Open For Humans

The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?

Open For Humans: Melanie Ryan, 31, Design Principal, OPEN for Humans & Todd Sussman, 34, Design Principal, OPEN for Humans

TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?

OFH: Mainly seeing other work, whether it be architecture, music, design, or different cities. However, Los Angeles is an inspiring place to be in the creative field, with the abundance of galleries, public art installations, and the conferences and events devoted to design—there is always something to see. If we have a slower day or are waiting to hear backon a design pitch, we explore a new part of the city. 

TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?

OFH: Yes and no, we are selective of what projects we choose to take on, we make exceptions if it's something we want to showcase that won't help build our portfolio or if it's something we get excited about. After ten years of professional experience working for big agencies and other firms, we've learned a lot about what we don't want and how taking on the right client—it needs to be a good fit for both parties. Not to say that there haven't been times we've had to tell ourselves "ok this is money we've earned, it will go towards funding a passion project, it's all worth it." We don't want to lower our standards, and we have a certain aesthetic that we strive to maintain.  

TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?

OFH: We're typical creative night owls, and set the tone with the right playlist and maybe a little dancing in the in between. We reference a collection of notes in our phones and quick captures taken throughout the day. Productivity comes from getting emails and follow-ups out mid-morning and casting that net before clients and prospective clients get preoccupied with other tasks and meetings in the afternoons. We value our mid-day lunch timeframe (I guess we really are Californians now), to get away from the desk and walk, and regroup on what else needs to be completed before the end-of-day. 

TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?

OFH: We are currently taking on new design clients, so landing the right brands to design headquarters, retail spaces or pop-up installations for, is one of our immediate future goals. The more guerrilla in nature, the better. We aim to blur the lines between architecture, art, and the creative agency in our designs for brands...propelling the structure-branding concept into being revered alongside some of the the designs that inspired us to get into this industry. 

TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?

OFH: Always. We would like to design and construct a large scale art installation in the desert around Joshua Tree. That landscape is such a far departure from the balmy/swampy Floridian landscape we grew up in. We've been fascinated with the natural backdrop and think it will provide a great backdrop for a bold structural experience.

TCU: What scares you?

OFH: Many times deadlines impose forced creativity and a real issue of those deadlines is creative block. Not being able to shake that is a real fear. 

TCU: What does success mean to you?

OFH: Melanie: The day when I can call up Jessica Walsh to discuss our next collaboration together. But seriously, for me, it's further establishing relationships with people and being able to design bolder and better,  letting the work speak for itself. I'm open to seeing the different directions we can go. 

Todd: Feeling satisfied with projects being completed true to design and delivered on time. 

TCU: Anything else you want to add?

OFH: Melanie: My biggest piece of advice (that I need to remind myself of every now and then), is to develop a style; hone in on a niche and keep exploring new ways to work within that niche. Connecting the dots and making the first move to introduce myself to someone has been a crucial part of my creative path. I schedule in twice a week to meet with someone new, or attend a workshop or event I don't know anyone at. Its a struggle to go sometimes, but I'm always happy I forced myself afterwards. That could apply as a fear as well, feel the fear of the unknown and do it anyway. 


You can learn more about Melanie and Todd and see more of their amazing work over at


DesignMeghan HoleComment