Schneider Leaves Architecture Giant Gensler To Run Brooklyn-Based Experiential Design Studio Volvox Labs

April 5, 2024 by Dave Haynes

I wrote a reply to a PR company this morning saying I was sorry, but I didn’t intend to write about a new hire its client had announced, because readers didn’t tend to have much interest in new hires – especially for things like new regional sales directors or managers of this or that.

But, once in a while news comes along that is worth relaying, because there will be broader interest – like Michael Schneider leaving Gensler to run a small experiential design company in Brooklyn.

Schneider has joined Volvox Labs as CEO and Director of Media Architecture.

I got to know Schneider when he was experience design at New York’s ESI Design, and then he took on a similar role at a giant company, the global architecture firm Gensler. If you go to conferences, you’ve probably grown familiar with Schneider because he’s kindly given his time to all kinds of stand-up talks and panels related to experiential design, notably the process. He did a good talk recently during ISE in Barcelona.

How he’s gone to Volvox, which is a fraction of the size of Gensler but probably also having a fraction of the layers of approvals and numbers of meetings inherent with giant companies and whale-sized clients.

He posted this on Linkedin:

I have known and respected Kamil and his team for almost ten years and have completed some of my favorite projects working with Volvox Labs. A few months ago, an off-hand comment over coffee about strategically growing Volvox finally sunk in on the subway ride home at which point I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to be part of this team’s future. Fast-forward two months and I am stoked to be wearing my own Volvox Labs t-shirt.

There were many reasons that this was the right decision for me, but here are the top four:

– Lab Environment and Process – VOLVOX LABS is just that, a LAB that enables our team, our clients and our partners to iterate in the medium, removing abstraction and allowing for the development of craft through hands-on exploration. This is the future of work. Everywhere I have worked I have built a lab, and VOLVOX is the ultimate lab.

– Digital as Process not Medium – A team that is adept across all 5 senses, utilizing fabrication, XR, Robots, immersive and responsive visuals, spatialized audio, complex sensing, Virtual Production, AI…. and more, to create experiences designed for humans.

– Rhythm – The VOLVOX team is steeped in rhythm and innately understands that each space, experience and person has its own unique rhythm. The rhythm of a lobby is very different from that of a restaurant or of a new car launch, but in each case, if the rhythm is right, everyone is invited to dance.

– Community and Culture – If you have ever been to a VOLVOX event, you know that this is a place that is a hub of the creative technology community and is committed to investing and growing the community at large. Our team works with academic institutions like NYU ITP/IMA, SVA Computer Arts, and Pratt Digital Arts and Animation, while also holding community learning events and showcasing art. We get smarter only if everyone around us also gets smarter.

All of this comes together to create work that infuses our spaces with living culture.

Smart, very nice man. He also has the Brooklyn vibe about him.

I don”t know much about Volvox but the projects page looks impressive and diverse as hell – everything from immersive digital spaces to kinetic sculptures.

This is the one project I know (and one I very much liked) – an IBM Moon Walk experience set up in the Oculus, that cavernous retail space in the World Trade Center complex in NYC.

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