Michael Szivos • SOFTlab

After finishing his Masters of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University in 2004, Michael Szivos founded the NYC based design studio SOFTlab. Michael is also an assistant adjunct professor at Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University and a assistant adjunct professor at the School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute.

SOFTlab is a design studio based in New York City. The studio has designed and produced projects across almost every medium, from digitally fabricated large-scale sculpture to interactive design to immersive digital video installations. As the studio adjusts to a wide range of projects, we are focusing less on medium and more on ideas.

As a studio, SOFTlab embraces projects that are strange, difficult, blurry and straddle multiple mediums. The constraints of each project are treated as opportunities and tested through a collaborative studio environment with the hopes of solving typical problems in new ways, with new tools. Through the studio’s unique blend of backgrounds as designers, artists, architects and educators, we are able to approach every project from a fresh perspective to create rich spatial, graphic, interactive and visual experiences. By mixing research, creativity and technology with a strong desire to make work fun, SOFTlab attempts to create new and unique experiences.

In 2012 SOFTlab was awarded the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects & Designers, and previously in 2010 the studio was selected for the New Practices New York award by the AIA Chapter of New York along with 7 other young studios. The studio has produced a wide range of design projects and collaborated with various artists, designers, publications and institutions including MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Hall of Science, Eyebeam, New Museum, Vice Media, Intel, The New York Times, Surface Magazine, EPFL, Pratt Institute , and Columbia University. The studio has exhibited work in galleries throughout New York City. The studio continues to work on many projects in New York while taking on new projects and clients in Europe and Asia.


Discussion / Q&A with Eric Socolofsky, Matt Cottam, and Michael Szivos. Facilitated by Alexis Lloyd.

Session: Proceed with Excitement!

We often find ourselves solving two different problems when we engage a project. The design of the project itself and the system needed to fabricate, activate, or visualize the project. Most of our work is also physical and very site specific. It is easy to be seduced by the precision of the computer, but the real world has much more interesting tendencies like gravity, wind, pressure, excited children, etc. As we build our installations we rely less on precision and more on improvisation and intuition to address the reality of making them. These two problems not only require different skills but also a different mindset altogether. This talk will address how we reconcile this split personality and how we address the idiosyncrasies of the real world.