Architecture’s Long Relationship with Furniture and Product Design Reminds Us of Alternative Career Paths for Architects | News


An architectural education provides a specific level of skills and expertise that individuals can use and leverage outside of traditional employment formats. Take furniture making and product design, for example. This longstanding relationship between architects who delve into furniture and product design can be seen in pieces like the Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe, the iconic line of chairs by the Eames, the Mesa table by Zaha Hadid or my Eero Aarnio’s favorite ball chair.

This fusion of craftsmanship and discipline has offered people with a background in architecture to pursue other branches of design to satisfy their creative interests. In Archinect’s Working Out of the Box series, we had the opportunity to speak with several architects and designers who have steered their professional interests towards specialized craft-related disciplines such as textile design, sculpture and furniture/product design. We learn how valuable and multifaceted an architecture education can be through these interviews and conversations.

Ballroom chair by Eero Aarnio. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons CC BY 2.5

So, if one wants to enter the field of furniture and product design, what should one do and where to start? Well, the team at Brooklyn-based furniture design studio OTTRA, which is currently hiring, explains, “maybe you’re an architect and want to try something different.” OTTRA, an entity of the architecture and design studio – Zimmerman Workshop, has been designing objects such as tables, seats and modular shelves since 2017.

The practice echoes the importance of illustrating ideas and bringing them to life. OTTRA shares, “We need an expert in Rhino, Autocad and the Adobe suite that requires no software training. We need someone who can take a concept sketch and execute it. CNC programming will be necessary as well as occasional operating support. At times you may be asked to operate the CNC machines depending on the workload.” They also add that having experience in a carpentry and carpentry shop in a commercial environment is a plus.

Table of the catenary collection. Image courtesy of OTTRA

Image courtesy of OTTRA

Like most architectural work, understanding how to turn ideas drawn on paper into physical works is vital for any budding furniture and product designer. From prototyping to manufacturing, studios specializing in the design of objects and furniture use scale differently. Rather than focusing on larger-than-life designs that become part of the architectural fabric of cities and spaces, furniture and product designers create pieces that are used and integrated into everyday life a little differently.

Restaurant located in the South Congress Hotel in Austin, TX. Image courtesy of Studio MAI

Take the multidisciplinary design team, Studio MAI, for example. Since 2008, they have been creating specialist design objects and furniture for chefs and hotel owners. The Los Angeles-based studio is currently recruiting a furniture and product designer to join its team. The design group shares that they are looking for a designer with a basic understanding of residential and/or commercial construction methods and at least 6 years experience in furniture design and production. As an interior, product and manufacturing company specializing in hospitality, Studio MAI has worked with clients including MADE Hotel, Verve Coffee Roasters, Inko Nito and the South Congress Hotel.

As part of Archinect’s Jobs Highlights series, we feature job opportunities for people with a background in architecture who are exploring other ways to apply their skills beyond an architectural practice. traditional architecture. Stay up to date with our latest coverage of exciting opportunities on the Archinect Job Board by following the Interesting Jobs tag.

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