The London-based founder of the award-winning design practice, Design Haus Liberty, Dara Huang has established herself as one of the most sought after names in design.
The daughter of a Taiwanese scientist who immigrated to the USA to work for NASA, Dara has parlayed her master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University into a multi-faceted design studio that is fast changing the mentality and mind-sets of how creative industry businesses are built and run.
"I'm your classic designer with no business skills that started a business," says the designer who established her own studio in 2013, after having worked for the likes of Foster + Partners and Herzog & de Meuron. “When you get a creative degree they don’t really teach you business skills. You have no idea what a cash flow look likes, or a budget or a projection. I learnt on the job.”
Starting with a single intern, Dara learned how to run an architecture firm from scratch. Two years into the business, she hired a CEO, freeing herself to focus on expanding her creative horizons. "You have to find out what you're best at and shuffle off the things you're not good at as soon as possible."
She also fine-tuned her talent pool; now the firm has consultants and specialists for finance, contract writing, social media – all experts in design and architecture; this move away from hiring generalists allowed her to scale her studio effectively. “I went from wearing every hat to just two: generating clients and design vision.”
In six short years, DH Liberty has evolved from a start-up to a design innovator with around 400 projects at various stages of completion all around the world: from villas in Italy and apartments in London, to working with clients such as the LVMH Fund, Emaar, Harrods and Four Seasons. In the process, Dara, who served as a Dezeen Awards 2018 jury member has mastered the secret to growing a design business: diversification.
Having understood early on that architects and designers need to establish other significant verticals rather than solely relying on client oriented work, Dara established her architectural lighting firm Design Haus Liberty Lux. In 2018 she co-founded Vivahouse, unveiling the world’s first pop-up residences: pre-fabricated, flat pack internal modular housing that takes advantage of vacant urban commercial spaces.
Her team has also ventured into the business of experience creation with installations for clients such the Venice Biennale 2016, Cardiff Stadium and MoMA, NYC, amongst others.
Most significantly, Dara herself has become the brand. That, coupled with her intuitive design vision and an uncompromising commitment to an inclusive work environment fuels the success of her studio.
Speaking in the Middle East for the first time, she will be part of Downtown Design’s talks focused on design entrepreneurialism.