Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Cory Sistrunk of Rapt Studio
What does a typical day at Rapt look like?
"I think my favorite part about a day at Rapt is that every day seems to be different. One meeting is reviewing a new video we’re releasing; the next is about a new office design. Then, it's on to a website meeting or product design. I think I enjoy getting to dig into what makes some of the most powerful companies in the world work and then sit with a start-up and see what drives them and what challenges they are facing."
Tell us a little bit about what you do at Rapt?
"I think we’ve got a pretty ambitious vision. The design we do, no matter the project or medium, is connected deeply to why our clients matter and what makes them tick. So, I basically spend my day making sure our designers, strategists, and architects are helping push that vision. I’m also working closely with our clients to do the same thing. I guess that’s just a fancy way of saying I spend most of every day in meetings."
Your background is not specifically in interior design, how did you decide this was the industry for you?
"I went to school for graphic design. I started my career and worked my way from a junior designer to a creative director at a big company. We ended up rebranding twice, and I guess that’s what got me really interested in design as a holistic experience — something that can make a brand cohesive when it’s done right and hits all the touch points. We created the identity, website, apps, uniforms, products, and space and brought them all together under a big idea. It was a lot of fun. I think lines between different forms of design are blurring. When I had the chance to join Rapt a couple of years ago, I saw a studio that had the same vision to design great experiences, and I saw the space as a great way to create some amazing experiences and build cohesive brands."
What are your go-to threads when dressing for work?
"I'm pretty boring when it comes to clothes. I think a good pair of denims and a T-shirt is all I really ever need. I don’t really care where it comes from, but I grew up surfing and skateboarding, which I think probably influences my choices. I’ll usually grab black or blue denim from G-Star
, T-shirts from American Apparel
, or brands like Stussy
. I prefer simple oxfords from J.Crew
, or sometimes I like to wear a pair of classic Vans or an old pair of Chucks. And, when the occasion requires I might wear a blazer. I guess I have a hard time dressing up for work."
What has been the most memorable project you have worked on?
was a great client and a great project. We were able to go in and really help Adobe define what the brand stood for in the digital age, and we were able to design through a lot of unexpected mediums. When you walk into that campus, you’re not really walking into an office — you’re experiencing a brand."
What makes Rapt different from other firms out there?
"We’re multidisciplinary. Let me start out by saying that I know a lot of people say that when they only really cover one or two disciplines. But, because we believe brands have to evolve to stay relevant, we have to be ready to evolve, too. The world keeps getting faster, and there simply isn’t enough time to design in silos anymore. Ultimately, it means that we look at design through the lens of experience. From built to virtual environments, we’ve got a staff of designers, writers, strategists, developers, and architects who create some amazing stuff."
When you aren't jetting between the L.A. and S.F. offices, where can we find you?
"I spend most of my time out of the office hanging with my wife, Kelsey, and our two daughters, Harlee, four, and Kostyn, two. They keep me pretty busy, but I love it. Besides that, I love surfing, skateboarding, and golfing."
What can you say about the design world of San Francisco in comparison to other major design cultures?
"San Francisco is an innovation incubator. It naturally attracts people who are willing to do different things and push the envelope a bit. A culture that revolves around creating the future breeds the type of clients who are more willing to take risks with design."
Where do you gain inspiration from?
"Everything around me. This started as a kid, and I think it’s the one thing that’s influenced my career the most. I’m always trying to be aware and approach design from the stuff that surrounds me, and it doesn’t matter what it is. I was looking at some shoes the other day, and a light went off for an architectural design challenge. We brought in an amazing street artist, El Mac
, to paint a mural for the Adobe project. You don’t typically associate street art with office space, but the results were incredible. Inspiration, at least for me, is always about the commonplace."
What are some of the biggest interior design stereotypes you would like to bash?
"I think a lot of people see interior designers as decorators; at least it seems that way sometimes. But, the more I work with interior designers, the more I appreciate how they approach design. It’s three-dimensional, and they think deeply about how people experience a space. And, I think these experiences are what ultimately create value for companies."
Who are your interior design icons?
"As far as interior designers go, I love Masamichi Katayama. He works at Wonderwall and the stuff he’s doing is absolutely incredible. He’s a genius, and a master at bringing in unexpected mediums to create a level of detail and experience that I really admire."
Cory gets to work wearing an Obey button-up, an Anti-Anti T-shirt, Uniqlo jeans, and Converse sneakers.