Farah's self-portraits at home wearing Viviana Maxi Caftan.
Name: Farah Azizan
Job Designation: Architect
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Star Sign: Virgo
URL: Studio Bikin
I know very few architects in person but one of them happens to be a top female architect in Malaysia. I contacted Farah about my blog series very early on when I was making a list of names and she immediately agreed to be a part of it despite her busy schedule. What a champion she is. Inadvertently, I have seen more of her in the last couple of months than I have over the years of our friendship! The universe works magically in aligning us I think.
I am blown away by Farah's talent and breadth of work at Studio Bikin (Bikin means 'to make' in Bahasa) which she runs with her partner, Adela Askandar, after I did my due diligence in learning about my architect friend's accomplishments (Note: If you know me well, you will know that I am not big on small talks asking standard fare questions in social settings. I would much prefer to be in the present moment, being more off the cuff ; ))
Farah's philosophy and approach in her work have a strong element of work and play which flows with her personal life seamlessly. Shattering glass ceilings for more natural light and career growth while always up for good laughs and hearty talks. I love that she is also a strong proponent of sustainability, nature-first, craftsmanship, and upcycling, all so relevant in today's world. A conservator, an outlier, a gardening enthusiast, and a gorgeous bohème soul who dreams of having a big lotus pond in her garden one day. In a home that she builds of course.
CC: What is your new normal? What does it mean for you?
FA: The beginning of the MCO was a bliss for me. I was able to slow my mornings down, not rush to work or a meeting. I could take time to prepare a decent breakfast which was a luxury and going to bed without the city hum that is always in the background even at night which did so much to soothe my nerves. It was eerily calm at times externally but internally, well appreciated.
CC: How has your work evolve during this time? What are the pros and cons? Has the spanner in the works worked for you or against?
FA: My partner and I literally had 24 hours to prepare for the lockdown of our practice. We had to brief our designers to prepare to work from home. We had to set up our online team platform immediately so we could 'normalize' and stabilize our operations during those initial surreal and confusing days. But we managed, and now since RMCO took place, some of us have returned to work full time while others still choose to work from home as they are equally efficient. We are much more flexible with our working routine and sensitive to the fact that different individuals have different working rhythms that we can optimize. The most important thing is to keep our communications line open, broad, honest, and consistent.
CC: Cook in/Food Delivery/Eat out? Any favourite dishes you have made? Local food businesses you support?
FA: Cook in! Like everyone else who has developed or found more time to show off their domestic culinary explorations on social media, I had more opportunities to cook proper meals at home. I've always been an avid cook, eater, foodie all around. Laborious dishes that I would not normally have the time for like ramen broth, and milk bread brioche was amazing to experiment and make, to slap dash 5-minute quickies prepared with a little bit more time and love. I found this mother-daughter home-based setup selling organic 'Lei Cha' paste made with herbs grown from their own garden. I have bought 6 jars already. There is so much love in that jar!
CC: What is your WFH/SI uniform?
FA: A sarong.
CC: What is your favourite C&C item(s) to wear?
FA: The black jersey dress (BIsa Dress). It is really flattering for my body shape as I am not your average size XS/S girl. And it makes me feel like this slinky-understated-thing-till-you-see-my-ass-and-boobs dress LOL It holds and lifts everything up while being comfortable too. You don't need to Spanx this one ; )
CC: What do you miss most of your pre-Covid life? Why?
FA: Travel! Psychological cabin fever gave rise to some level of anxiety that I had to manage. This lack of control of your movement does my head in at times. But being aware and taking the necessary steps and seeking support helps especially in these times of uncertainty.
CC: What is your current Netflix binge show or a favourite book or podcast?
I listen to Russell Brand's podcast a lot. The last book I read and loved was Marina Abromovich's memoir, 'Walk through the Walls'.
CC: Your 2020 anthem or quote.
FA: Unfuck yourself.
CC: Do you want your old life back? And why?
FA: No. Change is the only constant. Looking forward to seeing what this all will bring about.
CC: Where will you go when you can fly again across borders?
FA: Bali first, to ground the spirit and set the intention in place. Then, who knows lah.
The Desa House, fully-gutted and transformed to reveal light and height.