What is VARA? va·ra noun /˜vär’∂˜/ varas, plural 1. A Spanish, Portugese, and Latin-American unit of linear measure equal to about 33 inches (84 cm). 2. The basic module used to create the street grid of San Francisco; one city block is typically 100×150 vara.
+ Studio VARA is an interdisciplinary design studio driven by a passion for excellence in design, service, and execution across a wide range of project sizes and typologies that align with our mission to build a better world for our clients, our community, and our planet. We are a minority woman-owned firm based in San Francisco’s Mission District with roots deep in the Bay Area design and construction industry, and a deep commitment to empowering designers as agents of positive change in our built environment and society.
Our practice was founded in 2013 by principals Maura Fernández Abernethy and Christopher Roach, who have developed a team of highly talented individuals with a depth of experience and breadth of capabilities to provide a full range of services across our architecture, landscape, and interior design practice areas. Our team of architects and interior designers has extensive experience working with large complex teams and interfacing with various agencies with jurisdiction in San Francisco and beyond.
Studio VARA is a San Francisco Certified Small Local Business Enterprise (Small LBE) which combines the horsepower of our team’s broad experience across many typologies and construction types with the nimble responsiveness and personal attention that clients receive from a smaller firm. The services we offer reflect this broad range of types and scales, from architecture, landscape, interior design, & furniture to strategy, feasibility, and master planning. Studio VARA approaches every project with the point of view that sustainability is part of the basic standard of care, yet always strive for a higher level of performance.
We’ve come of age in a time where adaptability is key, and change is constant and rapid. We collaborate with fellow architects and professionals across the spectrum, never limited by geography or the size of in-house staff, always open to new partnerships and processes. Our teams encompass talented, thoughtful, dynamic practitioners who ensure a flow of creativity and production.
We approach our practice as a design project, and have developed a process-oriented delivery model that is highly structured, yet allows design solutions to arise organically from the unique ecology of each project. Clients and stakeholders are engaged throughout the design and construction process in a working environment attuned to their aspirations and infused with ease and clarity. Together, we work side-by-side with our collaborators to foster a truly team-oriented process and share the joy of our practice. From the exterior form to the interior furnishings, this flexible, collaborative design approach builds trust and yields spaces that profoundly shape our client’s lives and contribute to a more just, verdant, and resilient world.
+ DESIGN PROCESS Our deeply focused methodology yields high-quality, project-specific results by unifying the large-scale moves through to the refined details.
+ WE LISTEN To create spaces finely tuned to our clients needs, we have to listen first. We build personal relationships with our clients, fostering mutual trust and respect.
+ WARM MODERNISM Our aesthetic point of view unifies function with delight to achieve a humanized and inviting minimalism.
+ PEOPLE, ENERGY, PASSION We love what we do and the people we collaborate with.
+ CRAFTING THE DETAILS Materials inform and guide our approach. Regardless of scale, thoughtful refinement is essential to producing a complete and inviting experience.
+ RESOURCEFUL AND INVENTIVE We manage complex and varied projects with a small, focused, and effective team.