In our latest Hip Daddy Spotlight, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jorge Mastropietro, a New York-based architect and designer. Originally from Buenos Aires, Jorge is the principal and founder of an internationally-regarded firm in Soho, but he’s also a dedicated family man…and most certainly a Hip Daddy. Please enjoy!
Tell us about your kids. What does it mean to you to be a dad?
I have two kids, Kael who is five years old and Kiano who is 11 months old. They are so much fun. Being a father is the most amazing role any man could be blessed with. My children bring so much joy to my life. To be a father takes a lot of hard work and it has been a learning process every step of the way. Kael is extremely curious, always asking questions and wanting answers.
What’s the one thing you cannot live without as a dad?
My partner — he is a huge part of the decision to become parents. Without him I don’t think it would have been possible. His support and effort means a lot, and I have learned and grown with him. The second thing is books. At the end the day, its so nice to spend some quality family time reading bedtime stories and laughing together. Some books we read are ones my mother used to share with me as a child. I love the fact that she has kept them all this time as mementos. Now I am able to share them with my little ones as well.
Here at Hip Daddy, we are inspired by great design and feel that it’s a must. What’s your personal design philosophy?
Design is my passion, I believe that is what differentiates me and my firm from many other architects. Design is the relationship between function, form, structure and symbolism. When I’m in a design mood, I’ll ask myself, “How is this building going to work?” “How will people relate to the space?” I also ask, “What will the space express and how will people understand the meaning of that expression?”
Design is what satisfies the poetic needs of human beings. Anyone can build a house, but not just anyone can design a house. Those are two very different things, and people tend to not understand that concept. My design is usually very minimalist; I believe less is more. Believing in order and geometry plays a big part in that. We live in a world where there is no order, where anything goes. Many people feel that design is by instinct, but the truth is that design is a very rational aptitude. There is order behind design decisions. When designing a building, everything has an explanation and that’s the beautiful part of it.
Tell us about your architecture/design firm — what’s the latest and what’s on the horizon?
We are a growing company, and we are doing a lot of high-end residential work for private clients, as well as boutique buildings for developers. As I said before, we focus on design.
Lately, we have started working on commercial spaces. For example, our new client is Zaniac, a company that operates national after-school enrichment programs. They have given us the privilege of designing their new schools in New York City. We are also working on a few commercial renovations for office and apartment buildings, and we are just starting construction for one on 42nd Street, in Manhattan.
What does a platform like Hip Daddy (whose mission is to inform and empower the Modern Dad) mean to someone like yourself?
I think it is important to inform others especially on how Dads can manage to balance work and family. Also, it’s important to debunk the clichéd image of a Dad. Historically, the father was the one who worked full-time and was never seen by his children. It was a luxury for many of those dads to have a wife who dedicated her life to the family. Today, things are very different. Women are not always stay-at-home mothers and men are not the only ones who work. Hip Daddy helps show this revolution in family roles. In my case, since there isn’t a mommy in the picture, we don’t have the fixed roles that mommy has to be with the kids, and daddy has to work. When one of our kids are sick, either my partner or I stay at home. It is not pre-established that one of us has to stay. We are a modern family, like many of others here in Hip Daddy, we both have full-time jobs, we run a business and we take care of our family not only economically, but also emotionally.
How do you balance running a growing firm with the responsibilities at home?
It is hard. I wake up at 6:00 in the morning, before the sun rises, every day. A few days out of the week, I prepare breakfast for the kids and get Kael ready for school. On alternating days, it’s fitness time. Our nanny arrives around 7:45 A.M., to release me from my daddy duties so I may get to the office in New York City.
When I’m at the office, I work. I’m very good at managing my time. At 5:30 P.M., I’m on my way home to my family. Luckily my commute is only a 20-minute drive, depending on rush-hour traffic, so getting home around 6:00 P.M. is common. My partner and I enjoy doing things together, we usually set aside 2 hours for dinner and play time with the kids, or reviewing Kael’s homework. We end our day by putting the kids to bed and indulging in a glass of wine, accompanied by a captivating novel.
Running a growing business is not easy, but I have a good team on my side. I rely on them tremendously. When I’m out of the office, every one of them knows what to do. To be an entrepreneur means to have a business plan. This allows me to take days off, enjoy long weekends with my family, be able to attend parent-teacher conferences and receive them after their first day of school.
I’m always working towards balancing a career and a family, but being a father that sees his children grow up and evolve into young men is a big deal to me. The little things like my children knowing who I am, how I smell, what I do, how I sound when I am happy, sad or upset, and building memories. That’s a big part of the role I have chosen as a father.