Today we’d like to introduce you to Abraham Moreno.
Abraham, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I would like to pay homage to our late founder, Henry Rafael Carbajal. He not only was the founder of H&S but also my father. The story of H&S Workshop is not one that can be told in a straight line. The story goes back to the early ’90s and really transforms itself throughout the years. It wasn’t until recently, in Feb 2020, H&S Workshop began its second life.
It is only honest to begin with the man who started it all. Henry Carbajal was an artist at heart, and a craftsman by trade. He was the type of man who can create a beautiful portrait of a person using pastels, and frame a roof all in the same day. Crazy, I know, but true. He was a man of many trades, but art was at the fundamental root of it all. Throughout his years of working in the building industry, his peers, knowing of his love and talent in art, recommended he take up architectural drafting. Henry was not a technical drafter, nor received a formal education in architecture. But what he lacked from formal education, he made up for in experience; accumulating roughly 30 years in total of design and construction. I still can hear him telling me, ‘if you can’t build it, how are you supposed to draw it? Drawing and building go hand-in-hand.’
In the early ’90s, Henry put down the tool bag and began his venture in architectural drafting. Through the years, he began to transition from hand-drafting to CAD (computer-aided drafting). What began as Henry’s Drafting and now known as H&S Workshop, is something that still strikes me today. I recall being in high-school and helping my father measure houses, drafting up as-builds, and sitting in on design meetings. Little did I know at the time, he was setting me up for what I now do every day.
It was without question that once I graduated high school, I was to apply for Architecture school. Knowing my father was not a licensed architect, nor received a formal education, I knew that it was something I not only wanted to get but needed. From here, I applied to NewSchool of Architecture and Design, and five years later received my Bachelor of Architecture.
While working towards my degree, I would assist my father with his firm. Back then, the firm was named Henry’s Drafting. But after years went by, he changed the name to H&S Design. My father said it stood for Henry and Son, but my mother always joked stating it stands for Henry and Sandy (her name of course, and she was probably right). These years of College and a sort of internship at my father’s firm was gearing me up to work with him after graduation. I was ready to take on the world as a father + son dual.
But life had other plans. Within months of me graduating in 2013, unexpectedly, my father passed away. H&S suddenly stopped being. My mother, two sisters, and I were at a standstill trying to process how to move on from this tragedy. Taking over my father’s clients and going full time was very enticing, but I was 23, no post-college experience in architecture, let alone no whereabouts on how to run a company. It was easy to say that working for another firm was the best thing for me to do. My goal was to learn as much about architecture, construction, and management as possible. At least until I was ready to start my own.
Shortly after, I began working full time at a design/build firm for approximately five years. During these five years, I learned management styles (the good and bad), learned the process of design/build, learned about permitting, and everything I can about the design and construction industry. Along with the experience, I was also able to complete all my AXP hours necessary to begin taking my architectural exams. The path to licensure was moving forward and opening my own firm was on the horizon. It was a wonderful time of learning and gaining experience, but the best thing that came during these five years was meeting my wife, and now partner, Susi Moreno.
Fast forward to the end of the five years, Susi and I began to evaluate our goals and objectives for the foreseeable future. And through a lot of prayer and faith, we decided it was best to take a chance on ourselves and take this venture head-on. Deciding we want to formalize H&S was a whole process. We began to reflect on who we wanted to be as a company. And yes, H&S does stand for Henry and Son, but it is more than that. It embodies the idea of a family company. Here is where we knew we wanted to continue with H&S, but incorporating design into our name was not our first choice. My wife and I knew we wanted to be more than a design company. We want to get into development, products, missionary work, furniture, you name it, we want to do it. And because of that, we felt that the name workshop allows for multiple disciplines to be worked under one roof.
Our story is evolving, and we pride ourselves on that. We are more than designers drafting on computers or by hand. Yes, we are designers by trade, but artists at heart. If you visit our shop, you can hear the table saw running in the background, the vinyl playing softly, you’ll see someone on the desk drafting, and last but not least, you can see our shop pup getting into trouble.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Some challenges we encountered early on and truthfully, still tackling till this day are as follows: how to stay true to our craft (creating beautiful, yet, well-informed drawings), brand identity, and optimizing the client experience; our goal is a happy client – how to achieve this?
Like most design firms, we live by deadlines. Learning how to stay ahead of them while still providing well-informed drawings is a constant challenge. Two important factors to staying ahead of deadlines is open communication and an organized office.
Though we are a working shop, it is not unusual to see sketches all over the desks, redlined plans pinned on the wall, and the occasional wood model being chewed up by our office pup. We like to think he is doing quality control…
H+S Workshop – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
H+S Workshop is a multidisciplinary firm, based in Los Angeles.
Being a multidisciplinary firm gives us the freedom to practice across different disciplines, specializing in residential, multifamily developments, restaurants, product design, and furniture fabrication. Our definition of a successful project means the design we build or the product we provide enhances the life of the user and its environment.
We strive to create the happiest experience for the client through the entire design and construction process. To ensure this, we collaborate with a licensed contractor to provide a complete design-build experience. By doing this, we found it has expedited construction, creates an open/transparent line of communication, and allows us to stay true to the overall design intent.
We pride ourselves in preaching that great design should be accessible to everyone, regardless of scale, budget, and location. Ultimately, we are artists, makers, and continuously learning.
- Website: www.hsworkshop.com
- Phone: (323) 452-1102
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: hs.workshop