Leafbox Podcast
Interview: Architect Craig Steely

Interview: Architect Craig Steely

Architecture as a paradigm for navigating life, the environment, and creative thinking

Craig Steely, an American architect based both in Hawaii and California shares his philosophy on life and design. 

Craig's work stands out for its seamless integration of modern design with natural environments, creating spaces that are as stunning as they are sustainable. From his iconic Lavaflow homes in Hawaii to his urban homes in San Francisco, Craig's approach to architecture challenges conventional boundaries and invites us to reimagine our relationship with form, shape and our surroundings. 

I had the pleasure of speaking in detail with Craig on the importance of respecting the land and the environment in his projects, the influence of his experiences in Hawaii and California, the importance of maintaining a small, focused team in his practice, and the value of being able to work on a variety of scales and types of projects. Steely also shares his thoughts on the current state of architecture education, and the importance of critical thinking and a deep understanding of the land and environment in architectural practice.

As an architecture enthusiast and developer the conversation is refreshing and invigorating for those interested in thoughtful design and approach to building. 

Topic Time Stamps

  • (3:31) On being an outsider in Hawaii and California

  • (5:04) The D-Fin House / Relationship to clients

  • (7:41) Approach to land and geography

  • (11:23) Escaping design echo chambers / democratic design

  • (14:22) Getting lost in the power of form and shape

  • (18:22) On building the same house over and over 

  • (21:22) On surfing and its influence

  • (24:07) Architecture and parenting 

  • (27:07) On scale of architecture practice

  • (31:28) On the value of architecture education as creative problem discipline

  • (37:28) On architecture in Hawaii

  • (40:00) Relationship to the large scale / thoughts on urban planning

  • (47:20) On compromise in design

  • (48:14) On letting going of fears

  • (52:00) On the value of feral projects

  • (54:14) Conversation Pits and architecture tools

  • (57:34) On the future and new projects in Mexico

Learn more about his practice @ Craig Steely Architecture 

Photos: Darren Bradley / Craig Steely Architecture

D-Fin House, Captain Cook, Big Island, Hawaii
D Fin House - Captain Cook, Big Island, Hawaii

Roofless House Atherton, California
Invisible Pyramids Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico
Musubi House Paauilo, Big Island, Hawaii
Pam & Paul’s House
 Cupertino, California
Lavaflow - Big Island / Photo JD Peterson
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