Paul Tebben and Vladimir Radutny are two Chicago-based architects who are gaining a reputation for their innovative approach to design and architecture. The pair launched their architecture and design studio, IDE, in 2008 and since then have clawed their way through the economic crisis, gaining critical acclaim for their furniture design and residential and commercial projects.
Hello Vladimir, hello Paul, can you tell us how you started out?
In 2008, we took the leap into launching our start-up by seizing an opportunity presented to us by a real estate investor. He was interested in developing properties in Chicago so we negotiated with him a situation whereby we would manage his property acquisitions, design and oversee the construction of each project. As the economy quickly took a turn for the worse in 2008, we then transitioned into a more typical architecture business model.
What is a typical day like for you?
It really depends on the day. We try to maintain a steady overlap in our project timeline, staggering projects such that the early stages of design for some projects overlap with the construction of others. This allows us to remain rejuvenated by constantly being engaged with the various stages of creative and business processes simultaneously.
Do you enjoy your work? Why?
Absolutely, yes. That’s not to say that our daily work is not accompanied by ever-changing challenges. We try to make the best of each situation, however, and learn from the lessons they offer. We enjoy the work so much because we’re finally able to pursue interests that are of our own making. No matter the size, scope or type of project, we always seek out opportunities to pursue challenges that excite us, personally. This, for example, has led to the realization of many of our furniture pieces.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
IDE stands for Innovation in Design and Exploration in the field of Architecture. We pride ourselves on listening; to our clients, to our gut instincts, to the city and to the context in which we are designing and building. We relentlessly question that which is commonplace in both design methodology and physical execution. In stride, we draw inspiration from the design community. With local, national and international work being so readily accessible to us these days, we are inspired every day by what we see from seasoned and young designers alike. We also take acute interest in other disciplines, particularly the physical trades.
“Treat every project like it’s your last”
How do you keep focused on doing something unique, creative & true to yourself?
Each person in our studio is unique so the answer will likely differ depending on who you ask. We try to maintain an open-format design environment. As such, each member of the team is encouraged to fuel each project with their experiences and methods. For some, doing something interesting means seeking out catalysts for inspiration in precarious places. Even in the design challenges or daily problem-solving that some would categorize as mundane, we dig for something, anything to instigate excitement. For others, it means steering away from stylistic or formulaic responses, maintaining a sense of honesty to each project and fighting to uncover design responses that are uniquely appropriate to each challenge.
“Jump first, look down second”
What sort of skills do you need to do your work?
Aside from those which are obvious, the most important skills we could point to are curiosity, unyielding determination, patience and the persistence to will creative projects into existence.
Do you have one tip of advice for other aspirant creatives & entrepreneurs?
Jump first, look down second. Nothing exciting and rewarding comes without risk and hard work. Treat every project like it’s your last because you never know when the next job will arrive and what form it might take.