If you are partial to acronyms, you can think of SOFTlab as a Studio Of Fantastic Things and a place that fosters experimentation through our work. On the other hand, SOFTlab was created with the idea that a group of designers with diverse interests can take on a wide range of projects in exciting and unexpected ways. Rather than a large group of experts, our eclectic team relies on curiosity, difference, and experimentation to expand the bounds of what we can do with contemporary technology and ideas. Allowing us to be more nimble, malleable, and soft.  

Who We Are

SOFTlab is a design studio based in New York City led by Michael Szivos. The studio combines a research-based design practice with an interest in how technology, craft, and materials come together in ways that explore the boundaries between art, architecture, other disciplines, and the public.

We are a mix of artists, listeners, geeks, dreamers, teachers, believers, programmers, and architects. Above all, we are curious designers. Our curiosity is driven by the idiosyncratic nature of the world and the expectations people have of how they engage with that world and each other. Rather than rationalize or give order to that world we are inspired by its peculiar messiness and seek to reframe it through our work. While technology can be seen as simply an alibi for innovation or progress, we see technology as an opportunity to enable new perspectives of where we might find unexpected possibilities, playfulness, and beauty in an increasingly complex world. Ultimately, we strive for our projects to elicit a sense of wonder and a rethinking of our relationship to each other and the world around us.

How We Work

We work at a wide range of scales and for many types of clients from cities to corporations to civic institutions and arts organizations. Our interests lie less in defined project categories, but more in those projects that straddle disciplines, industries, and mediums. While design is a big part of what we do, it does not end when production begins. We produce most aspects of our work from programming to fabrication to installation.

Our approach always starts by exploring contextual conditions and effects. This context can be anything from a place to a project brief. By examining found conditions, we create interventions that become an extension of something existing that might not be readily apparent. We develop our work as a translation of the often dynamic phenomena on the site. In that way, our work forms an experiential contextualism, rather than a literal one. The specificity of the connection to the site is made through active engagement with people. This allows us to achieve projects which are unexpected, yet become connected to people and plces as they unfold.

We have produced projects for a number of clients and in cities around the world. You can browse our work by year, location, and client below:

Year: 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021 / 2022 / 2023

Location: Alexandria / Atlanta / Austin / Bangkok / Barcelona / Beijing / Boston / Cincinnati / Cologne / Dallas / Denver / Dubai / Fort Lauderdale / Frankfurt / Hong Kong / Hualien City / Kansas City / Las Vegas / Lausanne / Lexington / London / Los Angeles / Lyon / Melbourne / Mexico City / Miami / Milan / Montreal / Mountain View / Mumbai / Munich / Nanjing / New Haven / New York / Ningbo / Orlando / Paris / Perth / Philadelphia / Prague / Raleigh / San Antonio / San Francisco / Santo Domingo / Seoul / Shenzhen / Singapore / Sydney / Venice

Client: 21c Museum Hotel / 23rd Street Partnership / 2x4 / 3M / Adobe / Audemars Piguet / Behance / Blue Marlin / Center for Architecture / City of Alexandria / Contemporary Arts Center / Disney / Elga Wimmer Gallery / EPFL+ECAL Lab / Etsy / Eyebeam / Facebook / Frankfurter Kunstverein / Glass Trösch / Google / HP / IBM / Innisfree / Instagram / Intel / K11 / Kansas City International Airport / Lincoln / Metropolitan Museum of Art / New Museum / New York Hall of Science / Pentagram / Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority / Pratt Institute / RAB Lighting / Signal / Sonos / Southbank Centre / Storefront for Art and Architecture / Tellart / The Architectural League of New York / The Atlantic / The Creators Project / The Lake & Stars / TIAA / Two Bridges Neighborhood Council / University Health / Van Alen Institute / Vice / Vornado Realty Trust / Wexford

Interactive Work: While we are constantly exploring how digital tools allow us to design and produce our work in new ways, we are also very interested in the increasingly blurred lines between physical and digital space. This interest has led to a range of projects that include interactive experiences activated by sound, touch, and motion. Below is a mix of those projects that showcase how we consider what inventive and fun possibilities lie ahead as the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds become more and more ambiguous.