Alongside partners Loris Ognibene and Boris Mathias, Kazakhstan-born, Toronto-based Tatiana Sheveleva co-founded international award-winning firm Chapi Chapo Design in 2011. Ognibene, a Toronto native, Mathias, who hails from Paris, and Sheveleva, who studied in Canada, all bring architecture and design expertise from their varying backgrounds, experiences and global influences.
It’s likely avid travelers have seen or experienced Chapi Chapo’s design even without knowing, as the firm’s portfolio includes the Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City; The St. Regis Toronto; Four Seasons Toronto Residences; and more. They’ve also worked with brands like Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Baccarat and Andaz and design high-end residences, restaurants, retail spaces, spas and wellness clubs.
When approaching a project, Sheveleva doesn’t believe in infusing her and her co-founders’ personal tastes into projects, but instead focuses on timeless design. Chapi Chapo’s current new projects include The St. Regis Cap Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic, opening in 2024; the highly anticipated St. Regis Kanai in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, opening in early 2023; and The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraire, opening in Q4 of 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona where the firm designed the bars and restaurants.
“When we get a project, the inspiration comes from the client and the location,” she tells Robb Report. “For example, the St. Regis Cap Cana is the brand’s first luxury hotel in the Dominican Republic. We spend a lot of time researching the location and understanding the local culture. For us, we want to create something at the resort that is unique and tells the stories of the location and culture through materiality and colors.”
One of her proudest projects is the St. Regis Kanai in Mexico, which she calls her “breakthrough” project. She and her team have been working on the Mayan Riviera property for seven years, which is situated within a 620-acre nature reserve. The hotel is built over a mangrove and the architecture of the resort, which from above looks like modern intersecting circles built from white concrete, is inspired by the geometry of the local mangroves, as well as the Mayan constellation Pleiades, the celestial birthplace of the Mayans. Chapi Chapo worked in tandem with architecture firm Edmonds International, who conceptualized the concept. It’s a project close to her heart.
On any project Sheveleva tackles, she hopes to create an immersive journey, whether it’s incorporating a never-before-seen local stone or creating a dramatic moment in something as simple as a bathroom. Above all, she looks at challenges as opportunity and embraces innovation. She distills this desire to excel down to her mother.
“My mom was a great example of a strong independent woman who worked in a government job in Kazakhstan with a hundred people under her,” she says. “I never felt discrimination for being a woman in a male dominated industry until my first job when I discovered my male counterpart made 40 percent more than me. People, unfortunately, treat women differently than men. Despite my accomplishments with Chapi Chapo, I still attend meetings where I’m the only woman in a room of 20 men. Unfortunately, we need to work much harder to earn the same amount of respect.”
Perhaps what she credits to her success is her confidence in delivering phenomenal work.
“I’m a strong, ambitious and confident woman, and I don’t have to apologize for that,” she says.