“When people ask me what I do, I tell them I sell dreams,” says Canadian-born Guyanese architect Mikhail Ahmad, “because that’s really what I used to do. But now I’m building those dreams too.”
Ahmad, at just 22, is the founder and CEO of L.A architecturegy, through which he is seeking to merge aesthetics with functionality to create literal works of art.
In an interview, he told Sunday Stabroek that architecture and construction have always been a part of his life, owing to the fact that his father is also an architect. “I grew up in construction. Being around so many houses, [and] tops of roofs since I was nine-years-old,” he said, while noting that since he was a small child, he found himself sketching cartoons from cereal boxes in his free time.
And as he grew, so did his interest in technical drawing and designing and so after graduating from the West Demerara Secondary School, Ahmad moved on to the University of Guyana, where he initially pursued civil engineering, before subsequently switching to architecture because he liked designing things.
Not wanting to be jobless after university, Ahmad pushed to establish his own architecture company during his third year at university and it was from there that L.A architecturegy was birthed.
L.A in its non-abbreviated form is Les Beaux Art, which when translated to English from French means “the fine arts.”
Services offered by L.A architecturegy include preparation of basic house plans, consultations, construction drawings, 3D renders and animations, interior design, and landscaping, among others.
“I use to sell dreams before, now I build them too,” Ahmad added as he alluded to his move to include construction on the list of services offered by his company.
Regarding company dynamics, Ahmad does all the designing but has a construction team for jobs which require them. He noted too that while he is capable of working on commercial projects, he finds favor in pursing those in the residential realm since he is able to have a more intimate connection with clients.
“I think I have a different connection with clients too…when I speak to people, how I transfer my ideas, I listen to what they have to say. The whole transaction gets really intimate,” the architect said.
He further said that he also has a preference for being onsite during the construction process to ensure the work is being done to his standards.
“When I take jobs for construction, I make sure I have the time. If I know I have another job I will not take that job because I want to be onsite every day to see what’s going on. I don’t want my workers to be ‘yeah we did it,’ I wasn’t there but ‘yeah we did it.’ I want to see it done myself,” he shared.
In response to questions about his experience owning his own architecture company, Ahmad explained work was initially slow for him during the first year of operation but has since picked up and he has regular work.
“The first year was really tough. I got like about five jobs, which wasn’t very much but with my website and ads and stuff, I did a lot marketing. I have been getting jobs regularly now,” he shared.
Additionally, he does not feel as though he is working since he enjoys what he does. “It doesn’t feel like I’m working ever because when I’m doing a design for someone, I’m not giving you just a design, I’m giving you like a life. We sit and talk about what you need, what you like what you don’t like and through each project I gain a new friend or a new family,” the young man shared.
And while some may measure his capabilities as an architect by his youthful appearance, Ahmad says he usually gets along with his clients and is always keen on producing work that meets their satisfaction. “I like when whoever I’m working for is happy or satisfied; as clichéd as it may sound, I’m happy when my clients are happy,” he added.
Ahmad also told the Sunday Stabroek that the list of projects he has worked on thus far is under 50, with his favorite project being one he worked on for the Manager of Bounty Farm.
“It was very beautiful…usually when I do plans it might take a month or so but with him it took like four months so everything was just perfect. We really worked on it detail by detail. Also, usually you have people who want a house, go online and see something they like and say that is what they want but it wasn’t like that in this case. We created a design to fit the climate, there is no ac in the house but it very cool, I also did a lot of landscaping for it so instead of just having a big fancy house with a lot of concrete around there are plants and trees everywhere,” he shared.
Important to note for him too is that all the materials used in projects undertaken by the young man are locally manufactured.
“Whatever tiles I use, whatever finishes, it’s all local,” he said.
Though there are no major challenges that he has experienced since the start of the company, Ahmad admits that he finds himself being up at otherwise odd hours of the night working with clients to finalise designs.
“Very often, I have clients who are living abroad and are in the process of moving back to Guyana. We have a time difference so sometimes I’m up at 3 in the morning talking to a client about toilets or something else,” he shared.
Additionally, he said he finds that based on his interactions with clients, persons prefer aesthetics rather than functionality and he often finds himself having to persuade them to do otherwise.
Commenting on the incorporation of art into his designs, Ahmad said, “For every design, every house, I ask my clients what is something they really like so that we can turn that it into an art piece and include in the house. For example if you like drinking, I’ll include a bar, if you like baking you’ll have a whole wall of ingredients put together in some artistic way.”
Further, paintings and other art pieces are included in designs prepared for clients and are available for purchase if the client so desires.
“It’s not just a black and white drawing, I’m giving you a life, a lifestyle and that’s a big thing for me,” he shared.
Looking to the future, Ahmad says he has his eyes set on opening his own hardware store as well as a café, which he has already started designing.
For more information, interested persons can visit his website at https://www.laarchitecturegy.com/