Blurring the boundary between architecture and design, Lawrence Abrahamson (MDM 2010) takes a multidisciplinary approach to his role as an environment designer at IDEO.

Fascinated by the idea of how people perceive and interact with space, Lawrence pursued architecture in his early career. But after about a decade of designing for major architecture firms, Lawrence wanted to focus on more human-centered work. He was interested in teaching, and ready to approach design in a new way. He spent three years in Singapore, during which he conducted research with Nanyang Technological University on how space is perceived and experienced in Asia. When he moved back to the US, Lawrence realized that ID’s Master of Design Methods program could offer the guidance he needed to shift his career and continue exploring different perspectives of space.

Since graduating in 2010, Lawrence has taught as an adjunct professor at ID as well as at the School of Visual Arts in New York. But on a typical day he is working to use space and services to solve client challenges with IDEO.

“When I first graduated from ID I was like ‘Okay, I’m a strategist, ignore this architecture background,’” he reflected. “It wasn’t until I actually embraced my previous career in architecture, and reevaluated what I had been doing through the lens of human-centered design, that suddenly I had a much bigger foundation to operate in.”

Lawrence melds his foundation in service design with his passion for innovating spaces. “Environment design is both the tangible quality of space and the intangible quality of service,” he said. “And those I believe are on the same spectrum, one is just physical and one is more relationship based.” He loves that as a consultant, he has the opportunity to dive deep into a range of fields from home mortgages to automotive care to social good. Since working with IDEO, he has collaborated on a government program, Area 2017, in Dubai for entrepreneurs solving world challenges. “We’re thinking about what kind of environment we need to bring energy, perspective, and hope to that area,” he explained. What’s exciting about his work, Lawrence said, is helping designers and their clients see challenges in a new way. In his process he brings insights to life through art and play. “Making something tangible is a way to unlock people’s minds.”

Lawrence encourages anyone cultivating their own design sensibilities not to shy away from new ways of approaching problems. Whether it’s by considering the perspectives of other cultures or turning abstract concepts into three-dimensional experiences, he’s found “it’s important to have the confidence and patience to trust the process.”