This issue of PROP.houses features architect and entrepreneur Eric Reinholdt from 30X40 Design Workshop. Eric practices residential architecture on a remote island off the coast of Maine, and has built his practice using passive income strategies and simple, modern design. He will answer questions about his growing online presence, as well its influence on his modern architectural practice.
Q: How did you first become interested in architecture?
A: As a child I always enjoyed model trains, building scale models and drawing. I would buy plan books from the local bookstore and redesign the floor plans and elevations; I loved the rigor of technical drawing. As college neared, this naturally led to choosing architecture as a professional course of study. But to be honest I had a misguided idea of what the job of an architect actually did at that point in my life. Architecture school changed that and opened up an entirely new world of possibilities.
Q: Talk a little bit about your design process. I have long been intrigued by the idea of working alone with my own practice. What advantages or disadvantages do you see working alone in your firm?
A: My design process always involves sketching, writing, physical model making, computer modeling, and playing with real physical materials. And, more recently I’m starting to incorporate video too. It always begins with a narrative idea and a notion about materiality and my process is deliberately collaborative. It evolves through many iterations between myself, my client and the contractor who I always prefer to be involved from the outset of a project.
The advantages of working alone are that your operation can remain lean and pivot as necessary. Maintaining a low overhead has allowed me to say no to most of the inquiries that I receive and in that way be very selective about the clients I choose to work with. Having a staff would mean accepting perhaps less than ideal projects to keep the boards filled with new work. It’s a huge responsibility to take on employees and I don’t take that lightly.
The disadvantage, aside from the loneliness, is that I’ll do far fewer projects in my career than someone with a larger staff will be able to. It also means I lack the professional sounding board that a larger studio might provide. It’s a personal choice and a trade-off I’m willing to accept because it allows me the freedom to explore interests outside of the bounds of traditional practice; things like film making, developing products, and photography. The freedom to control your own schedule is very liberating.
Q: What is one project (architecturally or otherwise) in progress right now that you are really excited about? Can you share specific details?
A: I always think the next project is the most exciting. Right now I’m just getting started on an outpost on a remote island off the coast. There’s logistics about what we can and can’t bring on the ferry, where we source concrete, even simple things become puzzles when you’re working in a remote place. I’m also working on another short film, hoping to release that in early 2018; very excited to level up from my first effort and tell a new story.
Click here to receive the full interview and see Eric’s answers to questions about his books, the Architect + Entrepreneur series, as well as his passive income practices and the influences behind them!