Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Mary Maydan

This week’s #DesignerFriday is Mary Maydan. After founding Maydan Architects in 2004, the firm’s uniquely modern take on design brought her to the foreground of the trend that is minimalistic contemporary architecture. In this week’s interview with Andrew Joseph, Maydan speaks candidly about home towns, motherhood, and finding time to sleep.

Bright pops of colors and sharp directional lines lead you through this deliciously spacious interior. Photography by David Eichler.

Andrew Joseph: What is the last book you read?
Mary Maydan: I am reading right now: “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, by Yuval Noah Harari.

Andrew: What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
Mary: Chocolate. I am a real chocoholic. When we were first married, my husband used to buy me flowers. I had the kids give him a hint that mom would like chocolates more, and that they should go pick it with him and sample. It’s a win-win.

Andrew: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be a ….?
Mary: I’d definitely be a journalist. In my previous career, I was a writer and specialized in feature stories. I loved having a carte blanche to ask fascinating people questions and learn about them. I think that this quality is one that I carried with me to my architecture work. Understanding our clients and how they want to live helps us design for them their dream home.

Andrew: What are three words to describe where you live?
Mary: Quiet, quiet and quiet. Palo Alto is beautiful and manicured and green, but after growing up in Tel Aviv and living in NY, it was really difficult to move to such a quiet town. When I first moved, everyone told me: “Wait until you have kids. You will appreciate this calmness”. So I have 4 kids, and they all tell me: “Mom we are with you.” We are New Yorkers at heart.

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
Mary: My running shoes. No matter where I am in the world I never skip my 50-minute daily run. It started when my kids were very small, and between taking care of them and my full-time job, I never had time to myself. The 50 minutes are all mine and leave me feeling so refreshed and happy.

This 5,000 square foot home located in San Mateo, CA, is unique and modern, while still remaining warm and inviting.

Andrew: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
Mary: I can do the presentation of the food on the plate nicely and I am good at designing kitchens. My mom is the one who is really great at cooking in them. You have to set the right expectations from the kitchen. A few years ago I designed a kitchen for a client. Outlets with USB plugs had just come out, and we installed one in the kitchen. He joked that this was the best feature in his great kitchen. His phone would be fully charged to order take-out.

Andrew: Do you get your eight hours a night? – what is your schedule like?
Mary: I can only dream about eight hours of sleep. I am not great at work-home balance. Since I want to spend time with my kids when they are back from school, I take time off in the afternoon to be with them, and then when everyone is asleep I catch up on my work until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM. It’s not a great practice, but it’s my only way to try to do it all.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Mary: In architecture, I love houses that don’t look like they try too hard. I feel the same about fashion. I like clothes that look great, but don’t look like you are trying too hard.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Mary: I would love to design a penthouse in NY or a house in Tel Aviv, my two favorite cities in the world. Ideally, these projects would require a lot of time on site…

Andrew: How do you define beauty?
Mary: Beauty is a reaction, an instinctive response.

About The Designer | Mary Maydan is the principal and founder of Maydan Architects, a Palo Alto, California-based boutique architecture and interior design firm. Born in Tel Aviv, Maydan possesses a style that celebrates and reflects what it means to be modern. She founded her firm in 2004 and gained immediate recognition for her design of an ultra-modern residence, which stood in sharp contrast to the traditional architecture that dominated Silicon Valley at the time. This first project established Maydan as a leader of a new trend and defined her niche — minimalistic contemporary architecture.

Prior to founding Maydan Architects, Maydan was the U.S. Correspondent of the prestigious newspaper, Globes, the largest and oldest financial newspaper in Israel. She lived in New York City, where she spent her time interviewing and writing feature stories about some of the most inspiring figures of our time.

Maydan relocated to Silicon Valley after meeting her husband. When they planned their first home, she fell in love with design and with the idea of making her own mark, as opposed to writing about other people who did great things.

Maydan’s high-end residential projects are driven by the motto that architecture should always be inspirational. She approaches each space as an artistic challenge, using her keen understanding of design, trends, construction, and cost to create one-of-a-kind homes that are beautiful, warm, livable and inviting. With her strong belief that architecture shapes the way we live our lives, Maydan focuses on creating designs that are functional, environmentally responsible, and forward-thinking.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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