There’s a difference between a job and a career. And then there’s the leap of faith to realise a calling.
It’s that mythical, almost mystical pull to follow your gifts and fulfil a dream, despite the inevitable adversity. Cesar Alvarez Solis heard that siren song when he was just five years old.
Growing up in Costa Rica, Aston Milan’s director of design was an ever-present little soul by the side of his grandfather, who owned the premier hardware store in the city. Watching architects, builders and tradesmen come and go each day, Cesar finally asked the fateful question: “Grandpa, who gets to draw the houses?”
He heard the answer like a clarion call. A designer was what he must be. And that calling is what distinguishes Cesar’s work. He creates not houses, but homes. Not just structures, but a work of art with soul.
“From that day on when I was just a little boy, I was always drawing houses. The teachers could not understand why I would not draw anything else. But to me, nothing is more beautiful,” says Cesar. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor, a businessman, a pilot – they couldn’t understand my passion. I tried to follow their dreams in university but finally I realised I had to be true to my heart. “I changed my degree and changed my life.”
Completing his degree in architecture at the Costa Rican Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design in New York City, Cesar’s award-winning career is equally as international. From North America, Central America, London, India and Asia – where he studied the principles of Feng Shui – and ultimately to Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Cesar has followed his calling around the world.
After working at a number of prestigious firms in Australia, Cesar found himself at Aston Milan. And as soon as he met their Director Grant Fielder, he knew he had found his new home. “I just had an instant connection with him. I could completely understand what he wanted to do with his company, where he wanted to take it and what he wanted to provide to their clients – and that I could be the man to help them build that dream,” says Cesar.
“In a way, it’s the same thing I do for clients. I listen to what they want, to what they need, and I figure out a way to make it happen. “Working here has been a dream for me too. I have had many individual successes but I’ve never been truly part of a team the way that we are here.”
Despite designing homes around the world, Cesar insists he does not have a signature style. His aim instead is to design the client’s signature style. Living in so many different countries and speaking multiple languages means he has undergone an entire education in listening and communication. It is this ability which enables him to ‘read’ his clients’ dreams.
“It’s like psychology in a way. I need to know the questions to ask and the answers to listen for, so that I know what they are looking for. “It’s not about trends. My homes are as unique as my clients. Because the design is all about how my clients live. “I am there to guide them, but not tell them. My belief is that I must never say no and I must always find the solution.”
When you have a designer you can trust, you can take it on faith that your home will be a masterplanned masterpiece for your individual tastes.
That’s not just Cesar’s job, it’s his calling.