We talked to Eric Aust, an architect in Newport Beach, California who trained at the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. With over 19 years of experience, Eric offers residential and commercial clients services ranging from models and hand-drawn sketches to complete design and construction documents, to construction management. He’s a wildly talented architect whose designs speak for themselves. Read on to find out what Eric had to say about getting his start, designing for himself, and his one rule when it comes to design.
What made you want to become an architect?
I wanted to be an architect from very early on, probably 5th or 6th grade. I don’t think I even knew anybody that was an architect at the time. I ended up taking a few drafting classes in high school, which solidified my choice that I wanted to be an architect.
What was your first project? Would you do anything differently today?
I worked for a small firm in Phoenix, Arizona after college. We worked on mostly commercial projects — Disney stores, Blockbuster Video — but it was a great training ground to learn all aspects of the process since I was able to be a part of the design, construction documents, and construction management. I don’t recall a specific project as being my first to work on but when I went out on my own in 2001, my first solo project was a 7,500 square foot single-family residence in Los Altos, California. It was spec project for a friend that was the start of other projects for the same client.
What are some common mistakes you notice when you walk into a home?
Trying to do too much. It seems like most of my remodel projects consist of removing pieces of the houses that have been overly designed or added. I prefer simple spaces that let the inhabitants provide the focus. Simplicity in a project is much harder to accomplish than it would seem.
What’s your dream project?
I just completed my own house, although it was a remodel. I would love to design my own house from the ground up, but I’ll have to wait a few more years for the opportunity. Being your own client is a difficult task, but it helps in being compassionate towards your clients when you’ve put yourself through the same process.
Do you keep up with the latest trends? How?
Sort of. It seems like clients are always looking for the latest and greatest design ideas and trends although that can lead to similar looking houses. I prefer a client that will tell me what there needs are within a house and how it needs to function, and letting the architecture come from that. I use online sources and magazines, but I also prefer experiencing new and different spaces to open my mind to different design ideas.
Do you have any rules?
The only rule: no rules! I don’t think I follow any strict guidelines within architecture, but I strive to provide the clients with an individualized design is specific to their needs.
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