Reconnecting to the Physical
Bringing branded environments and broadcast sets to life is no small task. Over the years Provost Studio has created an international reputation for attacking each project from a strategic, idea-driven angle, for-going any specific style to their practice. This allows the details of their work to not only fit in seamlessly with any client’s organization, but help to elevate and embody the values, identity, and culture within it.
What inspired your career choice?
I spent a lot of time as a kid in my grandpa’s basement woodshop tinkering with him on all kinds of projects. He also worked full-time as a foreman in a metal fabrication shop and I used to go to work with him and spend the days walking the shop floor. Looking back…I think my interest in craftsmanship, attention to detail and how things are made, that seed, was planted very early on. Even in the work that we are doing in the studio, this same fascination with detail (surface, texture, lighting) is consistently prevalent. I think it’s also the reason why I lean more toward interior architecture and working at a more immediate scale.
When did you first know this was for you?
Still waiting for the lightning bolt on that one actually…But seriously, I think my understanding of what design was about began the summer before my last year in high school. I was looking to do something different for the summer break, in addition to working as an ice cream scooper (no really), and saw that Carnegie Mellon had a summer program in design, art and architecture. I thought it looked interesting and signed up. It was structured as a project-based design studio and after the first week I was hooked. I loved the fact that all of the disciplines seemed to be interconnected. The curriculum wasn’t as much about designing “buildings” or the “house” but it really tried to get us to look closely at the everyday world around us and consider the broader impact of design on our surroundings. I was sold.
How do you go about starting a new project?
Asking lots of questions and brainstorming ideas. For us, design is all about process and iteration. Very rarely is the first solution we develop the last, which eventually gets built. On the best day, the studio is a test kitchen of sorts, experimenting and testing.
Who’s the best in the game now?
We are working on multiple projects in China right now. Specifically, we are focused on interior architecture and scenic environments for broadcast television clients. On my most recent trip to Changsha, I made a drive to Zaha Hadid Architects recently completed “cultural complex”. It blew me away and reminded me of the power of architecture and design to truly define unique, exciting places and spaces for people to experience. Quite simply (and this sounds cheesy), it reinvigorated me and reinforced our studio’s approach to always try to push the boundaries of what’s possible. I think it’s important in this oversaturated technological virtual/digital world that we live in…. to create exceptional places and spaces that re-connect us to physical world.
What’s one material you think is really underrated?
Straight up MDF (medium density fiberboard.) It’s like the melba toast of materials. But in the right hands…or on the right CNC table…, amazing things can happen.
Have you been experimenting with new forms in your practice?
Although widely used in interiors and architecture these days, rapid prototyping and digital fabrication techniques in scenic design and broadcast environments are largely unexplored and untapped. We are continuing to integrate form-making with Grasshopper and others into our process. As much of our work in this field is commissioned through a design-build delivery process, we are very close to the making process and can control how the work is performed.