Martha Franco is originally from South American roots, who traveled for love and ended up in Montreal, Quebec. After a successful career in her hometown of Bogota as an Architect, she decided to follow her heart and migrate to Montreal with her now husband of over twenty years to build her career and life here. She has two children, and a beautiful marriage that is built on trust and partnership. A passionate woman who believes in the love of her craft, attention to detail and most of all to live every day to the fullest. Whether that would be spending quality time with her loved ones, or immersed in the design process of a project, it is all love to her. The story of Martha Franco.
Tell me about how you met your husband, it’s so romantic that your story goes back to your homeland.
We were initially introduced by my two sisters and just like that, we started seeing each other for a few months until he had to be relocated to Spain given his employment as a diplomat. It is only a few years later that we officially got back together after his return from Spain that we decided to get married. We got married twice actually, once in Montreal and on another occasion in my hometown of Bogota! The beauty of this love story is that even though we did not see each other for so many years, the sparkle and the attraction was just even stronger from the moment we linked up again, and we have been together since then!
So, in the beginning you were going back and forth to Bogota and Canada?
Not really, from the moment my husband and I got back together, it did not take long before he was again relocated to NYC and this time, I decided to follow him! For a few years, I was working as an architect in the city in between having my first born and living the life of a true New Yorker; I loved my life in the city! Even though I am from Colombia, I am not a tropical kind of person! I love the heat of the moment and being in a metropolitan area.
We then decided it was time to officially establish ourselves somewhere. Establishment and rooting myself was an essential element for my business and professional development. Back in the days, building a brand online and creating connections was not as easy as it is nowadays with all the possible social media outlets that exist…And then, one thing after another, we ended up moving to Montreal.
Did you start right away in architecture?
Yes, I did! I am a registered architect in Colombia. However, when I moved to Canada, I had to take every single equivalence, every exams and internships in order to be recognized as a registered architect. It took me a longer time than usual given the fact that I was trying to complete my studies in between having my second child and taking on new challenges and projects by myself.
Tell me about your career path. You’re in Montreal, you have got all your equivalences, you’re working as an architect in Canada. You developed your luxury brand and your aesthetics quickly and now you work with all the professionals and all the experts, but how did you get yourself to that point where you are established?
I come from a family that is very artistic. My sister is a photographer and my other one was a fashion designer. We have always been aware and exposed to being creative and expressive growing up and we learned a lot about caring for each other, and throughout the years, these traits ended up transcending into my profession. As an example, I am someone that is very attentive and I always care about every little inch, every single detail when it comes to putting a project together. It is when you care that the process of creation happens and blossoms. Creation is not something that falls from the tree. It is about the making, being curious, asking questions, always trying to find the optimal solution and thinking outside the box! And thankfully for me, that is how I get my inspiration and creativity and down the line, with many other things, that’s how I built my brand!
What is your favourite part of the process?
The whole thing! I enjoy every steps of the way, from the moment when we are meeting the clients for the first time to discuss about their dream house up to the point when we are placing flowers on an installation day! Whatever the scale of the project, wether it is for a small or large home, helping clients making their dream house a reality is just so inspiring! That trusting relation that you also get to create with your clients when it comes to architecture and interior design project makes it such a gift for me to be able to do that job everyday! Of course, just like in everything else, it can not always be easy…New challenges come in on the daily basis, but we learn how to navigate the process so we can deliver the best project possible for our clients.
How do you think that you’ve developed the best ways, because I don’t feel like you get stressed ever?
While stress and challenges are part of the process, I have learned throughout the years that being in the present moment is the key here. Of course, being organized is great and will help you respect your deadlines and establish your priorities. Frankly, I believe that the key here is to always be somewhat prepared and have a plan. Learn how to be in the present so you can better prepare the future and what is coming your way.
What are 3 words do you want people to think about when they think about your firm?
Timelessness. We do not follow trends. The design direction that we follow is never about any trend. Instead, we try to create interiors and exteriors that gracefully meld the timeless elegance of the past with today’s modern aesthetic. Our clients trust us in investing their money with us and that is the reality. We work on not being trendy… because as we all know, trends come and go. Instead, we work on creating classic and signature designs that will pass the test of time and will still be relevant in the next ten years.
Coherence is also the second word that comes to my mind. No matter what style we go for, whether we go for something more contemporary or modern, we always go back to this notion of character and how each person has its own individuality. Coherence is about a story line. That story line that tells us who you are. That tells your aesthetic, that reflects that particularity, that universe that you have in mind so we can better understand the needs and the direction we need to follow and help you create your dream house.
Exclusive is the third word I would say. We specialize in sensitively conceived homes where innovative architecture, luxurious furnishings and finishing coexist. We strongly believe that interiors should reflect the style and personality of its owner, not simply its designers or architects. Therefore, it is in this collaborative approach that we achieve this natural connection between the home and the owner that will correspond to our client’s personal lifestyle and make their house exclusive to them.
What inspires you?
I am very inspired by the materiality. The materiality of what this world gives us, the belief in this paradise planet where there is not only one kind of tree, but fifty thousand kinds! Same thing that applies when it comes to stone or fabric. Sometimes, simply looking at a fabric sample, touching it, feeling the texture or the pattern can help draw a design direction for a project and from then, the creativity just keeps on coming in!
During your career, that is very interesting because you’re so passionate and you love what you do and yet, you still manage to have enough balance in your life to have a beautiful relationship with your husband and your kids. Tell us a little about how you wee able to manage those three relationships so well.
Indeed! I think what made the biggest difference for me was to understand that my life is one. I understand that this could be problematic for some people, but personally there is no distinction between work and my personal life! From the very beginning, everything has always been just one…Also, every single day can be so different from one another and therefore it is just very important to go with the flow and try to create the most perfect balance possible to remain motivated and productive while still being able to enjoy the little pleasures of life!
Did you have things that you did to make sure that “okay”, after this time I don’t touch my phone or I don’t look at my emails?
When I get home, I try to put my phone away. Very rarely I will go and put myself outside a little bit. Family time has always been very sacred for me!
What about the time you have with you? Your self-care time?
For me exercising is key, keeping myself up and energized! Doing activities that make me happy. Whether its going shopping, doing my hair or getting a manicure…It is very important to be a normal person after all and when you love your profession the way that I do, it can only help! I do not have to escape from it. Many people do all those things to escape their reality for a little bit, but for me I see this from a different perspective. I have been able to put together a practice that my reality is what I have always dreamt of doing. It is always such a pleasure and I enjoy my profession so much and therefore I keep on being motivated with a strong desire to continue surpassing myself and constantly thinking about bringing this to the next level!
What are some of the future projects that you are working on now that can tell us about?
Now more than ever, homes have become a new travel destination for our clients… Right now, it is all about creating spaces for activities in your house and making the most of it. Whether it is for the addition of an interior pool for exercising or putting a sauna and steam rooms with a massage area, we are trying to create the perfect in-house home getaway…Destination gives you something that you are looking forward to do within the context of your home because we are staying more in our house and of course, office spaces have also become super important for clients and are much bigger than before.
What motivates you? What inspires you? What motivates you to do more projects and to grow your brand?
I think it is the love that I have for my profession. Again, I love what I do so much, and I have not even started from what potential I still have and from what I see. I have so many projects in my head on how to go ahead and develop this passion starting with the firm. I would really like to develop the architecture and interior design practices in the office, our social media presence and many other marketing initiatives. Even maybe one day having our own furniture line, who knows…?
What advice would you tell a young aspiring architect? Or a woman who just started and wants to start her own business in architecture?
Martha: My advice would be to always do what you love and be true to who you are. It is so important to go and explore the relationship with yourself so you can truly know and understand what you love, and what you do not! And when we are lucky enough to find that, I think that is the start to having a magnificent life. After that, the sky is the limit!
Do you find that it is more of a man’s world to be in architectural design?
It is totally a man’s universe. Imagine a woman like me with long hair, fresh manicure smelling like perfume, showing up on the site which is full of dust…That is what I do! It is a very masculine environment, but that never and will never stop me. The important element to retain here is that no matter if it happens to be or a women or a man’s world, you need to be able to project yourself and never doubt yourself of your abilities and it is precisely this sensitivity that will allow you to sign the kind of projects you have always dreamed of doing!
Cover Photo Credit : Andréanne Gauthier
All interior design Photo Credit : Alex Parent
For more on her spectacular designs, visit her Instagram : @MarthaFrancoArchitecture
To hire her team for your next residential project, visit her website : MarthaFranco.ca
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