Jeanette Muñoz Abela - PhD | Director of Architecture and Structural Engineering
But what she really does is create spaces that make people happy and healthy. Be it at home, in the office, in gardens or in parks; they're designed to make people happy and healthy.
Working for other people for so long gave her a whole load of experience, but with a husband in the shape of a graphic designer, there came a point when they found that together, they could expand their portfolio in a different kind of way. With different perspectives and understanding the design from two different ends of the table, Jeanette's company was born.
While talking about this, I ask what working with her partner is like, an intriguing concept for many. She notes that they are able to have interesting conversations and share different cultural and contextual meanings.
I am caucasian, he is not.
I am from Europe, he is not.
She credits them working together with helping them to understand each other better, along with being able to communicate with clients more clearly by combining their different understandings and shared experiences.
They run their business from Malta, where Jeanette is from. Described as a little paradise, with old buildings made from simple tools, which serve as a reminder that where there is a will, there's a way. And also, that if you get lost, you simply find the sea and turn back around.
The home they share sounds like a labour of love, a beautiful building in need of renovation, which Jeanette finds herself mulling over more than most. I ask whether her line of work makes her more conscious of the changes she makes to her own home, and she confirms that yes, it does, very much.
She notes that choosing a house was difficult, but when she walked into the one they call home, the aura and the energy struck her, and she was taken. Conserving an old home should be done with sensitivity, and before she could begin making changes, she needed to see how the house breathed, behaved, and lived.
An insight into her world and her work, it is clear that Jeanette really doesn't just create spaces; she pours thought, care and physical energy into them.
Sustainability is a core part of her business, although she doesn't have much of a desire for the way in which the word is used. She shares that people think that sustainability in the built environment is about slapping on solar panels and hoping for the best - and it is so much more than that. It isn't just about climate change; it is about poverty, diversity, inclusion, health and education, to name just a few.
Working with brands and buildings as a part of what they do has its challenges, but with every challenge comes a solution, and for Jeanette, it is about looking at what the building and project need. She notes that we are bombarded and brainwashed by ads, and balancing the integrity of a building with project requirements is a necessity. Careful and well-thought-out design brings brands into buildings in a natural and organic way, and if there is a choice between a billboard or a tree, it will always be the tree.
Tools are a big part of Jeanette's job, but nothing compares to the pencil. During our chat, she shows me a few that are sharpened to perfection or, what Jeanette calls, ready for action. A very satisfying sight.
A piece of graphite surrounded by a little bit of wood makes my life so complete.
Whether she is writing down ideas, sketching, or is on-site and there is something a person doesn't understand in words, she will draw it out for them. Be it on a piece of paper, a stone, or a brick; it can handle it all.
Work is a passion but Jeanette shares that she was a concert pianist in another life and has always loved Salsa dancing. The dancing is a long-standing love; sharing Salsa dances with her husband and dancing around the room with her daughter, albeit to Disney. As for the piano, she doesn't play right now, but she still reads music and listens to classical music; it is still part of her life, just in a different way.
Jeanette is a Pro+ member of 3point175 and credits it with being the thing that is there for her when she needs direction. One of the things that has stuck with her is Errol's definition of the word no.
It stands for Next Opportunity.
Whether it was COVID and feeling isolated, finding the need to think about herself, an early midlife crisis - or a combination of all three? She half-joked; something made her join the group, with a need to be a part of something. She had been in groups before, but not like this one, and she didn't anticipate that this was going to be "THE" group.
It has developed so much more than what I thought it was going to be.