modus principle #2 | collective.

Mar 29, 2021

guiding principle #2:


we are better together.

Good projects represent many voices and meld people together through the design process.


The idea of a collective at modus studio is at many scales; the project team, the studio, the clients, and the community. Good design comes from everyone having a voice at each of these levels. It is our job, through the design process, to mold it all together and come out with a project where the input of an entire team is represented.

The project team:

The individuals that will be on the project from beginning to end.

Beginning with the initial sketch, all thoughts and ideas are developed in a horizontal fashion. I remember on my very first day at modus I was tasked with the renovation of the E.J. Ball building, now known as 112 W Center, in downtown Fayetteville. I was given the opportunity right then and there to share my own ideas for a project. I sketched, modeled, and rendered each of these ideas, which were ultimately used to help shape the final design. This was just the beginning of the collective process.

The studio:

All the wonderful people at modus studio.

Everyone hired at modus has a unique voice, set of skills, and design abilities. In an open office, ideas can be shared by anyone, even if they aren’t on the project team. Besides casual, informal discussions, we often gather the full staff with the intention of formally and collectively critiquing all ideas on a project. As we were working on the renovation of the 430 West Dickson project in Fayetteville, I remember taking an afternoon to have the entire office sketch over the same perspective of the building. What came out of it was a set of 30 individual viewpoints of the same project. It was both productive and fun to take each one of those and meld them together for the final design.

The clients:

The reason we get to do what we love every day!

We work with a variety of clients, from individual homeowners, to private developers, and anything in between. From the moment a project is introduced to us, we work closely with the client, listening to all of their aspirations, and working with them every day to make it a reality. It is one of the best feelings when at the end of the project the client loves what was created and sees themselves in their space. Some great examples of this are the school projects. We have received dozens of letters from K-12 students thanking us for their new school and telling us why they love it. These are some of the most rewarding parts of the collective approach.

The community:

All of the building users, from those who simply walk by, to those living and working there.

We consider everyone in the community when creating good design. I felt this was clearly shown through our recent renovation of the Ozark Natural Foods Co-Op. The project team not only worked closely with the owner representatives, but also attended board meetings to listen to ideas from across the community. Since the completion of the project, this collective design strategy has become most obvious when driving past the new Co-Op. The ‘front porch’ can be seen full of life, occupied by a variety of people enjoying the space. From college students studying, to business meetings and dinner parties, the entire community is ultimately finding value in what they have created.

Kiara Luers, AIA

associate architect | modus studio