Architecture is a field with a wide variety of possible pathways and careers. Today we will focus our attention on the closely related field of Interior Architecture. What exactly is Interior Architecture you ask? That’s what we will be discussing, so we’ve invited a special guest to give us the lowdown. Get ready to learn all about this branch of design. Welcome to Episode 105: Interior Architecture.
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A graduate from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Joey Shimoda is today’s guest and a practicing architect in the firm Shimoda Design Group, an architecture and interiors design studio he co-founded with his partner Susan Chang 22 years ago at a live/work warehouse in the burgeoning Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. The firm grew from inside to out, steadily gaining a reputation for innovative workplace interiors, history-conscious building renovations, and bold, forward-looking creative campuses.
Joey has been elevated to Fellow in the American Institute of Architects as well as being elevated to Fellow in the International Interior Design Association, both of which are the highest and most prestigious honors those institutions can bestow on their members.
What Is Interior Architecture? jump to 3:02
Sometimes just combining those words can cause tension. For many, there is an inherent tension between the inside and the outside. Joey does not see them as separate elements because they are both parts of Architecture. He has never really made that distinction. Early in his education, all the architects he admired, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Paul Rudolph, and others, did not view design as something that stopped at the door. Interior architecture addresses another set of questions that “exterior” architecture does not. Nevertheless, they are undoubtedly interrelated and should not be specifically separated. Interior architecture is about how you occupy space and how space makes you feel. We as humans spend so much time indoors, and these interior spaces should be even more interesting than the views from them.
Interior architecture also moves at a much faster pace than architecture. Projects in this area are shorter and iterate much quicker than their building-focused counterpart. This was one of the elements that drew Joey into this area of the profession. It allowed for more exploration in the same time frame as the typical building design and construction cycle. So the ability to learn more and learn it a bit faster than in the typical career path is also a critical difference that sets interior architecture apart.
Choosing Interior Architecture and Education? jump to 10:59
Joey did not necessarily choose to be an interior architect. He did not attend school for this focus area during his college years. However, he was able to work for some very strong interior architects during his early education and his early career. This experience impacted him and his decision to pursue this path. At the same time, there are some pathways where you can directly study interior architecture in higher education or even get a degree in interiors. Joey feels that either path is a way to get to interior architecture. In recent years, Joey feels like there is a new feeling of collaboration between interiors and exteriors. He believes there will not be a separation in the future, even in the design and development of these elements. Another component pushing interior architecture to the forefront is this notion of existing building stock and infrastructure. The culture is shifting that we are not as inclined to tear this existing fabric down and rebuild, so the interiors are becoming more important.
A Day in the Life of an Interior Architect? jump to 25:32
For the longest time, Joey lived IN his studio in a room at the back of this office space. While he no longer lives in the studio, he hasn’t moved too far away as he has an apartment above the studio. This presents an unusual situation for someone who lives in LA because he has no commute. So he is able to start his day by walking his dog around and getting to know the community in which he lives and works. His work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, especially the work on office spaces. He spends many parts of his day in the studio discussing and thinking about the future of these spaces and how they will continue to change. Also, because his office is small, they have daily “meet-ups” to discuss all the work in the office and keep everyone engaged in the process of design on all office projects. His office, like many, has become more flexible since the pandemic. His goal for each day and project is “Did we do something good? Did we do something interesting?” Joey knows that is a hard road, and it’s not easy to achieve any level of excellence when it comes to design. Certainly, with the number of people architects must manage when it comes to creating and building a project.
What’s the Best part of being an Interior Architect? jump to 30:37
The best part for joey is that I do not have to define myself as an interior architect solely. We design many other things, whether products or master plans. However, the best part about all of it is the problem-solving aspect of every project. How is this one different than the last? How is this going to improve the way that people use the space? It is all a mental challenge, and that is fun! It’s the part that Joey enjoys the most in all parts of design.
And the most Frustrating Part? jump to 38:14
The most frustrating part of being an interior architect or even just a designer at the moment is a growing trend in this notion that everyone has an equal voice. Joey doesn’t think of this as an equity and diversity issue but more about this emerging “democratization” of design. This has contributed (maybe unintentionally) to watered-down solutions and conversations about projects. Another issue is that the tools we use to share with our clients make things so realistic and appear so easy to manipulate that we are almost consistently asked to change the design. These changes are more about personal taste is the reaction to the products that we share. These changes are not in any way related to the design vision and ideas that the studio had about the project. It is frustrating because it negates the designer’s power and ability to make decisions based on knowledge and ideas that go well beyond the image or graphic. In many ways, this has diminished the ideas behind the designs.
Let’s Discuss Your Workflow. jump to 41:26
Joey likes for his team to get into three-dimensional work early in the process. He believes that you can learn so much from models. While he learned this lesson in school building physical models, he now gets his projects into SketchUp quickly as a way to model the spaces and see how they can come together. We discuss some other processes and the intricacies of colors and material selections. Also, there is some discussion about how many options you provide to a client. Joey makes a great point that, in many instances, the only thing a client is capable of doing is to ask for another option. So this idea of presenting options to clients is up for interpretation by all three of us. We can not reach a consensus about the best approach to presenting options to clients. Joey thinks that fluidity or flexibility in this area is essential when it comes to options for interior surfaces. Yet, as long as the spaces do not change (scale, proportion, etc.), the materials can provide different desired outcomes and experiences.
What the Rank jump to 58:23
While today’s ranking may change over time, we tried to nail down our all-time favorite go-to cocktails for any occasion. It seems most of our occasions for drinking are happy ones.
What are your Top 3 Cocktails?
|Bob’s Top 3 Cocktails||Margarita (Frozen with salt)||Bourbon Old Fashioned||Gin and Tonic|
|Andrew’s Top 3 Cocktails||White Russian||Gin and Tonic||Jalapeno Gin Gimlet|
We both realized we could have easily had a top four as we struggled a bit with the number 3 slot for this one. Bob wavered on Mojito, and I thought about another Caribbean frozen drink called a Dirty Banana. In the end, we chose drinks that were top for us. While I will admit my top choice is not a drink I have with a high frequency, it is my favorite to drink when I have the opportunity. While Bob chose his number one as the drink he consumes with the most consistency and has enjoyed for the longest time. So we differed a little in how we got to our number one cocktail. I must admit there are some surprises for both of us on this list, as I was unaware that G&T would be Bob’s number one. He also assumed that gin & tonic would be my number one, so he was at a bit of a loss there. Of course, I think Bob would be quick to point out that my number one choice is a very, if not overly, specific drink. I am not sure if that was against the rules or intent, but that is what I chose. I can also say that I believe that these top drinks are entirely impacted by the climate in which we both live, which is hot and humid a large majority of the year. So we both opted for lighter, refreshing drinks than heavy with a two-to-one ratio for us both in our selections.
Ep 105: Interior Architecture
Today’s episode was a great conversation with Joey Shimoda, and while we deviated a bit from our original plan for the conversation, it ended up providing some solid advice for those who might be interested in pursuing interior architecture as a career within the profession of architecture. This could be your first choice or maybe even an alternative path that presented itself along your more traditional path in architecture. The opportunity to work in a faster-paced area of the field seemed to be one of the major appeals to Joey and helped him choose this direction. In addition, the discussion hopefully clarified the idea that interior architecture is still architecture and can be an integral part of the overall experience of any building or project. That seems like a no-brainer to me, but according to Joey, some might think otherwise. So I am glad we could set the record straight. Once again, thanks so much to Joey Shimoda for taking the time to have this conversation with us.
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