Vincent Ricardel

In 2011, Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA, and Michael Marshall, AIA, formed Marshall Moya Design (MMD) in Washington, D.C. Their partnership represents a combined 35 years of experience. MMD’s 15 employees hail from six countries on three continents, a level of diversity that Moya and Marshall call “accidental, but advantageous.” In 2012, MMD launched inNuevo, a product design company that complements its architecture practice and has opened the door to new opportunities.

We have been open to hiring architects from diverse backgrounds all along, but the present state of our office occurred organically. Everyone is comfortable here. There aren’t that many African-American architects or women architects, and so we want to be able to mentor people from all sorts of backgrounds—to challenge ourselves and challenge them to do great work. Background aside, you know intuitively who is a good designer and who isn’t. I think we’ve assembled a wonderful team here. And it’s a small team, which allows us to turn on a dime and adapt to the market.

Collaboration is central to our work. Being a small local firm, we get to team up with larger firms—from concept to construction. But, on our own, we work across architecture, product design, and graphic design as a way to leverage the process of design to create a diversified business.

As an example, right now we’ve got two public schools that we’re working on for the District of Columbia. Seeing as more and more schools like these are utilizing iPads rather than books, our challenge is to create an environment that can accommodate that technology shift. So, outside of traditional design services and through our product design company inNuevo, we designed DOCKr—a mass-produced docking station that allows students to blur the distinction between a tablet and a laptop.

DOCKr is also a consumer product that we sell, and that marketplace is a very different kind of situation. To go from concept to schematics to development to production to marketing, we had to consider a broader client base beyond students. And to make it work on the money side, we launched a Kickstarter campaign and drew resources from our architecture firm, MMD. D.C. Public Schools wanted to see a high level of technology in their classrooms, and DOCKr gave us the chance to push ourselves as a design firm. The experience keyed us in to the national conversation about K–12 environments and, now, it’s a conversation to which we are contributing.
—As told to William Richards

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