Davidson Rafailidis

Davidson Rafailidis is a design practice founded by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis. Their projects have been published and exhibited internationally. Both Davidson and Rafailidis teach as an integrated part of their practice. Davidson is from Canada and Rafailidis is from Germany.

Lots of moving around

We met at the Architectural Association in London when we were both going to school there. Eventually we graduated and were working in different continents, and ended up losing contact. We reconnected on a trip together to Barcelona. Later, Stephanie decided to move from Montreal, Canada, to Cologne, Germany where incidentally Georg got his first teaching job. Living together in Germany, we did a few competitions together and some artist residencies, which gave us the opportunity to build some very small things ourselves.

Finding the best of both worlds

Europe is a good context for emerging talent to realise built work. The specific geographic context of North America offers a strong academic context. More stable and better paid teaching opportunities for the young generation of architectural designers spur architectural innovation as predominantly paper architecture. But this strong context of architectural theory and criticism informs our work strongly including all built work.Most of our work is self-initiated and all of it is rooted in our scholarly or teaching interests. Since we teach architecture and design at different universities, the teaching and research part of these jobs is the core of what we do.

Trying their luck

It’s important for us to keep a line of questioning very clear in a realised project. We don’t differentiate between an essay or a realised project. Just like an essay needs a clear thesis or statement, fleshed out with support, when we work on projects, we try to achieve this same type of approach and clarity. It’s not easy – there are a lot of conflicting forces in every project. We’ve been lucky to work with collaborators who are curious about space and interested in trying new things.

Managing flexibility

We don’t have consistent schedules. We try to block time outside of our teaching schedules and our kids’ schedules to do some form of design work. We both work best if we can concentrate on a project regularly during a condensed period – like working on it each day over the course of three months, or something like that. But that’s not a luxury we really have, so we have to improvise with the time that we can grab. Because we work sporadically, it appears like we work slowly, almost in slow-motion. But actually we just work on things for small spurts stretched over long time spans.

A shift onto the virtual

We closed our dedicated work space when the COVID lockdowns started. Because we work so often on “off hours” with our kids around, it makes most sense to work from home now. But this is messy and chaotic, it’s not ideal. Before that, a friend of ours let us use a cooperative workspace with him – we designed desks and had them built – they were large and solid. Now, during the pandemic, our work space is literally our laptop and physical models are replaced by 3D modeling software.

Photography Florian Holzherr
Davidson Rafailidis' profile is part of New Generations' new section 'Beyond Europe'


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