Architecture, Product Design

May 20, 2023
Hyper-Toroidal Deep Surface

Apps-as-ArchitectureIn spring of 2009, I graduated from architecture school. At the time, the post-recession economy was rough and not much was happening for architects. With an interest in entrepreneurship and technology, I took a risk and decided to try working at a tech startup. Much to my surprise, I fell in love with the industry and 5 years later, I’m now a Product Designer at Percolate in NYC.

Since my career pivot, I’ve noticed many interesting parallels between architecture and product design. Although the mediums are different, it’s amazing to see how many of the design principles and processes are the same. To some degree, even the tools can be applied to both design industries.

Hamburger-Nav_2Over the years, I’ve enjoyed applying lessons learned in architecture school to product design. I’ve also loved sharing the lessons with friends and watching them apply those ideas to their design practices.

Throughout the next few weeks, I will be sharing lessons learned in architecture school and how I apply them to product design at Percolate.

Hope you find this mini-series interesting and useful. Let’s get started.


One of the greatest lessons I learned in architecture school is the importance of circulation systems in the design of buildings.

Think about some of your favorite buildings. In order to move between floors, you need stairs, elevators and ramps. To move between rooms on floors, you need hallways and corridors. The methods of circulation are key functional elements in all buildings.

SketchesWhen I moved from architecture to product design, I immediately realized the concept of circulation was very much applicable to the design of software applications. To see what I mean, look at the following diagram I created to show how how moving between floors in a building is similar to moving between screens in a mobile app. The purpose of stairs in the building is the same as it is for the tabs in the app. In both cases, it’s the primary method of helping people move between core spaces.

Circulation greatly affects our perception of both products and architecture. Think about renting an apartment on the 7th floor of a building. If you entered your building and had to climb 7 flights of stairs to reach your apartment, your legs would be in great shape, but you might feel tired and have a less pleasant experience. If you entered the same apartment building and got to take an elevator to reach your apartment, your perception of the building might be more favorable.

Parametric Architecture: What Product Designers can learn
Parametric Architecture: What Product Designers can learn ...

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