Published: Feb. 23, 2021 By

Tomas SchugurenskyMeet Tomas Schugurensky, a senior at CU Boulder and CEO of Built Different Studios, a boutique lighting business. Tomas is studying Environmental Design with a focus in architecture, as well as pursuing his Architectural Lighting Design Certificate offered through the Architectural Engineering program. Tomas created Built Different Studios because he wanted to start creating functional, sculptural lamps that challenge the status quo of a “normal” lamp. His intent is to create lamps that provoke curiosity and bring a smile!

Tomas grew up in Seattle, Washington, and has always been fascinated by physical things. With this passion for physical form and activities such as ceramics and woodworking, Tomas was grateful to find his place in architecture. Although it wasn't exactly in the way that Tomas manifested, becoming an entrepreneur was a goal of his for some time. 

Built Different Studios

At Built Different Studios, Tomas handles the process from design concept to manufacturing and sales. Since he was a child, Tomas has always been surrounded by art. Tomas shared this story on what inspired him to self operate Build Different Studios:

“Through a combination of inspiration and curiosity, I started to produce lamps that felt like a physical expression of what I love all in one. I strongly believe that we should surround ourselves with objects that put a smile on our faces by “teasing” our eyes and minds. Whatever the subject, a strong sense of engaged discovery should be present, whether through color, form, or function. Having used laser cutters in class for architectural models, I started obsessing with the possibilities waiting to materialize. I have been inspired by sources that intrigued me over time. Age-old Japanese principles of proportioning and joinery such as Ken and Dougong influenced the construction and size of the pieces. Clean lines and geometries from the Bauhaus and De Stijl era inspired the way the multi-layered elements coexisted in harmony. I built upon those concepts with my own aesthetic. I wanted to create a functional, sculptural lamp that played with the idea of what a “normal” lamp can be. Something that when seen, invites someone to get closer and view from all angles, explore the ins and outs, its construction details, and provoke a smile.”

Check out the website here! Tomas does custom work and has his products carried at The Seattle Art Museum Shop as well. Currently, he is working on pendant light designs for a high end furniture company. Local artisan communities in Mexico will manufacture the designs using only sustainable materials. 

COVID-19 Implications

Tomas believed that COVID-19 was a key reason as to why he is in business. After his plans to go abroad last summer were postponed, he spent his time building lamps and raising money to buy a laser cutter for his production. In addition, with so many spending most of their time at home during quarantine, he enjoys bringing beautiful light to homes that puts smiles on their faces.

Advice for Current Students

In wanting to start a business or invent something, Tomas emphasizes having passion in whatever you’re hoping to invent or start a business,

“Make sure it’s something you are truly and deeply passionate about. While currently taking 19 credits in my senior spring semester, I would not have the energy to further my business if I didn’t love it. There will be really hard days where the easy choice would be to walk away, but if you love and believe in what you are doing, you’ll have the strength to press onward.”

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