Kurt Chiusolo is a designer in our Portland office with a Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Hawaii and a passion for infusing peace and tranquility into healthcare spaces. Raised on the beach in New Jersey and educated in the Aloha State, Kurt radiates a vibe many of us strive for: cool, calm, and collected. We recently visited Kurt’s apartment to covet his plant collection and talk about Jedi training.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture? I was fascinated by fabrication and the science of how things got made when I was younger. But I grew up in New Jersey not far from the beach, so nature and beauty were always just as important to me. I remember feeling happy at the beach. I liked the idea of designing something that made other people feel that way.
How does living in the Pacific Northwest/Portland inspire you? Portland is known for being flexible and experimental. As a creative, I love that I get to work and design in a city where the clients and users are so open.
Coffee or tea? Both, but if I get a choice it’s green tea.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? Yoda would be fun. The design would have to accommodate the fact that he flies, and he needs a meeting space to train Jedi. The challenge is making his lair as peaceful as him. I can already picture an epic Zen garden.
Favorite tool of the trade? A light meter. Whenever I experience a good quality of light, I wonder what the level of light is so I can replicate it. I have an app on my phone to check. The other day I was on a hike and the light that was diffusing through the trees was so beautiful, I had to record it.
Are you reading a book you just can’t put down? I love Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It’s futuristic, but of earth. I am drawn to books that are set in nature with a primitive culture that is also high tech. The juxtaposition is interesting.
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? Hiking and being out in nature. Environments I can’t control are my favorite, they remind me of the ocean. If I’m indoors, I am knitting or taking care of my plants. I live in the heart of the city, so I filled my apartment with nature to make it more peaceful. I use our laser cutter at work to create wood support structures for some of my favorite plants.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Someone once pointed out to me, “We all live in our own realities.” Our lifestyles and what drives us are so different, they change based on our experiences. I’ve learned that everyone has a different path. It has helped me feel more fulfilled in my own life.