a few places you must try: 1. Papillon Bakery – try their ponchik, which is what they are known for, also try Kachapuri, Lahmajun (Armenian pizza) 2. Zhengyalov Hatz – it’s a vegan flatbread, originally from the Artsakh region. I also love their akroshka, which is a yogurt drink with cucumbers 3. Karas – this place is very authentic to Armenia specifically. (There are many kinds of Armenian food because there are many different kinds or Armenians). The menu has so many items that it’s hard to pick one thing so it’s a good idea to share with a few people and order a variety of main and side dishes. 4. Khinkali House – Khinkali is a Georgian dish, but Armenians know how to take something and give proper credit (most of the time). There are only two different kinds here: boiled and fried. You can order from all the places on this list for pickup or delivery, but this place is best for dining in because you need to ask the waiter for instructions on how to eat khinkali properly. Bari akhorjak! (bon appetit) Now that I listed all the above, I am considering a career as a food critic.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

Shoutout to my family! Family is one of the things I have even more appreciation for after 2020’s many unpleasant events. My mom has always been my rock. She supported me my whole life in many ways, always showing me how proud she is every step I took. My sisters (I have 3). My oldest sister, Anna, is only two years older than me, but she is like another mother figure to me. She is always there to comfort and offer support, even for things she disagrees on. Silva and Lilit are younger than me (by 8 and 10 years) but they are much wiser. They always teach me that life is short, and I should not worry about the little things. They also always check my spelling and grammar, except for this this time, because it is about them so if you find any mistakes, you know why. I also have very supportive and dedicated aunts, uncles and cousins who treat me like their daughter/sister and I can always rely on them for anything I need. It is great because they all have different professions, so I get free professional advice and support all the time, because they don’t have a choice.

Instagram: @sgao_la @sona_gevorkyan

Image Credits
Jasmine Davis, Tigran Nersisian

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