The principal of a firm currently working in New York City, Jeff Straesser has a solid resume for someone in the architecture field.
He obtained a graduate degree at Yale, worked in a number of studios across the country, and was even part of the team at Resolution 4: Architecture who won a contest sponsored by Dwell magazine to design a modern modular home. He could probably be working on a variety of residential or institutional projects, but he’d rather focus on finding ways to get you interested in cycling.
Straesser isn’t a salesman. As one of the lead architects working at Eight Inc., a multidisciplinary experiential design studio, he focuses on creating branded environments, new retail spaces, and new experiences for companies and organizations such as Shimano, a bicycle parts maker, the school charity Donors Choose, and Apple (his firm was approached by Steve Jobs years ago to help create the company’s now-famous retail outlets). He’s far outside what he considers traditional, siloed architecture, and he loves the opportunity
“I’m really intrigued working at a place where architecture is a piece of the puzzle,” he says. “When you have to factor your work into branding, communication, and digital technology, it’s a much more intriguing proposition.”
Eight Inc. is one of many firms working in the emergent field of experiential design. Combining architecture, branding, graphics, event production, and digital technology, it’s a hybrid of design and marketing that’s been around for roughly a decade.
Arising as part of the confluence of numerous trends—advances in mobile and display technology; the demise of traditional retail; the millennial preference for experiences; and tech firms looking to expand their brands into the physical world—the discipline is offering architects a new way to practice and new opportunities alongside designers and marketers.
“It’s more about traditional architects realizing it’s not enough to design something that’s visibly compelling,” says Straesser. “It’s about bringing all these other considerations into design experiences.”
Subscribe to our FREE online news service dedicated to producing essential up to date news for the construction, building, and design community.