Ignite/Create: Interview – Truitt Raun, Architect and Origami Master

by Tessa on June 10, 2015

During our Ignite/Create tour stop in Houston we had the chance to meet Truitt Raun, designer at Gensler, origami extraordinaire and winner of our Houston Paper Pendant Challenge. Afterwards, he agreed to chat with us and share his wisdom on creativity, design and turning your ideas into action. We hope his message inspires you as much as it inspired us.

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LightArt: Tell us your story.
Truitt: I grew up in a small town so there weren’t a ton of venues for understanding creative influences. I grew interested in origami at the age of 10 and it grew into a passion and then an expertise. Once I learned I could create my own origami designs it sparked a realization that I could design other things too. Eventually that turned into a design degree and a career in architecture.


LightArt: What made you want to be an architect?
Truitt: In first grade we went to Disney World where we visited a Japanese hibachi restaurant. They gave me a dollar bill folded into a frog and I unfolded it and then folded it back. I was immediately interested in origami and then in design.


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LightArt: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on and why? (work related or otherwise)
Truitt: From a couple of years ago before my daughter was born I started to enjoy kinetic sculpture so I designed and built a mobile. The mobile was a series of origami birds I perched on top of sticks. It took a ton of work to find the balance needed to make the piece work. I used thin black wire wrapped around the feet, which allowed me to slide the birds right and left because everything is off set from the center. Since mobiles are built from the bottom up this was crucial. Ultimately the piece worked out and it looked great.

I think that smaller pieces of art are more approachable. It’s so easy to come up with an idea and go ahead and get started right away. I don’t need large team or the right timing, I just start making something. If you draw something and leave it as an idea on a piece of paper it isn’t fun for anyone.  I really enjoy getting hands-on and trying new things.


LightArt: What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in your industry?
Truitt: In architecture I’m noticing that our design schedules are speeding up. As the schedule gets condensed, we’re investigating multiple design solutions all at once and pursuing all of them. When we’re well into the formal design process clients are still making changes to the design, that’s a big change for us. Because of this, our process needs to be flexible to quickly adapt to changes. We have to be fast and we have to utilize tools to be flexible and deliver good end results.

What is interesting about lots of the new products out there is that they are as adaptable as our new design process. We can come up with a new idea or concept and we can find a product to meet the exact demand. We are gravitating towards those types of products now – the products that give us a sense of freedom. We’re not just selecting from a catalog and saying “we’ll use this one” anymore.


LightArt:What are some of the biggest changes technology brings to what you love and what you do?
Truitt: Technology and tools today are allowing for rapid means of designing for complex problems. 3D modeling tools allow us to see the entire space before anything is built. More and more tools are allowing us to experience the space before we even design it. For clients, we’re able to put more info into models so things can change and develop. Parametric design tools are changing the way we work too. Now we can test out the results for everything we can do within a set of parameters. That’s not to say we’re not designing the form anymore, but we’re also designing what’s generating the forms. I see a big future for that sort of stuff.


LightArt: What does creativity mean to you?
Truitt: I like this question so I was thinking about it for quite a while. I think creativity is free thinking with no restrictions. It’s allowing your thoughts to run free and to develop over time. Eventually there’s an idea, but that idea is only an idea until you take action with it and have an actual physical result from it. It’s an entire process but it all starts with a deep thought and contemplation.


LightArt: How do you feel like your style/creativity has evolved over the years?
Truitt: As a child it was about following the rules and finding a set of instructions. Eventually that developed into critical thinking and understanding that I could be the one coming up with those sort of things. I came to understand the mathematics behind the design that I’m interested in. I gravitate toward more of a rule-based design, where I’m able to design in series and that series is based on a set of rules. I like to explore the results to find every possible outcome and then look at those outcomes and edit them down.

The passion comes from that sense of discovery – thinking “oh this could be possible!” or “oh I could do that!”. That’s the most rewarding part of being a designer or being creative – it’s that sense of discovery.




LightArt: What inspires you?
Truitt: I love to find geometric and natural patterns and think of ways I can use or manipulate them – those natural patterns have a certain beauty to them that can’t be criticized because they simply exist. It’s something that most people are able to understand and find beauty in without having to understand how it’s done. But there will always be people like me who look into it further.


LightArt: Are there any quotes you live by or that inspire you?
Truitt: An idea is only an idea until you take action.


LightArt: Who are some of your favorite designers and/or creatives?
Truitt: Carlo Scarpa – an architect who designed every aspect of spaces he created. He designed everything from the hardware that connects the handrails to the wall all the way up to using the concept of detail in the overall scheme of a space. It’s truly impressive. He had this acute attention to detail he was able to maintain throughout an entire space without repeating it (but using it in every way that was appropriate).


LightArt: Can you tell us some design blogs you visit for inspiration? (if any)
Truitt: I take a look at my daily rss feed. I like design oriented sites like Design Milk and then I also like Creative Applications and origami artists out there who I follow.


Truitt: I really appreciate what you all are doing – encouraging people to design and create. The maker movement is a pretty incredible movement and it’s really inspiring to get people away from being an observer and to give them the courage to get out there and try!


Ignite/Create – Interview: Chi Krneta, Architect and Dress Designer

by Tessa on June 2, 2015

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LightArt: Tell us your story.

Chi: I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a kid, but I’ve always been very pragmatic. In junior high I participated in an after-school program focused on building doll houses. Shortly after that I saw a set of floor plans for the first time. Of course that got me thinking about designing life-size houses. I started building doll houses out of cardboard and cereal boxes and realized I could really get into this architecture thing.

Then my parents told me that we’ve had lots of architects in my family and that one of our family members (who still practices) would come over for dinner to talk to me about my new found love. He brought me a t-square but also tried to dissuade me from going into architecture, explaining that architecture was a tough job that didn’t pay well. I still have that t-square today.

I went to WSU Architecture School and after a couple of internships, I landed one at Miller Hull and I’m still there today. I consider myself incredibly lucky to do what I love.


LightArt: What is your favorite project you’ve worked on to date?

Chi: The San San Ysidro Port of Entry. It’s the largest border crossing in the world. I worked on the first phase four years ago with a goal to increase capacity and make it function better. Due to the recession they cancelled the project, but now funding is back so we’re working on the next phase. I’m so excited to work on it.

I also loved working on the library in my hometown in Vancouver. I started it right after I graduated. Voters approved a new library in downtown, which was a struggling area at the time. The community agreed it was exactly what they needed so they decided to move the main library branch down there into a brand new, 80,000 square foot building.


LightArt: What trends do you see in architecture and design right now?

Chi: I see pragmatic trends. Many clients are trying to renovate existing buildings with tenant improvement projects or renovations. From a sustainability perspective it’s the best because we’re reusing instead of creating something new. I see lots of trends in sustainability as well. The new Bullitt Center at UW is a self-sustaining building. I think we’re going to see lots more of that.


LightArt: Tell us about your wedding dress.

Chi: When I was a kid I learned how to knit and crochet from my grandma who was a prolific knitter. I needed to find a way to pass time on the bus so I started crocheting a bunch of things like scarves and hats and stuff. I thought maybe I could even do my wedding dress and people were like “Really? You want to do a wedding dress? Isn’t that kind of 70s?” But I thought I could make it not so 70’s, so I gave it a shot.

I started making clothes when I was a teenager. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so my mom taught me how to sew. If I wanted clothes I had to make them myself. When I started going to architecture school the concept of designing my own stuff hit me. I realized I have this design knowledge, so instead of following patterns I figured I would try and design things myself.

With that in mind, I thought about how to make my wedding dress function better because I didn’t want to have to dry clean it all the time. I wanted to make it out of something that I could easily care for. I decided to go with thread because it’s easy to maintain.

I think the idea that with thread, a hook, and a stick I can make my own wedding dress is pretty awesome. Things need to be practical, they have to function well and they have to fit well. Crochet and knitting have been around for hundreds of years, and people don’t realize what versatile techniques they are. With knitting and crocheting, the learning curve isn’t as steep and it’s cheap. I also really love that you can do it anywhere (vs. sewing).


LightArt: Did people ask you what you were doing when you were making a wedding dress on a bus??

Chi: Not too many people! That’s the thing about Seattle folks, most people around here keep to themselves. One person asked if I was making a table cloth though!


LightArt: How long did it take you to complete the dress?

Chi: In total it took me 200 hours.


LightArt: We see that your wedding dress became pretty popular once you showed it to the world. Tell us about that.

Chi: My dress was posted to some blogs and then to news networks. After that, people started asking if I had the pattern for it because they want to make their own. I went back and counted all the stitches on my dress and made a pattern in both eastern style, which is a graphic pattern detail and then western style, which was a written pattern detail.  I realized that it’s a lot like following an architectural blueprint! I just released it at the beginning of March and it is SO interesting to see how everyone interprets it as their own. I see different shapes and sizes and a variety of “site issues” as I like to call them. I like to think that the garment should work for the person just like the building should work with the site. I love how beautifully the process of design works with architecture and how many of the same principles apply with the fashion industry.


LightArt: How has your style changed over the years?

Chi: Well for one I’m better dressed now. Once I started working at a firm I started paying attention to what I looked like. Now I figure since I’m an arbiter of design I better make sure I’m personally well-designed! I’m still trying to define my own look or style and looking at ways to bring vintage style into the modern style of work that I do.


LightArt: What inspires you?

Chi: All the things that I see around me, especially in architecture and in clothing.


LightArt: Do you have any quotes that inspire you?

Chi: “Less is more” – It speaks to the design goals that I aspire to in aesthetic and functional categories…I’ve always been trying to do more with less. In my job I’m constantly pushed by clients to do more with less, I think that’s why crochet speaks to me so much.


LightArt: Do you have any favorite designers?

Chi: Louis Kahn and Lily Yang.


LightArt: Favorite design blogs?

Chi: Definitely Inhabitat.


To learn more about Chi’s story, check this out.


Ignite/Create – Interview: Aureleo Rosano, Artist

by Zach on May 5, 2015

As we made our way though the Southwest, we stopped in Tucson, AZ to talk with Aureleo Rosano, a mosaic and sculpture artist. Watch as he shares his wisdom regarding creativity, adventure, and life lessons in general –plus a taste of “the world’s best ice cream.”

A huge thanks to Aureleo and Angela for their generous hospitality!

Want to read more about Aureleo’s thoughts on creativity? Check out his blog here: http://rosano.org/blog/creative-mind/

See Aureleo’s work at rosano.org.

Ignite/Create – Interview: Brandon Guzman, Architect

by Zach on April 30, 2015

During our time in LA, we stopped to chat with Brandon Guzman, an architect with SmithGroup JJR. Watch as we discuss the creative spark, cross-disciplinary inspiration, and this Texan’s surprise at LA’s oil wells.

As a bonus, we also hear about his use of LightArt’s LA2 Connected modular fixtures in designing the new SmithGroup LA office.

Ignite/Create – Event: Sacramento, CA

by Zach on April 8, 2015

Check out the latest video of our Sacramento event. One of our early stops as we headed down the West Coast, Sacramento was a fun and lively event. Watch the creativity unfold as designers and architects from the area take on our Paper Pendant Challenge and play with Studio design tiles.

Hosted by LightArt, 3form, and Studio by 3form.

Ignite/Create – The Van

by Zach on March 18, 2015

Wonder what the heck that crazy chrome van was in our last post?

Say hello to our mobile creation station!

We outfitted a Sprinter van to be a rolling version of our Seattle Studio. It comes complete with a laser cutter, heat-forming oven, 3form material samples, tools, lighting demos, solar panels to power the fun, and so much more. We then topped it all off with a killer vinyl wrap and a bangin’ stereo system!

See more at ignite-create.com –it might be stopping near you!


Ignite/Create: Compendium, Seattle

by Zach on March 16, 2015

We just launched our Ignite/Create 2015 tour. Last week we were in Sacramento, and we’ll be in Los Angeles this week. Before hitting the road, however, we took our Paper Pendant Challenge to Compendium, a creative local company here in Seattle. Check out the video below to see the magic! More tour updates and videos to come soon. Stay tuned.

Learn more about Compendium at http://www.live-inspired.com/

#ignitecreate ignite-create.com


A Flurry of Creativity

by Zach on January 7, 2015

Rather than forcing yourself to the gym this January, why not try a new resolution? Why not do something different, yet equally important? While we’re all for keeping our bodies healthy, what good is a healthy body without a healthy brain? After all, your mind needs stretching too! This new year, it’s time to ignite your creativity.

Creativity is an important part of life, education and what inspires all of us on an every day basis. At LightArt, we believe that all people can be creative if they let themselves, no matter what age, profession, or experience level. Creativity is like a fire. It’s fueled by a spark, an urge to see ideas become a reality. With a little kindling – the right setting, the right tools, and the right materials – that spark can ignite anyone’s creativity.

To honor our mantra, we decided to practice what we preach and we challenged everyone in our studio to create their own paper pendant in less than 30 minutes, using an inexpensive pendant assembly and ordinary office supplies. The results were amazing (and the super fun confetti blower made them even more amazing.)

The best part is, you can do the same! Anyone can use scissor, tape, and paper. It doesn’t have to be a light fixture. It doesn’t even have to look good! The mental exercise is more important than the final product. Set aside some time in your day, even just 30 minutes, and try something. Anything. Give yourself a challenge, a time limit, and force yourself to make something. Do this as often as you have time for. Try a different design each time. Once again, it does not have to look good! It’s just paper. Paper is cheap. Exercising your brain is priceless.

Ignite your creativity.


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