Features

Architecture firm uses Web to help build projects

By Jennifer Nguyen
La Habra Journal

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 12.16.02 AMContext isn’t just your average architectural firm. Employees there are trying to “save the world from bad design” as well.
Located at 2411 W. Whittier Blvd., Context has been creating, developing and designing projects since 2011. Context’s creations, from wall-mounted systems to shelving systems, each include unique designs and structures to fit each client’s needs for business, office space or home.
The team, headed by CEO Diego Pirona, includes Jesus Deloya, director of digital fabrication; Kurt Snyder, who manages specifications and logistics; designers Edgar Agudelo and Milton Garavito; and lead designer Steven Costanzo. Pirona, who has had at least 20 years of experience in architecture, formerly taught part-time at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. This is where he first met Snyder and Deloya. They later met Costanzo through mutual friends.
The company’s major clientele have included Mission Foods, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Lumber Liquidators. But serving those in the local community is still a particular focus at Context.
“People locally have to know what we’re doing. I can’t understand reaching out globally without doing it locally first,” said Pirona.
In addition to large projects for big businesses, Context also creates smaller pieces of work, such as skateboard decks, space dividers and wall art panels. These smaller-scale projects are especially aimed at people who cannot afford large-scale installments and displays.
An example of this would be a piece called “Samurai Girl,” which is a miniature wall art panel made from maple veneers with a detailed design of a young girl in samurai gear backlit by rays of sun. The design is carved into a piece of wood.
According to Pirona, the job of designers and architects is to decipher all the ideas clients have and “funnel them.”
“That’s a challenge,” said Pirona. “We’re working with each individual’s library, so we have to quickly interpret that. We want to funnel it into, ‘okay, this is what we have as options,’ and they choose the options.”
Earlier this month, the company started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds that will help them get a Computer Numerical Controlled  machine, which will allow them to start producing the full line of designs without the need to rely on outside sources.
“One of the big things about Context from the very beginning was the idea of creating cool stuff that’s affordable, and that’s one reason why we’re running the Kickstarter,” said DeLoya, designer and director of digital fabrication at Context. “Since we fabricate outside, it’s going to raise the prices. Prices would go down if we do it all in-house.”
The funds will also help the company purchase more workspace, allowing Context to fit the machines needed and to start fabricating designs.
“The only way we’ll succeed is if we start to grow, and Kickstarter is just part of that,” said Pirona. “There’s many businesses, without fail, that don’t reach out; they don’t ask for help. This is our time to step it up. Sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone. You never know what will happen.”
Currently, the company is working on award displays for the American Institute of Architects, which will be used at the 2013 Monterey Design Conference. This is an annual event that brings together some of the world’s leading architects and designers.
At Context, staff members see themselves as more than just a product. As Costanzo explained, they are a philosophy, constantly evolving. “Anything we can dream, we can make it work.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.