SO – IL. Visiting the creative chaos of the New York office

Andrea Caputo visited the studio run by Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu and Ilias Papageorgiou, where what matters most is an ability to have shared experiences.

The US has for centuries been an immigrant country and has harboured many foreign architects such as Marcel Breuer, Richard Neutra and, more recently, Rafael Viñoly and Liz Diller (Poland). In that sense, SO – IL is a typical NYC firm with all the partners being foreign: you, Florian, are from the Netherlands, Jing is Chinese and Ilias is from Greece. The current government seems to have a different stance on immigration. What does that mean for you?

Florian Idenburg: Jing and I met at SANAA in Japan, initially, and then reconnected in New York. We decided to stay and this city is a cosmopolitan international place with no single dominant nationality. In that sense, it’s good, neutral ground. To some extent, we remain a bit of a “foreign” firm – maybe in our work methods and our commitment to building architecture in the real world.

The current political situation is not easy to comprehend as it goes so much against the spirit that brought us here. We could start a business and buy a house before we had permanent residency. You don’t have to be American to own an American company. It’s easy to register by phone or even online. In the beginning, we started without much planning but now that we are getting more established we are working towards a sustainable model within the economic and regulatory reality.

We’ve noticed that many of our clients are people who share our drive to “make it in the US”. I believe they have an emotional bond with us due to the fact that we have shared a similar life experience. It’s not exactly strategic but it’s interesting to see how these things ultimately matter, the ability to have shared experiences.

Office name:
Livingston Street 320, Brooklyn, New York
450 mq
Monthly rent:
Core business:
architecture, design
Public or private:
BD strategy:
win everything
RAL colour:
shared across teams, total about 20 people
Vacation days:
unlimited, as long as the work gets done
Daily work:
9:30–18:30, with 1 hour for lunch
Workstation desk size:
shared Knoll tables
PC or Mac:
3D printer:
Office chairs:
04 by Maarten Van Severen, Vitra
Meeting-room chairs:
03 by Maarten Van Severen, Vitra

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