An architect and designer with extensive international experience, Javier Robles draws from his deep architectural and global cultural knowledge to share with his clients his passion for design. Whether it is an urban dwelling or a getaway home, Robles’ signature design is a reflection of his thoughtful spatial composition that aligns his visions with his clients’ aspirations.
His ability to work in different scales, materials, and contexts has enabled Robles to create a unique, contemporary design language that conveys the sophistication and diversity of his clients’ lifestyles and brings to life to their unrealized stories.
Editor-at-Large, D’angelo Thompson, enjoyed talking with him about his path to live his passion.
DT: What inspired you to study design and architecture?
JR: What inspired me was my gift of drawing and painting around 5 or 6 years old.
Also, my curiosity through designs that I saw in magazines, actually my mother’s Home and Garden/Better Homes Magazines. I initially started designing airplanes and interiors and I was fine-tuning my skills even in high school.
Then, I decided to study architecture in Natal, Brazil and then at the University of Sao Paolo. During my years of study, I got to meet and learn from Lina Bo Bardi and Oscar Niemeyer.
After completing my studies, I returned to Peru to work and worked with cultural institutions. That’s when I created Utopus Peru.
DT: How did growing up in Peru and studying in Brazil inspire you?
JR: All these cultures helped me to have a canvas of cultural references whether its technology, ethics, and materials. I think it’s important to have a vast education and cultural exposure.
DT: What are some Peruvian influences in your modern designs?
JR: I’m influenced a lot by the pre-Columbian architecture of the Incan empire. Chan Chan is a major inspiration, which goes as far back as the 6th century.
I think my “gifts”, give me a sense of responsibility to share my culture and knowledge.
DT: Whom or what inspires you?
JR: Many people inspire me today. Two very inspiring people were Professor Roti Nielba Turin and Architect Jorge Caron; both taught me to trust my intuition and pushed me to work harder.
JR: Utopus started out in Peru with the idea of a Utopian society at least work environment. The concept and power of a team and or group collaborations. Then I opened Utopus in London, England (UK) in 2004 which expanded my brand and partnerships with corporations, private homes and now New York, NY.
Utopus has projects spanning from Egypt, Guatemala, Peru, the United Kingdom, NYC, and the Hamptons…
Lumifer was born while I was teaching at Parsons School of Art and Design in NYC. I created a lot of designs, and by 2014 I launched Lumifer which means “light and steel” its a play on Portuguese words.
For instance, this table pictured, it’s inspired by the “hummingbird” which are cultural references and from life experiences. Such as the loss of a dear friend inspired a work called Kyoto (Lighting), Llorona (Lighting) inspired by the song, and works inspired by Huacas in the Andes.
DT: What do you want your legacy to be?
JR: My legacy would be my work and a representation of my life experiences. Also, my dedication to design with integrity and honesty. I would love to create a foundation in Peru for education in the arts specifically Architecture.
DT: What would you love to share with aspiring designers and entrepreneurs?
JR: I would say to younger designers and entrepreneurs to just “GO FOR IT,” and enjoy the experience and lifestyle it affords you.
DT: What wisdom would you bestow on your younger self, 10-year-old Javier?
JR: I would say to my younger self to dream big and the future is bright.
DT: What would be your ideal project?
JR: My ideal project(s) are anything that challenges me to create and be better.
DT: Finish this statement, “I am grateful for…”
JR: “…the talent that I was given.” It has provided me with a very rich life and expanded the globe with great friendships, mentors, family, and extended family around the world.
DT: Javier, thank you for sharing your journey with us.
About Javier Robles
Robles, who was born in Peru and is now based in New York City and London, studied architecture at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, where he was strongly influenced by Brazilian modernist architecture. His interest in history and cultural identity took him back to his roots in northern Peru, where he studied and gained comprehensive experience working with vernacular architecture, in mud-brick, and in national monumental sites. He continues working in other sites around the globe and currently it is working in Chan Chan Archeological Site and the Huaca de la Luna, both in Peru.
After graduating from Columbia University with a master’s in architectural design, Robles worked in prestigious architectural firms in New York and in the Interiors and Product Design department at Parsons School of Design. Ready to embark on a new chapter, he moved to London and established his own practice: Utopus UK, in 2004; followed by Utopus NY, in 2006; and, Utopus Peru in 2015. At Utopus, Robles collaborates with a multidisciplinary team to conceive and execute a variety of projects ranging from cultural and educational buildings to product and furniture design.
In 2014, Robles founded Lumifer, a lighting and furniture studio for the luxury residential and hospitality markets. This was a natural response to his clients’ search for the unique and extraordinary in furnishing and décor. Based in NYC, Lumifer has grown rapidly to become a design forerunner in the contemporary domestic and international market.
In 2016, Robles established Javier Robles Inc, a bespoke studio that offers a fully integrated service for residential architecture, interiors, and lifestyle. These new ventures attend to the growing demand of his worldwide clientele.
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