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Meet Gloria Duque

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gloria Duque. 

Hi Gloria, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
I have always loved everything related to arts. Architecture, sculpture, dance, fashion, music, paintings, you name it! I grew up in a house of couturiers surrounded by beautiful fabrics, paper patterns, and the very romantic melodies of Julio Iglesias. I can still remember my grandma’s clients rushing excitedly upstairs to try on their newly made dresses. Even as a very young girl, I can recall how my grandma was able to bring joy to people with her art. I realized then, that it’s possible to generate happiness by designing beautiful objects & spaces. Who wouldn’t want to live in a more cheerful world? 

I didn’t become a couturier (sorry for ending the tradition grandma!) However, I decided to go to Architectural School. I love how this profession beautifully integrates arts and science. The little researcher in my needs to put a technical spin into everything I create! Alongside my professional career, I have always pursued other creative outlets like dance, photography, painting, and especially pottery. My ceramic pieces -also known as The Malpasos- evoke the characters found in the imaginative worlds of celebrated magical-realist novelist Gabriel García Marquez. Each of my pieces has a story to tell; some are fictional, some are factual, but all share a little bit of my essence. They all bring me back to that old house where I would fall asleep to the sound of my grandma’s laughter and her old sewing machine… 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think that when you do what you love and when you approach life with an open mind and a positive attitude struggles become an enjoyable part of the journey. 

One of my biggest challenges was -or has been(!) the fact that English is my second language. Learning the technicalities of the Architectural world in a language different than your own is an extremely challenging process. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I believe it’s possible to generate happiness by designing beautiful objects and spaces. This has been my primary professional focus since I graduated from Architecture school in my native Cali, Colombia, and decided to move to New York City. As much as I love where I grew up, I knew that I was going to be a New Yorker one day. I can’t really explain how but I used to dream of spaces in the city that I have never been to. Some call it déjá vu, I call it destiny. 

Since earning my Architect’s license, I have completed a wide array of institutional projects in the American Northeast as well as overseas, including the Rockland Psychiatric Children’s Hospital in Rockland, New York, and the Bayamón Correctional Medical Center in Puerto Rico (I absolutely adore Puerto Rico!) More recently, I have had the opportunity to work on Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus, in Harlem, alongside Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Davis Brody Bond. Can I confess I was totally star-struck by Renzo Piano? 

Currently, I am designing an office building for a company that is generating wind energy to power Brooklyn. Being able to be part of the process in which the city is transitioning into cleaner energy is something that brings absolute joy into my life. I think I am living one of my proudest moments in my career. Leaving a better world for future generations is something we should all aim for. 

I could never talk about my career and not give a huge shoutout to my Malpasos. My beautiful sculpted-in clay family. The Malpaso Series grew out of my desire to give material form to the beautiful, fun, and colorful creatures inside my head. Please tell me you have imaginary friends too… 

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
To be happy with myself. To be peaceful with myself and my decisions. I value my “me” time immensely. Places like the gym, the pottery studio, the yoga studio, the park where I take my dog to play, are sacred to me. I don’t take the cell phone there because I want to be fully present and without any distractions. To be able to disconnect from electronic devices even if for a short period of time has become a real luxury these days… 

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