Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Collin Burry, design director and principal at Gensler.

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Airbnb. Courtesy of Gensler.com

Airbnb. Courtesy of Gensler.com

In 2013 he was included in the Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame. Collin Burry, design director and principal at Gensler, is a celebrity in the industry. He has earned more than 60 design awards and publications in international design and business media. His creative brain, contemporary and yet grounded gaze has transformed the interiors of International companies like Apple, Samsung and Dolby. Humble and aware of his talent in each single project he is committed to create a sense of community where people are equally respected and feel at ease. He firmly believes that design is a responsibility and it has a clear function: it has to serve the planet and has to improve people’s lives. 

We chat with him about the industry, the city and the future. 

D: How did the local design and architecture industries have changed in the last 5-10 years?

CB: San Francisco probably every ten years is involved in a complete renaissance driven by innovation and new business models. Those new business models tend to migrate to the rest of the country and even worldwide. In the last five years we have seen this creative renaissance where people and clients became more savvy and more directly involved in any projects. They have learned to communicate and share their own idea and expectation of what they wanted. They became definitively more aware of themselves. 

D: How is technology affecting the design and architecture industry, the development of new products and new buildings?

CB: Our clients are younger and more comfortable with technology, they expect us to use it, most of all when we have to show them their projects. So we need to learn how to deal and manage new software to meet their expectations. What I like about this new wave of clients is that they don’t want just a beautiful place where to work or live, they want something that has a deeper meaning. They want something that reflects their personalities. When we worked on Airbnb’s location we had to explore the identity of the organization: who they were, what kind of people were working there, what kind of people were using their platforms. Information that were important to establish the personality of the company, their unique role in the community of travelers.

888 Brannan.

888 Brannan.

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture projects in the Bay Area?

CB: I like the De Young Museum, I think it reflects the spirit of the Bay Area, SFMOMA, 88 Octavia because it is a building that really interacts with the surrounding. What I like the most is the Bay Area culture. The people who live in the Bay Area are people who choose to live here, they are really committed to the city and they are using all the amenities available to build their lives here. 

D: And those you don’t like at all?

CB: I am not a big fan of Linea Condos. I think that San Francisco is an humble city and it has an egoless soul. I believe that each building should embody this spirit.

D: In your opinion, who are the new Bay Area’s talents in the design and architecture industries?

CB: I think Karyn Gabriel, design director at Gensler, what she did with Wired magazine location in San Francisco was amazing. Denise Cherry, 32, principal of Assembly design studio, Sondra Law, associate, hospitality design director at Gensler. 

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area’s future?

CB: The Bay Area’s future is bright. My hope is just that we are going to work in a more normal speed. I believe that in five years maybe we are going to have another explosion of creativity which will be different from the one we are having now. I don’t know in what terms yet, but in my opinion it will be more community-oriented where we will work all together to build and realize projects that are going to be great for the city, but also for individuals and their social interactions. 

D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on it?

CB: I try to treat everybody with respect. I like to create an environment where all ideas are welcome, where collaboration, openness and thoughtfulness are the foundations.


Collin Burry. 

Collin Burry.