5 Questions with Ilanit

Shawn Barba

October 9, 2020

“We are the biggest world sculptors who give shape to this physical world and people’s lives. Our mission is huge.”
Ilanit Cohen

Ila and her family

Ilanit Cohen is an experienced Designer with more than seven years of industry experience and has a strong background in commercial and workplace projects. In her time at Dreyfuss + Blackford she has created interior environments for the State of California, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Contra Costa County and Sacramento. Not surprisingly, Ilanit is passionate about design and works to combine creativity and innovation to design happy, sensory-rich, and functional places to make this planet a little better.

I took some time to ask Ila a little bit more about what drew her to design and to hopefully see inside her world and what makes it so beautiful.

1. What led you to this career?
My dad and grandfather both were architects have been very influential people in leading me to the architecture field (actually, this happened in a non-intentional way), but I guess it runs in our family DNA.

I grew up playing with legos, glue and scissors and was surrounded by drawing tools, while seeing them working on architecture projects until late at night. But what about the barbies? No, Thanks…From what I can recall my favorite toys where always tools for painting, cutting, pasting and building.

So, when you grow in a house of architects and designers conversations about design and how important “the experience” of the space in which we live and use were embedded in me while growing up.

Predictably then, I entered the architecture field because I was passionate about design and how powerful your decisions can be for users…what they can feel, see, touch…and even being able to control people’s mood with a space designed by you, isn’t this wonderful?. I decided to study Architecture and then pursue a master’s in Interior Architecture. That way I can cover the so called “body” and the “heart/soul” of a project.  

As an architect you have an immense power and enormous responsibility…leaving a footprint on this physical world and create fabulous experience for others. Human life is not too long, but physical structures can least for many years, as you can see from the Egyptians pyramids.

Ila’s dad (left), Architect Ariel Cohen & Partners at the construction site.
Ila’s dad (left), Architect Ariel Cohen & Partners at the construction site.
The tiny architect providing feedback to the team while working from home during COVID-19 times. Probably it is also embedded on her DNA.
The tiny architect providing feedback to the team while working from home during COVID-19 times. Probably it is also embedded on her DNA.

2. What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re the most proud of?
The 10th & O Street Office Building project in Sacramento is one of my biggest accomplishment to date. Not just because of the scale and complexity of the program, but also because of the contributions I have brought since the initial design competition, and the design phase, now accompanied with the immense learning on each step of the design process while working together with such a talented group of people from our firm, HOK and Hensel Phelps.

As architects and designers, we are used to working under pressure and dealing with multiple deadlines and project deliveries. However, for this project we had to be as fast as the speed of light. In such a short period of time our team was able to deliver a design that is not just innovative and sustainable, it is also beautiful, functionable, and state-of-the-art. So, I am really proud to be a team member on this specific project and can’t wait to see it built in 2021!

10th & Ost Building Rendering
10th & Ost Rendering.
Ila, Kristina and Jason at the Ost project
At the ground breaking with some D+B team members Kristina and Jason of the Ost Project.

3. What three words would your friends use to describe you?

After asking my closest friends and curating some content, here are the top words they used: Creative, Talented and Trustworthy; I’d have to say I’m flattered and that of course, I agree.

Starting with creative, I guess I’ve always had a tendency to see things differently, through another lens, and that has been paramount to problem solving across many different areas in my life…

On trustworthiness, I would say that it’s probably a derivation of a high degree of respect that I always give to every other human being in my life. Trustworthiness means that you show respect, you have strong values and those lead others to trust you… at least that’s how I have always seen it. If you allow me, I will add one myself and that is ”Active”. I am a super energetic person with tons of energy to burn, which I fully exhaust by pulling all-nighters with pen and paper on hand working on design projects. When I am not at the design table, I am a full time mom, and a teacher these days.

4. What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?
What I enjoy the most is spending time with my family. It doesn’t matter where, but the first choice is somewhere under the sun! I love the beach and I am used to the Miami tropical weather. However, these days you’ll find me at a park surrounded by nature, with some foldable chairs and always carrying a bag of snacks for everyone and of course with a camera on hand! My husband and I enjoy talking while Alice and our dog, Trooper, play around. But to avoid the risk of sounding lazy, I’ll add that we also play fetch with the four-legged son!

I have learned many things during quarantine and one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to enjoy every minute with the people you love. Hearing Alice laugh and Trooper bark together is pure magic. Not sure how they do it, but they somehow seem to understand each other so well!


Ila with her dog Trooper
Yes, they have a private paparazzi!
Ila and family. Somewhere under the sun.

5. If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?
– Safari (yes, I am super curious and love to search for things and bother google with questions)
– Pinterest (images that inspire you on a digital board, isn’t this genius?)
– Instagram (more images…simple way to keep connected with friends, trends, brands, news, etc)

Trooper. Looking suave.

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