Shoptalk - Michelle Linden

Tell us about your introduction to architecture and why it originally interested you?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to become an architect. I was fortunate that my mom was eager to support me and was even able to find an architecture camp for girls when I was in seventh grade!

What aspects of your background or upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?

Both of my parents were in social work, so I was always keenly aware of how the built environment can affect and impact us all differently.

When you founded your own firm, what were your goals? Was there something different that you wanted to do?

Initially, I simply wanted to be able to own the entire process, start to finish. As a sole proprietor, you’re really able to do that. I think it was a great learning tool for me and allowed me to grow in all aspects of the business. However, I learned that I missed the team environment – working with other designers to find the best solution appeals to my social nature, but I also strongly believe it enables us to find even better solutions. Design is an iterative process, and sometimes the best iterations come from someone besides you.

Outside of architecture, what are you currently interested in and how is it influencing your design thinking?

I have always loved to travel – learning about other cultures, being exposed to different artwork, food, and ways of thinking. Travel reminds us of what we have in common as humans, while also allowing us to celebrate our differences. Coming back home - we’re hopefully able to reevaluate our surroundings through a different lens. The beauty of other places provides new aesthetic inspiration, experiencing how other people use and perceive space can offer continual growth for our own design thinking. I love bringing home something new I’ve learned and applying it to projects.

Favorite architectural detail of your childhood home?

Although I technically grew up in a suburb of Boston, it was in a highly dense neighborhood part of the greater megalopolis from Boston to DC. I always appreciated the urban environment – proximity to public transit, great museums, schools, sports teams, but was also lucky to have an abundance of great outdoor beauty to escape to. I grew up in a place that was highly walkable, which included walking to the beach. Ultimately, the urban environment I grew up in wasn’t much different than the one I live in today, here in Seattle.

Favorite travel destination? Why?

Paris is the place I love to go back to again and again – constantly wandering new parts of the City, saying hi to old friends, and eating great food. But, Morocco has probably been my favorite all-time destination. From the incredibly busy souks to the peaceful mountains and desert (and the amazingly kind people!), there is really something for everyone. Somehow every day was an overload of the senses, and yet I always felt relaxed and at peace.

What’s next on the boards?

As an office, we are so fortunate to work on a wide variety of projects! Right now, I’m very excited about a floating home that just started construction, a wine shop/ bar in Tacoma, and a new West Seattle apartment building. Working at different scales allows us to explore how we understand space from a variety of viewpoints. And of course – it’s always fun to bring new materials and details we’ve found for a restaurant into a home, or vice versa.

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