Empowered by Mexican Design with Virginie Velasco of archdifusión
Join us for a peek inside the empowering and inspiring world of Virginie Velasco, founder and CEO of archdifusión. Described as “the only firm in Latin America made by architects for architects,” they promote and exhibit Mexican and Latin American design talent.
Originally from France, Virginie graduated from l’Ecole d’Architecture et de Paysage in Bordeaux. She has been living in Mexico since 2000, and her love for Mexican culture and architecture shines through in her work. Since founding her own firm in 2013, Virginie has guided her vision with knowledge and passion.
Read on and be inspired by Virginie Velasco in this edition of the Lh Empowered Women Empower series.
Be Empowered by Virginie Velasco, Founder & CEO of archdifusión
Love Happens: As our name and the tagline of our publisher, KOKET, denotes, at Love Happens, we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with achitevture begin? How did it make you feel?
Virginie Velasco: When I was in high school, I was uncertain about my future studies. I created a list of my strengths and passions, and architecture emerged as a natural choice. From that moment on, architecture became an integral part of my life. I graduated from architecture school in the year 2000 and immersed myself in it, sharing my passion with my family, friends, clients, and colleagues.
Lh: Tell us a bit about what led up to your founding of archdifusión.
Virginie: I pursued my architectural studies in France, as I was born there, before relocating to Mexico 23 years ago. I then specialized in Public Relations, beginning my journey with the renowned international architect Ricardo Legorreta at Legorreta + Legorreta. Later, I collaborated with JSa Javier Sánchez’s office. Both firms have received many international awards.
After gaining nine years of expertise, I experienced a midlife crisis. I chose to leave my job but remained committed to promoting architecture as a freelancer. Given that I was the only professional specializing in promoting other architects at the time, clients naturally gravitated toward me. I began with three clients, and as my clientele grew, I expanded my team.
We emerged as the pioneering firm in Mexico and Latin America, with architects dedicated to promoting their peers and celebrating the broader spectrum of industries related to Mexican architectural talent. Unbeknownst to me, I had evolved into an entrepreneur. Recognizing the need for further training, I joined the EO Entrepreneur Organization for four years. There, I refined my skills in strategy, execution, finance, and people management. Additionally, I had the privilege of serving on the Board for two years. I recently graduated from IPADE, the premier business school in Latin America.
My passion for architecture, combined with my entrepreneurial spirit, has driven me to be a better leader for my team and clients.
Lh: What do people look for most in an architectural project in Latin America?
Virginie: People look for interdisciplinary collaborations involving architects, interior designers, industrial designers, landscapers, artists, local artisans, and the local workforce. Projects here prioritize sustainability, emphasizing natural light, cross ventilation, water collection, solar energy, the use of local materials, and the cultivation of endemic plants.
Lh: How do you describe the perfect architectural project?
Virginie: A perfect architectural design should seamlessly integrate with its surroundings, utilizing local materials and techniques. They are characterized by their elegance and the inclusion of contemporary Mexican designers and artists. These spaces should evoke emotions and leave lasting impressions on their occupants.
Lh: How does Mexico influence your work?
Virginie: I hold a deep affection for Mexico, having made it my home 23 years ago. Its culture, people, and architecture captivate me. Mexico brims with boundless opportunities and potential. My passion for Mexican architecture is evident, as 90% of our clients are Mexican.
We’ve played a pivotal role in enhancing the reputation of established architects and have supported budding architects in presenting their work, allowing them to stand toe-to-toe with their more experienced counterparts. With dual citizenship now, I take immense pride in my Mexican roots and in championing Mexican talent.
Lh: What is archdifusión to you?
Virginie: In 2023, archdifusión celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over the decade, we’ve collaborated with over a hundred firms. We’ve been staunch advocates for Mexican architecture, and it’s noteworthy that approximately 30% of international architectural awards in the past 10 years have been attributed to our office. We take immense pride in our role in elevating Mexican talent on the global stage. Building this firm from the ground up and contributing to the international recognition of Mexican architecture, alongside my dedicated team, is a source of immense pride for me.
Lh: If you could give one bit of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Virginie: Have faith in yourself. With unwavering conviction and determination, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. Dive into entrepreneurship and leadership, and don’t let fear be a barrier. Instead, harness it as a driving force to propel you forward.
Lh: What empowers you most?
Virginie: I have faced numerous challenges in my life, from growing up in a toxic family environment to battling mental health issues, abuse, and low self-esteem. Balancing my roles as a divorcee, mother of two, and entrepreneur has been demanding.
I founded my firm at the age of 39, proving that it’s never too late to start a business. A year ago, I authored a book titled “El Despertar de una Mujer Chingona – Cómo retomé las riendas de mi vida a los 40” (“The Awakening of a Badass Woman – How I Took Back Control of My Life at 40”), which has empowered many others both men and women.
Lh: Do you have any mottos or favorite quotes you like to live by?
Always strive for the ‘YES’ when faced with a ‘NO’.
Aim high, and always seek solutions.
Let fear be a catalyst for action, not a barrier.
Lh: What’s next for Virginie Velasco?
Virginie: The commercial crisis triggered by the change in the Mexican government in 2019, followed by the COVID pandemic, posed significant challenges for our industry. Despite the adversities, I chose to retain all employees and honor their full salaries, contrary to many of my peers. Over two years, we lost 90% of our regular clients.
However, 2023 marks our resurgence. We’ve diversified our services, curating architects for real estate developers, fostering VIP relationships between brands and architects, and forging alliances with a hyper-realistic rendering visualization firm and a human resources agency.
Our primary goal remains: to elevate architects on the local and global stage, advocating for designs that positively impact society and urban landscapes.
Learn more about Virginie Velasco and explore the architecture and design of archdifusión at archdifusión.mx.
Feature Image of Virginie Velasco by Root Films