A Q&A with Flower's Nicholas Fiore

Principal Architect and Founder of FLOWER Architecture takes a minute to tell us more about his background and his blossoming Boulder-based studio.

Learn more about FLOWER here.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how it has led you to start FLOWER?

FLOWER’s tagline is that we’re “a modern architecture and design studio dedicated to the thoughtful making of spaces” which is the absolute truth. Really, FLOWER was inevitable in a way, or at least as inevitable as anything in life can be. I always knew I would run my own curiosity shop. Weirdly, I knew this long ago, even as a child back near Philly where I grew up. After working for nearly two decades in excellent design studios locally and back East, it was time to plant a flag (flower) and seek out a co-conspirator clientele with which I can share and explore new ideas.

To me that exploration and innovation is the best part of life, and the best feature of architectural practice.

Portrait of Nick Fiore by Amanda Lenz (lenzillustration.com)
What is your design philosophy and approach?

Architects don’t tend to smile in pictures, and collectively our websites tend to the bleakness of black, white, and gray—and that has always bothered me. Smiling is not antithetical to seriousness! We set out on a different path. FLOWER’s philosophy and approach toward our work is one of curiosity and fun. We take the work very seriously, and we take the fun very seriously as well. When clients select an architect, it is the starting point for a lengthy and intimate collaboration, and the time spent working together is as important as the end result. In fact, we believe it is a main ingredient in the end result. 

As to design philosophy, well, I encourage people to look at the work and judge for themselves. We are modern architects practicing modern architecture. There may be descriptors that apply to our work, depending on the project. Contextual modernism may be the most apt, in that our approach includes an investigation of the surroundings, constraints, and opportunities of the literal and figurative site. We also highly value natural materials and the warmth they can provide. And like any modern architect—we love and obsess over details.

Tell us about what you are working on right now?

We have a very interesting modular custom home that will begin construction this summer. It will be factory built —interiors fully complete—and shipped on six trucks to the site, then craned in place in a day. Looking forward to that one, the time-lapse on “crane day” will be killer.

We also have two projects that will be completed this summer. One is in the crown jewel, historic Mapleton neighborhood of Boulder, our take on modern in a very rigidly controlled design district. The second is a more purely modern home which features some cool tricks we’re excited to see through to the end. Both of these will, hopefully, find their way into the world via photography in the fall at the latest.

We are also actively seeking out commercial and multi-family or civic work. There are innovative developers and clients out there who we admire and are eager to collaborate with on cool work. There are so many great things happening on the Front Range in the last decade or so, it’s been a privilege to be a part of the architecture community during this time.

What artists, architects, or designers you most admire that have influenced your work? 

There are so many. My dog’s name is Louie Kahn. So, there’s that. Visiting Center City Philly in the 80s, as a child, I was fascinated with the built environment. The work of Kahn is sublime, and his work is paramount in my mind. I refer to his work weekly, at least.

Similarly, there’s a prolific Philadelphia architect named Frank Furness who is amongst the most innovative and creative architects of the past two centuries, in my humble opinion. He fought in the Civil War, then established a studio in Philadelphia. His work was almost psychedelic in its exuberance and creativity, at a time when masonry and iron were the materials of choice—no easy feat.

More recent works by the likes of KieranTimberlake, WG Clark, and Sverre Fehn are amongst my favorites. The work and writings of the Eameses are also very central to my thinking on architecture and design thinking as an equalizer, that to treat it as only a luxury service is a mistake. I try to reach outside architecture for inspiration as well, and music provides endless creative input. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of 50s and 60s jazz, and also rock like the Cramps and Danzig. Because why not? I’ve always found great inspiration, as well, in the DIY punk ethos, the indie music scene, and the idea that you can make of things as you see fit if you apply effort, inspiration, and more effort. Artists that have influenced my work and ideas about process include Duchamp with his paintings and readymades; Joseph Cornell’s boxes; Joan Miro; William Eggleston; and Louise Nevelson.

Learn more about FLOWER here.