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Next level

By NAN BIALEK

October 2013

By the time Aeron Knutson was 15 years old, heíd lived in 15 different places (his father was a business consultant whose projects took him all over the country).

"Moving around sometimes, Iíd be ahead in classes, or behind, or in between," Knutson says. "But I could always be in art class and that was an easy connection wherever I went. Iíve loved drawing and creating things since I was old enough to pick up a pencil," he says.

After graduating from New Berlin West High School, Knutson landed at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design where his career as a designer with an emphasis in interior architecture was primed for take-off. His industrial-inspired take on a coffee bar for a new student union won the schoolís design competition. He worked with fellow students, including Jeremy Shamrowicz, now better known as the founder of Flux Design, to build it.

"I was there at the right time, thatís for sure," Knutson says. "My professor, Robert Lynch, was a real advocate of using students for design talent at an early age." Not only does that approach save money for the school, he notes, "itís priceless for the students."

The student union project, and many others incorporated into a late-1990s MIAD renovation, taught Knutson to focus on developing singular, imaginative elements that become design focal points.

Today, as a designer for P&H Interiors in Coral Gables, Fla., Knutson has the chance to test that approach on interiors ranging from British Colonial style to midcentury modern to ultra-contemporary. He recently finished a contemporary condo project for a hockey player that features an 8-foot-wide cantilevered fireplace, a nod to one of his inspirations, the iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Knutson also was the lead designer in the renovation of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in North Miami, an Art Deco icon. His latest project is a high-end residential interior in Byron Bay, Australia.

Knutson says his MIAD education taught him not just how to design, but how best to build a piece as well.

"A lot of builders appreciate me because I can really talk shop. I get in there shoulder-deep with them and work out the details in fabricating it," he says.

Once a project is completed, all the attention to detail pays off. "When I walk into a space after itís finished, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. Iíve walked through this space a thousand times in my head and now here it is. It is so great to work with clients who really Ďget ití and really push me, too. I love taking it to the next level for them."





 

This story ran in the October 2013 issue of: