Architect Ming Thompson on the joy of making things

Before Ming Thompson became an architect, she was making doll, toys, and gadgets from the craft supplies she kept in tackle boxes and sewing tote bags in her high school dorm room. She never felt at home in art classes, but found her niche in a college architecture class on structural physics, making bridges out of pasta and towers out of sticks.

After earning a master's in architecture, Ming spent three years at a large firm learning about the big picture, practical skills and technical details that go into a successful building project. But a contest at her office to transform a San Francisco parking space, made her realize that she loved designing for the "in between scale." She now co-owns a design firm, Atelier Cho Thompson, which takes a holistic approach to design that includes not just architecture and interiors, but also installations, furniture, graphic design, and brand strategy. Ming says that owning their own business also lets her and her partner design how they want their firm and their lives to look.