Interview: Architect Steve Robinson of Axios Architecture
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As you might imagine, the definition and look of “modern” architecture varies wildly between regions. We may be a nation of united states, but we’re hardly a nation of united design styles, and that’s never been so clear as when you move between climates and cultures. In order to fan the flames of the modern design discussion and celebrate how wonderfully diverse the word “modern” really is, we’ve delved into our 2M Directory to find an architect doing beautiful work in Atlanta, Georgia: Steve Robinson of Axios Architecture.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Steve and the likes of such architectural geniuses as Frank Lloyd Wright and E. Fay Jones. What they all have in common is a reverence for nature and creating structures that have conversations with their natural surroundings…not stick out, but not blend in too much either. Steve really hesitates to use the word “modern” too much in describing his work, because he doesn’t want to alienate folks who might consider modern design too sparse or too cold. We don’t think he has too much to worry about, because his work is nothing but warm, comforting, simple and sincere. We really liked hearing about Steve’s processes, what he treasures most about working with clients and what he has in store for the future of his design firm. Listen to it all yourself in our audio interview:
Our podcast music is “Bad Attraction” by Brad Sucks, licensed for use undermCreative Commons license
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Don’t quite feel like listening to the interview? We got you covered with a transcript below, as usual. And be sure to check out Steve’s firm Axios Architecture on the 2M Directory, as well as find your own rockin’ designer from your area.
2Modern: We’ve got architect Steve Robinson today. His Atlanta-based firm Axios Architecture works on a variety of projects, focusing on single-family residential architecture. We like his style, but we also like his design philosophies. Thank you so much for being here.
Steve Robinson: Well thank you.
2M: So when did you first realize you were interested in architecture?
SR: Well for me it showed up pretty early in life, certainly by the time I was in high school I was showing an aptitude and interest in doing that. I spent a lot of time just sort of studying the world around me and even though there wasn’t a technical drafting school or classes available to me where I went to school, I just started picking that up naturally and got the equipment and in 9th or 10th grade designed things and tried to draw them and document them and figure things out; I’ve always loved that.
2M: Well I love your philosophies about design and architecture and creating someone’s home. Could you tell me a little bit about how you approach design?
SR: Well for me, I guess I approach it at a couple of different levels. The first level is…I look at the world as a created world, and I look at what we see in nature as an expression of that creator. So what we get to do with design is sort of re-express our understanding of that. So I really like the idea of focusing in on the big picture of an environment that we get to make, as we understand it from the environment that’s been given to us—to the nature that’s been given to us. Then I couple that with…you know one of the reasons I focus on houses is because I really like working on projects where people engage heavily into the project. And there’s a lot of ownership of one’s own house and how they live every day, for example. So a big part of my approach to design is trying to understand what makes people tick. What gets them excited about how they live or how they garden. And then make a sort of very rich experience because I think we’re supposed to make a rich experience. Nature is a very rich experience by design, I think. And I think we’re given this opportunity to sort of recreate that in what is often a more geometric way.
2M: Well you know we found you because you’re located on the 2M Directory, which is a directory of designers and architects and all that great stuff on 2Modern. Do you consider your work modern?
SR: You know that’s always a really tough question. And a tough question here, because I would say that you and I probably mean the same thing by the term “modern.” But I generally skew away from terminology that people tend to associate with styles. Because we could use the same words and mean very, very different things, unfortunately. Which is why I always get back to that idea of I want to find out what gets your pulse going and then we’ll design something that does that and we’ll find that the issue of whether or not it’s modern or something else kind of goes away…because it’s about doing something that you really want to do. Because what people will say they want versus what they really want are often very different things. I’ve been really been very surprised, in my practice anyway, with how that works. So on one level, yes, I work definitely aspires to be what people know what modern means—I definitely do aspire to that kind of modernism. But I also don’t want to straight jacket myself to that definition because I do want to serve people and go where I want to go and sort of go on that joint exploration. I also think if you about modern being more about being relevant in current times, then that interests me a lot. Then I would probably say absolutely I would be modern in that sense. You know Atlanta’s a pretty traditional town, so there’s a growing niche of things, using our definition of modern…there’s a growing niche…but it’s definitely still a niche.
2M: Well you know this might be a bit of a cliché or an almost impossible to answer question…but do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on, whether it’s a side project like one of the gardens or galleries or someone’s home?
SR: Well typically that’s a hard question to answer and the classic answer is of course to say that the next project is my favorite project or the one I’m working on. But I’ve got to say, having completed the canopy walk at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens—there’s favoritism to that one because it was just so unique to do something like that. I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to do that again but I’d certainly love to. It was just the first time out doing anything that was that terribly different. I’m not sure there’s anything quite like it, at least in the United States, in that kind of environment. So it was a really invigorating, conceptual, artistic, structure-as-art, wanted to be somewhat iconic and public, so everyone can go there. So there are some things that make that a real favorite. But I really enjoy doing people’s master bedrooms, too. I find a lot of pleasure in doing that when you get that right dialog going with the client. So all projects have a sense of favoritism but the canopy walk simply because it’s so unique.
2M: Can you give us any hints as to what the future of your firm looks like?
SR: Well I do try to connect with the botanical garden world because there are not many people who have as much botanical garden experience as I now have. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens have constituted six or 8 different projects that I’ve now [done]; not just the canopy walk. And then in some former experience, prior to starting Axios, I had done some work and I’ve also done a master plan as Axios with a garden in Arkansas. So I go to the garden convention and would very much like to continue developing that as a market. Definitely would like to continue to develop the single family market. I think it would be great to expand more geographically. I’ve got no geographic boundaries if my clients don’t. I have no necessary desire to stay in Atlanta; I think it would be great to work in different environments, different climates and different natural geographies and places. I’ve been doing a lot of renovation projects because that’s been what’s out there to be done lately and have honed those skills. But I’m definitely looking to expand that into doing new from the ground up projects. So I am aspiring to do that. Again wherever they’re located I think would be just great.
2M: Well I wish you luck on all of those and thank you so much for talking with us.
SR: Well it’s been very good. I appreciate you contacting me and would be happy to talk with you again in the future.
2M: To learn more about Steve and his firm Axios Architecture, you can visit axiosarchitecture.com. Visit 2Modern.com for more podcasts and awesome stuff.