We are back with a new interview In the studio with Aneta Gesiorska and Joana Sobrinho, founders of Eleven Visualisation, one of the studios that has stood out the most in recent years for the exceptional aesthetic quality of its projects and its taste for detail. Join us as we explore their entrepreneurial journey, the valuable lessons they’ve learned, the intricacies of their creative process, and their aspirations for carving a unique path in the ever-evolving landscape of the industry.
1. Can you share with us your educational and professional background, and how these experiences have shaped your approach and vision at the studio?
Mine and Joana’s backgrounds differ, which I have always believed to be a good thing, as we tend to complement each other. I’m a trained architect while Joana received her degrees in Web Design and Computer Animation. We met during our time with the Design Communication team at Foster and Partners back in 2014. Although our past professional experience wasn’t the same, we instantly connected on our passion for 3D and design. It’s really the fixation on details that bonded us and eventually led to starting a business together.
We loved the idea of working on projects where we could bring not only technical, but also design input. Having the opportunity to visit the site and take our own photography was also something that we truly enjoyed and wanted to make a part of our typical workflow. And above all, we wanted our clients to really see us as collaborators, not just image suppliers. Sticking to our vision, especially in the very beginning, took a fair share of perseverance but we believe that taking the time to find the right projects was the right decision.
2. You are recognized as a reference in female entrepreneurship within the industry. Could you talk about the challenges you faced in establishing an architectural visualization firm?
Entrepreneurship is probably not for everyone, but we strongly feel that anyone who feels the appetite should definitely give it a try. It’s a great opportunity for professional and personal development, regardless of the final outcome. I’m sure being a woman or foreign or any other minority has its downsides, but we genuinely try to focus on who we are rather than who are not. We prefer to see the opportunities that our position offers and take it from there.
3. Can you talk about Eleven’s creative process, from the initial idea to the final product? What are the key elements in this journey?
Even though we have an established workflow, we make an effort to approach each project with a unique perspective. Finding out what the true purpose of the images is, is something that takes an extra amount of digging, but we feel like it’s essential to the process.
Making sure we devote time in the beginning for thorough design analysis and preparing a shared inspiration board also always proves to be beneficial to the process. We try to promote a work environment where any feedback is truly welcomed and embraced as a key element to image improvement. All of our work is a collective effort, so we make sure no artist is ever left alone without the help of their teammates and all the struggles are shared as much as the victories.
4. Is there a particular project that posed unique challenges, and can you share the valuable lessons you learned from it?
Something that we have a quite a bit of practice in and has proven to be effective for us is quick thinking and not dwelling on the changes and restrictions that we can not control. I’d say the site photo shoots are what often need unconventional solutions.
In 2022 we worked on a residential project in Dubai that required drone photography for the internal renders. A few days after organizing and paying for all the flights and site permits we found out that the airspace in UAE has been closed until further notice. We booked our flight tickets on the same day and begged the receptionist at the nearby hotel to grant us a room with a very precise view overlooking the Palm Jumeirah. The photos turned out great – even better than what we anticipated from the drone (which we wouldn’t have been able to fly after sunset) as we were able to shoot bluehour from the balcony.
Things weren’t much easier when we shot for a project in Cairo, where being a foreigner (and a foreign woman especially) made it virtually impossible to overlook a drone photoshoot. But again, being persistent and looking for unconventional solutions seems to do the trick.
5. Client communication is essential in project management. How do you align your creative vision with client expectations throughout a project?
We believe that mutual understanding and respect are crucial in any creative collaboration, so when working with our clients we want to make sure that they see us as someone on their side, who’s working with them towards the common goal. We do, of course, have a typical workflow that we present to our potential clients at the beginning of the collaboration, but we try to always adjust our pipeline to their requirements and truly fulfil not only what they want but what they actually need. We think our role as artists it’s not to criticise the designer’s vision, but to fully embrace it and complement it with our skillset. For us the biggest confirmation that our work is being appreciated is when on the next project with the same client we hear ‘You do you, we trust you’.
6.Could you talk about your 3D Awards nominated project ‘Persephone’ and its impact both within the studio and in the work with your clients
Persephone is a passion project of ours that has been slowly developed over the past few years. The idea emerged during the pandemic when we were looking for a way to put our newly obtained at that time Houdini and Nuke skills to use. We wanted to create an architectural project that would allow us to use it as a playground for our future explorations. Luckily a group of friendly architects agreed to design a residential tower in a location of our choice for us – King’s Cross in London. That was later followed by an interior design that was partially developed by us and partially by other friends of ours. The design phase happened mostly between 2020-2021 but due to the large workload in our studio, the project was put on hold.
It was only in spring 2023 when we started preparing for the upcoming conferences that we were speaking at, that we decided to revive this project. We knew that this time we wanted to focus on something that would be a bit more than just a standard architectural visualisation that we produce on a daily basis in our studio. After doing extensive research among our friends in VFX industry, we set up a team of storyboard artists, modellers, riggers, animators and simulation specialists and the idea of an apartment that is being overtaken by plants was born. Over a period of two and a half months we worked on over 60 shots that required technical skills and file management methods that were completely new to us at that time. It was an intense time but I think the result was incredibly inspiring for everyone in our team.The feedback that we received after publishing the movie made it truly worth the effort.
7. What qualities do you believe are essential for an artist to be a successful part of the Eleven team?
I think in general we are always looking for artists who share similar interests to us in both 3D and design but we are also open to skills that are complementary to what we currently offer as a studio. We feel very strongly about paying attention to details and being able to use photography efficiently in our renders. Having a strong passion for your work and taking responsibility for projects, I believe, are universal skills to succeed in any creative job. And determination above all.
8.This year has been exceptionally busy for you, with numerous event participations and live talks. How have these activities influenced your professional growth and Eleven’s development?
We have always felt extremely proud to be in an industry with such a strong and supportive community. In the early years we were mainly focused on creating our identity as a company and building a client base, only this year, really, we felt that the time was right to start sharing our experiences with a wider audience.
Live talks are not something that we’ve done much in the past so naturally, we felt nervous about them. We have done 5 presentations so far and I can easily say that the nerves are worth it. The positive response from the community and new connections that we are able to establish because we decided to put ourselves out there really make up for the preparation time and the stage fright.
9. What is Eleven’s current position in the market, and what are your aspirations for the studio’s future growth and development, particularly regarding service expansion and talent?
We have been really lucky with a lot of projects that we have worked on in the past and clients we are collaborating with currently so we very much feel we are on the right track of where we want to be as a studio. With the growth of our team and with the development of technology we’d love to be able to take on more complex endeavours in the future. We’d like to continue expanding our skills while working on ambitious R&D projects and bringing methodologies from other industries.
10. To wrap up, what advice would you like to offer those who are new to Archviz or aspiring to start their own studio?
Something that is crucial and took me a little while to realise is that no matter what stage of your career you are at, you should really put some thought into what your real interests and goals are. It’s easy to just go with the flow and lose the responsibility over your professional direction. Keep pushing yourself to try new things and seek new opportunities but at the same time appreciate where you currently are and find pleasure in everyday tasks. And definitely take advantage of the amazing community – it’s impossible not to find a true source of inspiration there.