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Meet the Team: Steve Carbin

What do you do?
I am a member of the architectural team. My main focus is on interior spaces.

What do you love about your job?
I love creating spaces, and with my role comes many different functions; space planning, conceptual design, finish selections, custom lighting, and taking a project from space planning through construction.

What led you to the design field?
I graduated college with a double major in Spanish Literature and PR and taught middle school Spanish before deciding to go back to school for architecture. After grad school I started to focus on the interiors, as ninety percent of your time is spent indoors. I was lucky to spend two years working with Cesar Pelli’s office on the interior architecture for the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. That was a formative career experience for me. It aligned my design strengths and interests within the profession. This early exposure to an incredibly considered type of design provided lessons from which I try to apply to all projects, large or small.

Most exciting part of your job?
The most enriching part of the job is working with clients. I like the relationship and collaboration part of my job. I get to know and understand the clients’ “why,” listen to their ideas, then work with them to create a project that meets and hopefully exceeds their expectations.

Crescendo Sketch
Preliminary design for Crescendo Coffee Bar.

Are you a morning or evening person?
Late afternoon person.

Favorite cocktail:
Gin and Tonic in the summer, and either a cold Heineken or a good box of wine the rest of the year.

How has corporate architecture and interior design changed since you started?
In corporate design, it seems as though everyone is attempting to blur the line between public and private space. Given how much of our time is spent at work, it makes sense. Organizations have to realize how important a physical work environment is as a tool in recruiting and retaining top talent. A compelling workspace is becoming part of the total benefits package.

What was your favorite project to work on?
I have been able to contribute to a wide variety of projects in scale and aesthetics. The past year I have worked with the NSI West Bend Insurance offices, a country club project, helped shape the interiors of a new luxury senior living project, the creative interior design of an early childhood center, and finally, a cool espresso bar. If I had to choose, it would be a recently completed project where I collaborated with our design director, electrical engineers, and a theatrical lighting designer to create a three-story programmable lighting fixture called, “School of Fish” for NSI.

NSI Lights
‘School of Fish’ – NSI
School of Fish Sketch
An early sketch of the ‘School of Fish’ lighting.

Which famous person would you like to interview?
Stephen Sondheim and Louis Kahn. They both have a strong, clear vision in their work which is something that I am constantly striving towards.

What is something you look forward to every day at work?
Iconica has a healthy workplace culture, which is on display every day here in how people treat each other. Every day is different, but that always stays the same.

Favorite song to sing in the car?
Anything classic rock, Everything but the Girl, or Cowboy Junkies.

What would you say to anyone considering working at Iconica?
Compared to a traditional architectural firm, one has the opportunity to learn about a project from many different angles, from working with estimating project budgets to working with the construction team throughout the design and building process. We all learn from each other’s areas of expertise, which in turn enhances our work.

How does integration work at Iconica?
Integration is a constant conversation between all disciplines, in service of creating a successful project for our clients. We challenge and support each other along the way, creating a safe space to explore and grow as a team. Everyone here has something that they are very good at, and it is exciting to see.

Trip or vacation you would like to take?
I would like to walk the Camino Trail, it’s an old pilgrimage route, and it goes from France to Spain and Portugal. I also enjoy visiting cities such as New York or Madrid.

How do you stay on top of architecture trends?
Interior and architecture magazines, websites, blogs, are all good inspiration. I like to travel, but one of my favorite art forms is theater. It can be an inspiration, especially how the best set and lighting designers frame spaces and can allude to places, creating big and small, quiet and loud all within the stage. I always think about those moments when I design a project and try to incorporate them whenever possible. Visceral moments are strong and resonate at the end versus jumping on the latest trend.

Do you have a dream project?
Yes, an addition to my house, a modern version of the summer kitchen. The concept would connect with a glass breezeway/ part dining room and blend the old and new buildings. I sketch it all the time at my desk. One of these days I will figure it out and make it happen.

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