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The Unique Road to Becoming an Architect with Aaron Prinz of Design:ED

This week, prepare to be entertained as I introduce the funny and awe-inspiring Aaron Prinz! Listen to the full episode here or watch it here.

If you don't already know who he is, Aaron Prinz is the creator and host of the podcast Design:ED. In this laughter-packed interview, we chat about the different paths people took before discovering architecture, the power of marketing, how architecture is multi-faceted, and how he started his amazing podcast.

Everyone's story about how they got into architecture is different, but Aaron's has got to be one of the most interesting and unique ones I've heard.

Like most of us, Aaron Prinz didn't really know what to do after high school, so he decided to study at the University of Oregon and major in German. Not wholly interested in his major, he dropped out after a year and pursued his passion since he was ten: becoming a stand-up comedian.

Born and raised in Red Bluff, a small town in Northern California, Aaron had to travel around 2 hours every other day to Sacramento just to perform at an open mic. His passion drove him to continue despite the struggles that came along with it. He eventually moved to San Francisco and worked a couple jobs to support his dream of being a comedian. He did comedy for a few more years with friends hosting shows.

Even though comedy was Aaron's passion, he eventually decided to stop being a comedian and work for his dad in Red Bluff doing spec houses. Working in the building industry sparked his interest in architecture, and he continued taking classes in community college.

Aaron has worked on many project typologies, including mental health facilities, hospitals, high-rise buildings, and residential buildings. He's currently working as a project designer for an Austin, Texas, firm that handles hospitality designs. He shares that he enjoys working with private clients the most, especially seeing their reactions when they first see how their house turns out.

When he's not busy designing or interviewing world-famous architects, he loves spending his time hanging out with his 2-year-old son, skateboarding, going out for a swim, and exploring Austin.

In our interview, Aaron and I talk about how his path as a comedian surprisingly led him to fall into a career in architecture. He talks about how sometimes the feeling of failure comes up because he gave up comedy but then realized that everything has led to what he is doing now. All the skills he garnered are because of years of being a comedian.

Even though he thought his years as a stand-up comedian didn't contribute to his current career as an architect and a podcast host, he now realizes that those years were stepping stones to who he is now.

Those years taught him valuable skills that trained him to be comfortable and confident in having conversations, booking guests, and putting himself on the radar.

Talking to him about how much he loves his current job and how thankful he is for his past job made me realize something everyone should recognize- it's never too late to start your career. People have told me they hate their job and have always wanted to be an architect. I always tell them to go for it! Ten years will pass no matter what you do, so you might as well do something you love.

Aaron and I then talk about how architecture opens up so many doors for people, whether or not they pursue a more conventional architecture career or go into designing furniture or doing podcasts. Aaron says that if you want to become an architect, you'll have to spend a lot of time in school, and it's a common misconception that you can't be a good architect if you aren't laser-focused. He says that as architects, we'll be making things for people who didn't go through the architecture school experience we did.

Studying is important, but experiencing the world will give you a deeper insight into what people are interested in and shape you into a great designer.

Aaron started his podcast, Design:ED, back in 2018 in the summer after his first year of grad school. In his podcast, he has the opportunity to interview some of the biggest names in architecture. I'm talking Bjark Engles, Art Gensler, and Ted Flato just to name a few. Some of these are people we studied and read stories about, so for him to get the chance to sit face-to-face with them and have a conversation about their work is incredible.

He talks about his favorite interview with Tom Kundig and how he was so relatable. Another interview that stuck out for him was his podcast about the devastating Paradise fire. He talks about how he tried to help by making the podcast and hopes it brought some attention to the matter.

If you're interested in learning more about Aaron and his podcast, you can check out the podcast episodes on Architecture Record, Apple Podcasts, and Instagram @designed.podcast.

Thank you to Aaron for such a fun and entertaining talk this week and for sharing your inspiring story and wisdom on career paths. A huge thanks to you, too, for joining us here!

If you enjoyed this episode, it inspired you, or you've found value in it, please let me know! You can now support the show by subscribing on YouTube here and writing a review here. See you soon!



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