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Practice of Architecture | 2018/01/22

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Naeiri Petrosian: Translating Design Education to UX Research

Practice of Architecture, PofArch, Practice Architecture, Architecture Practice, Evelyn Lee, Naeiri Petrosian, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, user experience design, UX Research, Heatherwick Studio, Parsons School of Design, Google HQ, Hybrid Design Studies

There is an inherent connection between the skills we are taught in architecture school and the methods UX Researchers use in implementing digital platforms. Naeiri Petrosian helps us draw a connection between the two.

Naeiri’s Bio:
I am a certified people watcher. Having been born and raised in multiple different cultures and locations gave me the opportunity to share many different experiences with different people. At some point, I became fascinated with people and observing how they behave. I never thought that my spirit could stay strong if I were to become a psychologist or a therapist, so I chose the next best thing and became a designer.

The Quick Details:
Name: Naeiri Petrosian
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Designer/ Strategist
Title: User Experience Researcher
Degree(s): BA in Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Your personal hero(s): All mothers who don’t give up on their kids

Five Questions:
What first made you interested in architecture?
That is a question I don’t have a clear answer for. Perhaps I was more drawn to design than Architecture to begin with. Growing up, being a designer wasn’t really a job I knew existed. I didn’t grow up in a culture or period of time that creativity could have very well been a means to make a living. Architecture, being looked at more as a technical field, was the closest thing I found to having an “actual” job. So to answer this question, I pursued architecture as the necessity to have a major in college, where in reality all I wanted was to think about people and life and somehow get paid for it.

What do you do now?
I am a User Experience Designer with focus on UX Research. Pretty much I think about how people think and help designers empathize with the user when designing products or services. I also work with stakeholders or product managers to align what they think will work from the business side, with what users are willing to buy or sign up for.

Do you apply your architecture background to your current job?
I believe that architecture education teaches you to be a design strategist more than any other discipline. I think even in the simplest form, to be an architect you have to think systematically, and that’s pretty much what I do as a researcher. At my current role, I work in conjunction with different departments to understand if the designed product, both digital and physical, meets and matches the needs and wants of the users.

What’s in store for the future of the architecture education, the profession, and/or the building industry?
Having experienced multiple platforms of design disciplines, it’s clear that the distinction between different paths of design will either merge or come under a bigger cohesive umbrella of solution finding and strategy. That also impacts architecture, in all aspects.

We recently saw that Heatherwick Studio (mostly known for their product design) will be designing the Google HQ with BIG. On the education side, Parsons School of Design is introduction a new Hybrid Design Studies under the new Dean Li Edelkoort to “loosen things up.” At an age when everyone, at least aspirationally, is a risk-taker, an innovator, a creative, and a maker, what people will look for in any professional design field is innovation rather than just design as a practice. The future of architecture will have to adapt to the same ideology by accepting and tracking co-pilots from other fields. Up to now we’ve seen architects that have gone to become politicians, planners, curators, editors, and storytellers, and I believe it’s time to let other disciplines to be a part of the “master builder” mentality of the building industry.

Any additional thoughts/information?
Focusing on the “now” of the state of design, architecture, just like many other disciplines, will evolve as we learn how to really manage data. Once we actually get to measure emotional and behavioral data then the practice of spatial design as we know it will be influenced greatly.