Firm name: SomePeople
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Year founded: 2018
Firm leadership: Kiki Goti
Education: Diploma of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Greece; M.S., University of Stuttgart, Institute of Computation Design and Construction
Experience: Visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, adjunct faculty New York Institute of Technology
Firm size: Two
We are some curious, creative people who are passionate about architecture and design. We cannot stop wondering how technology changes the spaces we live in. We speculate about the future of design and construction by creating novel tectonic systems that are built by or with computers, machines, and robots. We are excited about exploring new ways of using these tools to enhance human experience, stimulate creativity, and democratize technology in design.
Our first commission was Happy Stripe, a winning proposal for a public art competition for downtown Frederick, Md. The challenge for this project was to design a structure that activates the site—an abandoned alley—into a dynamic place of movement. We proposed a playful linear structure that is augmented through augmented reality, which acts as a “virtual guide” for the visitors of the festival, linking the city in new ways.
The installation is a vibrant stripe made out of a steel frame and nylon ropes that intrigues nearby pedestrians and encourages them to pass through it. The app is a tool that engages citizens with their urban environment, intrigues their curiosity and invites them to explore the urban fabric.
Sky Gazing Tower is a public installation designed for the 2019 Los Angeles Design Festival that addresses the challenges of contemporary global lifestyles, such as social anxiety and agoraphobia, by providing personal space for the public to decompress. The design of this structure derives from 1960s proxemics diagrams that delineate the boundaries of intimate, personal, and social space as offsetting circles around the human body.
With this project, we tried to challenge the universal approach of personal space by creating a virtual reality environment that gives the visitors of the festival the opportunity to virtually modify the structure and define their personal space according to their needs and preferences.
The reason I love this project is because it showcases our interest in democratizing design and using technology to celebrate human diversity and personal expression.
Second favorite project:
Common Matter, our timber structure proposal that emerges from an in situ human-robot collaboration for the 2019 Tallinn Architecture Biennale pavilion in Estonia. Our material system questions the basic typologies of wood construction—surface versus frame tectonics—by creating a skin that acts as façade and structure. A human-robot collaborative process is employed to take advantage of the precision and speed of machining complex joinery, while human cognition and intuition is used to assemble and manipulate the trusses and bent panels.
We proposed a live showcase during the biennale to show the potential of democratizing and demystifying the use of these technologies and the importance of human participation in the construction of public spaces.
Origin of firm name:
As a reaction to the starchitects of the last decades, I definitely did not want to use my own name for the firm. The work of SomePeople does not have a signature style coming from a mastermind; rather, it is the outcome of the collaboration and synergy among several people who collectively brainstorm and speculate about the process of design and making.
Biggest design challenge or fear you’ve overcome:
Starting my own practice
Best advice you have ever received:
Take risks if you want to make changes
Favorite place to get inspired:
Athens, Greece; Mexico City; New York, N.Y.
Inflatables in fashion—specifically the balloon dresses by Fredrik Tjærandsen, the inflatable latex trousers by Harikrishnan, and the inflatable puffers by Craig Green for Moncler
When I’m not working in architecture, I:
Am thinking about it
Biggest challenge in running a successful practice:
Not getting frustrated
What should architects be discussing today?
The importance of human experience and participation in design and construction. For me the biggest question today is how we can use advanced technological tools that have been around for a while—AR/VR, robotics, User Interfaces—to intrigue imagination and express human diversity. How can we engage the public in the design process and what kind of architecture would result?
Skills to master:
Organizing a desktop efficiently
Essential evening routine:
Creating a to-do list for the next day—I can sleep much better afterward
A social media account everyone should follow:
What are you reading?
Staying with the Trouble (Duke University Press, 2016) by Donna Haraway; Signal. Image. Architecture. (Columbia University Press, 2019) by John May; Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (Verso, 2016) by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
This article has been updated since its original publication.