Surf Shacks 045

Tatiana Barhar + Carlos Zubieta
Venice, California

Matt Titone

Tatiana and Carlos are a creative duo who, between the two of them, have helped re-shape the face of Venice over the last two decades through smart and modern architectural design in residential, commercial and office spaces. From Quiksilver and Roxy retail spaces, to Lone Wolfs, Oscar’s Cerveteca, Burton’s Flagship stores, to certain tech startup offices (who will go unmentioned here) and unique homes all over the Venice neighborhood. Their personal home is of course no exception to their fun, bold and contemporary style and aesthetic. The couple designed the house themselves and lived in an Airstream parked in the back yard for the build process. A staple of California modern design, their clean, open layout is perfect for entertaining guests and is a creative’s dream with a small studio out back. There’s even a treehouse for their daughter, Sasha to play in after her surf team practices. We could be in an episode of Californication here, but with less David Duchovny and way more design inspiration.

Matt Titon

Where are you both from?

Tatiana: I was born in Chile and moved to the US when I was 5.
Carlos: I was born in Uruguay and raised both in Argentina and California.

What brought you to Venice, California?

Tatiana: I always new I wanted to move to California. I remember asking my dad at a young age why he had deprived me of such an amazing place! While living in NYC, I craved being close to the beach and the mountains. I moved to LA to start architecture school at Sci-Arc where I met Carlos the first week I arrived and here we are today.

Carlos: I moved to LA as a teenager with my family who was looking for a brighter future and I’ve never let it go.

What are your favorite parts about the area where you live and the community?

Tatiana: We moved to Venice in 1996 along with several close friends from architecture school. We loved the diversity, the artistic community and the beach.

Carlos: When we first moved here there were very few families and it’s been great to see Venice evolve into a family-centric community. We love being immersed in the environment we helped build. We’re very social and take every opportunity we can to meet our neighbors. We’ve made amazing friends just by walking around town with our Catahoula Leopard dog, Hunter. Venice is called Dogtown and it really is a dog friendly community!

What are your favorite parts about your home?

Tatina: The integrated kitchen, dining room and garden space. We love to entertain and the way kitchen opens up to the yard allowing us to create a seamless outdoor/indoor experience.

Carlos: Most mornings you can find Tatiana simultaneously gardening and making a hearty breakfast for the family and in the evenings we have friends of all ages running from the kitchen table to the fire pit.

Tell us about the design / build process. What was the vision for your home? Did you both collaborate on the design or did one of you take the reigns?

Tatiana: We both took part on the design and build process of our home. We share a passion for Californian modern design and embraced the outdoor-living life style to guide us through the design. We are also inspired by craft and the process of building furniture, which we both have done over the years. I guess we thought of our house as a large piece of furniture we could tackle with the help of local craftsmen.

How would you define your personal style(s)?

Tatiana: I’m comfortable with a keen sense of detail and lots of splashes of color. My favorite California designers are Heidi Merrick and Raquel Allegra. When it comes to architecture and design, Carlos and I both are inspired by the California modernist movement. Ray Kappe is one of our favorite architects as well as the founder of Sci-Arc.

Where do you draw inspiration from in your work?

Tatiana: I’m always seeking inspiration on a daily basis but traveling is really where I get inspired. The process of discovery has become necessary for me in order to inspire me to create unique and authentic spaces that tell a story.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Tatiana, tell us more about your Quiksilver days and how you helped the brand go from less “Hawaiian tiki torch” to more California cool.

Tatiana: When we first started with Quiksilver in 1998, the brand only had 6 stores nationwide that reflected a quasi-Polynesian aesthetic. Living in California, Polynesia felt un-authentic, so we really wanted to shift the customer experience to a more local and authentic story that reflected the brand, it’s history and it’s riders. That’s when we decided to merge the lifestyle and culture of California into the retail environment. This has become mainstream, but back then, when we wanted to turn Quiksilver into the Gap it was a new way of thinking.

What types of projects are you working on now with Verdego Design?

Tatiana: Our projects range from restaurants, to local boutiques to multi-location spaces for large corporate brands. We work with brands we believe in and make an effort to connect with brands that we are excited about. Our goal with every project is to be a collaborative partner where together we challenge physical spaces and how they interact with the community.

Carlos, tell us more about your architectural design projects in the area.

Carlos: Most of my projects in the area are custom homes. I love engaging and building the American dream for all families. I believe families are the atomic structure of our society, it affords me a microscopic view of how our neighborhood and city evolves. And most recently, I’ve begun working for some of the Internet startups.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone

You both have lived here in Venice for a couple pivotal decades now. What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed to the neighborhood from an architectural perspective.

Tatiana: Change in Venice was inevitable, it’s been a vibrant art/beach/tourist attraction community like no other in the world and once the tech companies started to move in, it became a desired place to live for young people. When we first moved to Venice, most people were afraid of the crime in our community, there were very few young families living here. This started to change for the better when the community became invested in the well-being of the neighborhood and local public schools. Our daughter, Sasha, is on the local surf team! I think it’s so great to get the kids in the water at a young age, it gives them an appreciation and respect for the environment they live in. I don’t love the gigantic developer designed homes overtaking our neighborhood — the whole point of living in a community is to engage and understand it’s scale and values! We don’t need big walls to separate us, we need community spaces where we come together to embrace our diversity.

Discover more creative surfers’ homes in our book, “Surf Shacks®”


Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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