Designer Feature: Ryan Hammerschmidt of Method Studio

As part of our new series, which features interviews of talented local Architects and Designers, we sat down with Ryan Hammerschmidt, an architect at Method Studio in Salt Lake City to hear his thoughts on life, hobbies, and the value of design.

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1. If you weren't a designer, what would you be? 

I have major career wanderlust. I think fine art is the most likely: painting, illustration, sculpture. I’ve enjoyed fiction writing as a new side pursuit of mine, including some illustrated stories/graphic novels. I have a gut feeling I would have loved a career in music, though I have no training in it. 

2. What’s at the top of your bucket list right now?

Publishing a book (one of my illustrated works) with a legit publishing house. 

3. What’s your favorite vacation destination? 

The Beach: staying at a beach-house, very close to the shore for a minimum of one full week and doing nothing but play in the ocean and lounging in the sand with brief trips back to the beach-house (and repeat). Ideally, doing nothing else. 

4. What brought you to the interior (architecture) design field and what keeps you there? 

I’ve always loved art and creative work since I was little. I got a B+ on a two-point perspective drawing assignment in 8th grade Art class. It was a unique, almost magical, feeling to create a realistic representation of a world that existed in my imagination by using the rules of perspective drawing. Something like that feeling keeps me here, in dreaming up an architectural concept as a part of the design team and seeing it become real. 

5. Describe your personal aesthetic in three words. 

Words from a Robert Frost poem come to mind, “Lovely, Dark, and Deep”. My personal aesthetic tends toward the baroque: sharp contrasts in light and dark, a little moody.

6. Which color scheme are you into most at the moment? 

Generally, I’m a sucker for complementary color schemes, especially split- complementary schemes. I’m pretty open minded about all colors (to a fault) but I often feel automatically uneasy about specific “trendy” color schemes, even if I like them. Not that I’m proud of this.

7. List one tip for keeping your design passion fresh. 

Actively pursue a creative passion that has at least one full degree of separation from your professional work. It’s critical that you genuinely enjoy it, that it doesn’t feel like a “chore”, and you don’t expect to be paid for it (at least not right away). And do it ― a lot. There is a kind of inspiration (not sure that’s the right word) that only comes when you are creating something you really want to do, and do on your own terms. 

8. What’s the best design advice you’ve ever been given? 

Most criticism can be useful, even feedback that gets it wrong. Avoid knee jerk defensiveness to protect your ego. Even bad or misguided feedback offers an opportunity to evaluate the reasons you made design decisions. If you can clearly think through or express the reasons you disagree, then it’s worth the effort. Also, even jerks sometimes have good feedback (that’s what I like to tell people when I give them feedback).

9. Which designer do you admire most? 

The Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. To me he is as much an artist as he is a “designer” and “architect”. I wouldn’t say that about a lot of designers whose work I love. 

10. Where do you go for design inspiration? 

I get a lot of design inspiration from art museums, especially the really good ones. Of all the great museums on the East Coast, when I lived there, I always felt drawn to the NY Met for inspiration. I can’t get enough of that place. I wish I could travel more for inspiration. Also, I find Pinterest to be very useful. My Pinterest wall usually has more art than design content on it.