Tuesday, March 20, 2018

ai3 promotes 5 new Associates

Chris Carfora
Ah, "Sunshine" (as he's known around the studio, and by a few choice clients). He's one of the most honest, loyal, and indefatigable architects in the industry. He's the guy you want on your team - his innate knowledge of construction details is second to none - and he's a bulldog in the field, going to bat for his clients from day 1 of a project to opening day.

Chris loves architecture, good bourbon, soccer, and Clemson football. He's feisty and determined (thus the nickname), and a devotee of Diet Coke and daily walkabouts around the office.  Since joining our studio in 2010, he's earned a reputation for his steadfast commitment to ai3. We love his squinty smile and how his whole head blushes when we pay him a compliment. We're so lucky to have you on our team, Sunshine. 

Susan Weiler
Susan is our triple threat: architect, designer, and fine artist. Her beautiful hand renderings are at once delicate and highly technical, serving as masterful storytelling devices for our projects. She is also innately curious, and loves unriddling complex details. The one thing Susan lacks is an artistic temperament. Known for her poise, she brings a cool, calming presence to any team. 

Susan gained early exposure to the industry through her architect dad, and later married John, also an architect. Together they love to travel (a trip to Japan two years ago was particularly formative) and encourage their son, Aiden, to pursue his love of all things related to science, space, and computers. We love Susan for her kindness, generosity, loyalty, and consummate professionalism. She's also a bourbon enthusiast, and can throw 'em back with the best of them. Susan, we're so glad you chose to join ai3 in 2016. 

Elisa Gangone
Ask nicely, and Elisa will teach you the correct way to pronounce "salsiccia" - and the best place in Naples to eat it (she's Italian, after all). A fount of knowledge for all-things-edible, Elisa knows everything from the best ramen joint on Buford Highway to the perfect trattoria on the Amalfi Coast.

Food might be in her blood, but Elisa's also passionate about design, a stickler for details, and a natural aesthete. She has a keen eye for color and materiality, and every project she touches - including her own home, which she and husband Benjamin designed from the ground up - bears her signature elegance. We love Elisa for her confidence, impeccable taste, and sardonic wit. Since joining ai3 in 2011, Elisa's talent and work ethic have proven invaluable to our studio. 

Jillian Rooker
Jillian makes it look so easy. A fast thinker, talker, and designer, she exudes a laid-back charm that belies a serious set of design chops. We love Jillian for her effervescent spirit, enthusiasm for new projects, talent for creating beautiful palettes, and the skilled, patient mentoring she offers younger staff. 

Jillian is also our beloved yogi, leading us through our weekly Tadasanas, and our most fervent taco advocate, always game for a taqueria run. Outside of ai3, she's a businesswoman, teaching private yoga classes and helping her chef-husband, Danny, launch their all-local, all-organic catering company, Small Batch. She has two other men in her life - her cherished pups, Chester and Timmy - who have a devoted following on her Instagram account.


Catrina Rosa O'Keefe
If ai3 had a star student, it would be Catrina. Equal parts artist and thinker, she's a serious, driven designer with an impressive portfolio of experience. Catrina is organized, thorough, and resolutely curious, always striving to learn more about the technical aspects of her profession. She assumes complete ownership of a project, feeling personally responsible for its success.

She's also our resident sweetheart. To know Catrina is to love her- and her infectious laugh. Outside of work, she's a talented tennis player and budding jewelry designer, who loves scouring Scott's Antique Market for supplies. Catrina inherited her eye for design from her artistic family, and together with her architect-husband, Rob, she designed her parents' house in Mexico. Catrina, we're lucky to count you as one of our new Associates.

We're lucky to count Sunshine, Susan, Elisa, Jillian & Catrina as our new Associates. Cheers to your new titles and many accomplishments!

Susan, we’re so glad you chose to join ai3 in 2016. Congratulations on your new Associate title!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

ai3 Employee Sabbaticals - 2018

For the 3rd time in our firm's history, ai3 offered employees a 3-day sabbatical. The goal was very simple: employee growth.  Proposals were written and approved, and each person was required to "present" their journey to the rest of the studio.

Previous sabbatical presentations have been so meaningful and affected our ambitions to travel, create art, be mindful, run marathons, or just drink more bourbon.  We thought it might do the same for you, so here are (3) examples of our employee's journeys.

My sabbatical was an exploration of sketch and watercolor techniques typically used to document urban environments on location. I took photos during a recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina with the intention that I would later use them for this study.  I began with a series of ink drawing exercises using a continuous uninterrupted line from beginning until end of the skyline.  Unlike architectural drawing, this technique forced me to be more spontaneous and let my hand flow free of constraints.

The next was to incorporate watercolor into a study. I chose a photo of the tower at St. Philip's Episcopal Church with a building in the foreground and a tree line at the base. The process began with a single line sketch to quickly study the major shapes and forms. The next step was to draw a light framework in pencil based off of the ink study and then charge in with watercolor. The watercolor was layered on in three separate passes. The first was a light wash of the overall mass and shape. The second pass captured the shadows in a medium warm hue and then finally the darkest blacks and detail went on.

The third study was a combination of the two before using a photo of Broad Street. I started with a single line sketch of waterproof ink as loose as I could be with my fountain pen. It was then followed by a light wash of watercolor. Strong pigments were "charge in" in selected locations to create a vibrant atmosphere. Out of all the sketches created during my sabbatical, I found this one to be the most inspiring. The combination of loose but organized lines and blobs of color create interesting things that causes the eye to dance around the image.

Being a June baby, I've always been attracted to a beautiful pearl, especially a fresh water pearl, and it's been a dream of mine to start a jewelry line centered around the pearl. The pearl symbolized purity, generosity, integrity, and loyalty. 

For my sabbatical this year, I focused my energy on upstarting a jewelry boutique called earthen elegance boutique and "The Knotted Pearl" collection. I spent my time doing the following:
Day 1 - Branding  |  Packaging

Day 2 - Scavenging for the materials

Day 3 - Production of prototype designs & Set-up of Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/eartheneleganceshop

My sabbatical was a self-guided 3-day @MasterClassOfficial culinary course with Gordon Ramsey. The course allowed me to focus on my love of cooking, to elevate cooking techniques reflective of our chef clientele, and to learn classic recipes with a modern twist. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Truett's Chick-fil-A, It's been our pleasure

Every successful design project begins with a willing and enthusiastic team, and boy, did we have a great one with Truett's Chick-fil-A in Newnan, Georgia. Collaboration was key - we met weekly with our Chick-fil-A client, graphics team, and the kitchen designer.  Day after day, we developed new floor plans, remaining focused on how the Chick-fil-A customer would experience each aspect of the space. 

We dove head first into the design challenge of combining the beloved Hapeville Chick-fil-A Dwarf House (opened in 1946) with the current Chick-fil-A concept.  The goal was to create something fresh and timeless:  the new Truett's Chick-fil-A.  Named after the Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, Truett's celebrates his fun-loving and innovative spirit, and showcases the brand's heart and heritage.

With a little helpful inspiration from Truett Cathy's one-of-a-kind antique car collection, a trip to the Chick-fil-A headquarters, and a few too many chicken sandwiches, the design concept was underway.

A full-scale mockup was created down at Chick-fil-A's innovation center.  There we worked with the client team, physically moving elements around the space to see what felt just right. 

Each detail- down to the racing stripe painted on the wall, which paid homage to Truett's love of automobiles - was thoughtfully designed to support the new narrative of Truett's Chick-fil-A. 

Our client fully embraced the new design, but one element from the old Dwarf House was a "must keep" - the iconic red dwarf door.  Installing it in the new restaurant preserved the connection of long-time Chick-fil-A customers to the newly designed space.  

The new Truett's Chick-fil-A opened August 31st.  Devoted customers slept outside in tents (in the rain!) so they could be among the first 100 guests and win a free sandwich each week... for a YEAR!  

It was important for the space to honor and celebrate Truett Cathy:  his entrepreneurial spirit, his generosity, and his fun-loving nature.  Truett was a quotable man, and his sayings - carefully hand-painted on the white brick walls by a local artist - are sprinkled throughout the restaurant. Other hand-painted details include an evolution of the Chick-fil-A logo, from the early 1960s to present day, which patrons can glimpse while they wait in line to place their order. 

We're thrilled with how the design came to fruition, and couldn't be happier to participate in the future of Chick-fil-A.  
Thank you, Gwen Newland, for believing in ai3. 

Instagram Photo Credit:  @Mcneilsigns @dvdphoto @dantcathy

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Congratulations Kellen Minor, our newest Principal at ai3

Ahhhh, our dear Kellen - Special K.
A ridiculous perfectionist. An artist. A watercolorist. Beloved Snack-Provider. His gentleness and creative passion have found a home at ai3.  We love him for how much he loves his wife, Krystle, and his son, Rowan, and we won't forget his dog Roma, so named for his honeymoon destination in Italy.

To be a Principal, one must embrace all that we stand for at ai3.  Kellen's honesty, curiosity, accountability, and fearlessness to do his best for ai3 and his clients makes him a true asset to our studio.  Joining us in 2013, Kellen has led and inspired our studio to produce some of our best work.   

Congratulations to Kellen for earning this new title.  
We look forward to your future creations with the team here at ai3!

Fish Head Mock-Up for Dragonfly Miami; Actually 10' tall

I don't know what to say...
The beautiful family-  Krystle & Rowan
Serious about costumes- Office inside joke (dish detergent in dishwasher)

And, serious about Halloween home decor

Jason, Amy, Kerry, & Kellen at Cooking Class

Blame McLean if you're ever frustrated.  He brought you here ;)

There's Roma!

Kellen was a big part of the award-winning design for Cooks & Soldiers

Rowan and Kellen

Yep, you're stuck with us!
The Alps- Kellen's inspiration for a BrewPub design, sigh....