Four architects not making architecture, but forging new lanes in design

In the Know

A degree in architecture is good for more than planning buildings and cities. The small scale lends itself to implementing the practice in new forms and constraints. Clothes, furniture, sculptures; each opens a new world for creative applications of structure and volume. This holds true for the following designers who each studied or practiced architecture but have instead turned to the realm of design. The commonalities, however, end there. Each of these designers have gone on to carve out a distinct style and practice of their own in varying typologies. Put together, they expand the possibilities of what architecture can create beyond buildings.

Dima Srouji (Cian Oba-Smith)

Dima Srouji

Working with the mediums of glass, text, archive maps, plaster casts, and film, London-based Dim Srouji investigates cultural heritage and public pace within the larger context of the Middle East, particularly Palestine. Architect, visual artist, and currently the lead of the MA City Design studio a the Royal College of Art in London, Srouji explores the ground as a deep space of cultural weight, looking for ruptures where imaginary liberation is possible. Her work is developed closely with archaeologists and anthropologists and is part of the permanent collections at the Corning Museum of Glass and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Luis Ignacio Figallo (Kian Greiner)

BAS Atelier

BAS Atelier is a creative practice founded in 2021 by architect duo Luis Ignacio Figallo and Patrisa Pruthi. Now led predominantly by Figallo, the Miami-based studio handpaints and carves sculptural wall pieces that are inspired by the ancient decorative technique of low—or bas—relief sculpture. Figallo’s background as a practicing architect in New York City as well his passion for music inform his sculptures’ architectural contours, shapes, and forms. The compositions of each relief, at times geometric and other times organic, capture the room’s natural daylight at different times of the day. Each is a quiet yet impactful addition to the space.

Leonardo Garza (Sean Davidson)


After working on the first Tadao Ando project in Latin America, Mexican architect and designer Leonardo Garza, inspired by Ando’s sensitive and minimalist aesthetic, began his own design practice, GARZA. Based in Mexico City, the studio explores restraint within furniture and lighting design. The clean curvature of its Ambient modular system, a table and seating set made from stainless steel and inspired by ambient music, exemplifies GARZA’s ability to locate warmth and art within the industrial. His work—which has been exhibited in Pink Essay, Mexico Design Fair, and more—underscores simplicity, both in a visual sense and in the manufacturing process.

Nikolas Bentel (Courtesy Nik Bentel Studio)

Nik Bentel Studio

A graduate of the Brown–RISD Dual Degree program and Columbia University’s Master of Architecture program, Nikolas Bentel is an artist and designer who creates products and performances that engage viewers to reimagine everyday objects. Through his eponymous New York–based studio, Bentel releases limited-edition clothing, furniture, accessories, and homewares that focus on narrative as much as function. Humor and surrealism unite the work, which varies from furniture molded after Bentel’s naked body to a macaroni box–shaped bag to a puzzle of the iconic Microsoft XP background. The studio’s episodic product releases emphasize the object’s performative nature and are constantly venturing into new themes.