By Rabôt World

Elena_Manferdini_and_Marschinda Elena_Manferdini_and_Marschinda

We’re celebrating female creatives based in Los Angeles who are inspiring to us at RABÔT.


Meet Elena Manferdini and Marschinda, photographed by Jasmine Rutledge.


Elena is wearing the Gena Milanesi Scarf and Marschinda is wearing the Avery Scarf.



Elena Manferdini (born 12 September 1974) is an Italian architect based in Venice, California, where she is the principal and owner of Atelier Manferdini. She has over twenty years of professional experience spanning across architecture, art, design, and education. 

Manferdini was raised in Bologna, Italy, where she graduated from the University of Civil Engineering in 1999 and later received her Master of Architecture and Urban Design from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. 

Manferdini has been teaching at SCI-Arc since 2003, serving most recently as Coordinator of Graduate Thesis before taking on the role of Graduate Programs Chair. Manferdini has been acknowledged with prestigious appointments such as the Howard Friedman Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of California Berkeley (UCB) and various Visiting Professor Positions at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and Seika University.  

Manferdini founded her Los Angeles based firm, Atelier Manferdini, in 2004. The office has gone on to complete projects in the US, Europe and Asia. 

In 2019 Manferdini was honored with the ICON Award as part of the LA Design Festival, which is a prize that recognizes iconic women who have made an indelible mark on Los Angeles, culture, and society in general through their work, character, and creative leadership. 



Marschinda is a Southern California native who enjoys being in nature. Mostly, she’s with her son, and when they’re not exploring or adventuring, they can be found in the garden or at the park. If there were more free days she would be shredding on her snowboard, or her piano. Reading, ranunculus, and Rachmaninoff are just a few of her favorite things. She lives with her husband and son, and Olive their house cat, in Los Angeles, where they follow a plant-based lifestyle, centering kindness and compassion in the choices they make.   



How has living in Los Angeles fostered your career? 

Elena - "My story is not dissimilar to that of many international students who come to Los Angeles to study and then remain in the USA. I landed in Los Angeles in 1997, I was immediately struck by the city's vibrant creativity and its embrace of cutting-edge technology. The rapid pace of growth, the diverse cultural artistic tapestry, and the striking formalist architecture all ignited my passion.

Living in Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in fostering my career as an artist and designer. The city's dynamic and multicultural environment provided a fertile ground for creativity and innovation, shaping my approach to technology and design in profound ways. Immersing myself in this architectural melting pot has broadened my perspective and inspired me to explore new ideas and concepts in my work. Los Angeles is a hub for creativity and artistic expression. The city's vibrant arts scene, coupled with its entrepreneurial spirit, has encouraged me to push the boundaries of traditional design and embrace experimentation.

Following the completion of my master’s degree in architecture, I established my own design practice, Atelier Manferdini – Venice, California. From the outset, the mission was clear: to champion design excellence and push the boundaries of creativity in everything we do. I believe in the power of art and design to shape culture and enhance human experience, and this drives my desire to engage in public art projects with diverse communities and push the boundaries of what's possible.

Undoubtedly, one of the most defining aspects of my experience living in Los Angeles has been teaching at SCI-Arc, an independent architecture school. Situated in the heart of downtown Los Angeles's vibrant Arts District, SCI-Arc serves as a dynamic epicenter for creativity and experimentation within the field of architecture. Since 2015, I've had the honor of assuming the role of Graduate Programs Chair at SCI-Arc, a responsibility that has deepened my commitment to shaping the future of architecture and fostering innovation within the discipline. Through my involvement with SCI-Arc, I've had the privilege of working alongside some of the brightest minds in the field, mentoring aspiring architects, and contributing to groundbreaking research and design projects. SCI-Arc's ethos of pushing boundaries and challenging conventions aligns with my own approach to design and education. The school's emphasis on creativity, experimentation, and interdisciplinary collaboration has profoundly influenced my teaching philosophy and has inspired me to continually explore new ideas and methodologies within the field.

Being a part of SCI-Arc's vibrant community has not only enriched my professional life but has also provided me with a platform to contribute meaningfully to the evolution of architecture. As I continue to fulfill my role as Graduate Programs Chair, I remain committed to empowering the next generation of architects and driving forward the boundaries of innovation and excellence within the field."

Marschinda - "When I was 22 I earned my degree in biochemistry at Occidental College, and aimed to become a pedodontist— but life led me on a different path. Surviving ovarian cancer at age 23 I shed my type-A tendencies, and becoming a mother 20 years later changed my world and aspirations entirely. For me, I can think of nothing more fulfilling than being a mother to my son. When he’s grown, perhaps I can make something of photography, and probably Los Angeles is a good place to start."


What is your favorite architecture style in Los Angeles? What is your favorite building in Los Angeles?


Elena - "As an architect and resident of Los Angeles, I find it challenging to narrow down my favorite architecture style in such a diverse and dynamic city. However, if I were to choose, I'd say that contemporary architecture holds a special place in my heart. Los Angeles is a city in constant flux, constantly evolving and embracing innovation. While it certainly has its share of historical landmarks, what truly captivates me is its capacity to push boundaries, experiment, and sometimes even fail in its pursuit of architecture.

When it comes to selecting my favorite building in Los Angeles, there's no hesitation: the Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry immediately comes to mind. This iconic structure holds a unique significance for me, as it was under construction during my formative years in Los Angeles as a student. Witnessing its evolution and eventual completion left an indelible impression on me.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall reminds me of the city's boundless potential and commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in architecture. It's not just a building; it's a testament to the enduring legacy of creativity and innovation that defines Los Angeles.

Looking at the past, I would like to mention Julia Morgan, the architect of the iconic Hearst Castle. She also made significant contributions to the architectural landscape of Los Angeles. One notable project in Los Angeles that bears Julia Morgan's architectural imprint is the Herald Examiner Building, freshly renovated by Gensler.

And how can I not mention the Schindler House? Located on King’s Road in West Hollywood, the house is an architectural masterpiece designed by pioneering architect Rudolph Schindler. Originally built as a residence for Schindler and his wife, Pauline, the Schindler House is renowned for its innovative design and forward-thinking approach to space, light, and materials. The house is characterized by its open-plan layout, and integration with the surrounding landscape, blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces."


What drew you to nature photography?


Marschinda - "Birds are fascinating; their mating behaviors, migration patterns, their intelligence, their songs. Luckily for me, I have a telephoto zoom lens that gives me a front row seat of birds being birds; parents feeding their young and fledglings taking their first flights are some of my favorite observations. This is how my foray into nature photography began. I love nature, and photography allows me to capture moments and details you wouldn’t normally see."



What inspires you about each other?


Elena - "Marschinda and I met through our kids: Tommaso and Bradford are 6 years old and attend the same kindergarten class at Ocean Charter. 

From the very beginning, I was struck by Marschinda's kindness, grace, and generosity, qualities that radiated from her effortlessly. It was evident that she possessed a warmth and sincerity that drew people towards her.

As I got to know Marschinda better, I discovered that she was not only a devoted mother but also an organized and effective individual. Moreover, Marschinda's dedication to her son and his education serves as a source of inspiration for me. She shows me the importance of taking the time to be fully present for my own child and to actively engage with his school community.

In addition to her role as a mother, Marschinda is deeply involved in supporting the teaching of Waldorf education at Ocean Charter. Her passion for this educational philosophy is infectious, and she plays a pivotal role in rallying a community of parents who share her enthusiasm. Marschinda's commitment to fostering a nurturing and supportive environment for all children is evident in everything she does.

Marschinda reminded me of the importance of kindness, generosity, and community. Her presence in our lives has been a blessing, and I am grateful for the friendship and inspiration she continues to provide."

Marschinda - "Elena and I were new and fast friends when both of our only sons bonded in transitional kindergarten just last year. As I learn more about Elena, my admiration multiplies. I am in awe of her level of accomplishment and her endless list of accolades and achievements. When I see Elena, I see power and strength, as well as soft, pretty, and fanciful; a juxtaposition I find rare. And on top of that, she is a loving and nurturing mother, and a role model of women’s empowerment to her son. All of this together is what makes Elena amazing to me. She lives a life of passion and purpose, and she inspires me to return to my own passions, and rediscover my own creativity. She is such a woman of many strengths, I am sure she inspires me in ways I have yet to discover."