Megan McGuinn

Megan McGuinn
Owner of Medium Small Design Studio

Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, UNC Charlotte (2010)
Bachelor of Architecture, UNC Charlotte (2011)

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

After practicing architecture for seven years, Megan McGuinn and her partner, alumnus Brandt Hewitt, founded a furniture and lighting design studio based in San Francisco called Medium Small, where they make their own collections of furniture and lighting products and take on specialty fabrication projects. Megan met Brandt in architecture school at UNC Charlotte, where they began their long-term creative partnership. She is also a jeweler, designing and fabricating fine jewelry pieces from her “postage-stamp sized studio.”  

“Our practice is design-driven, informed by materials and critical exploration through sketching, physical model making, and prototyping,” the team describes on their website. “We realize our collections, custom commissions, and in-situ buildouts through modern methodologies, employing a combination of handcrafted techniques, industrial tooling, and CAD and CAM softwares.

Megan McGuinn and Brandt Hewitt in their studio“All our designs are produced in our Tenderloin studio and in collaboration with a community of fabricators in and around San Francisco. Paired with our project management expertise and design savvy, this model allows us to keep our studio compact and our work versatile - all while ensuring high standards of quality control.”

While at UNC Charlotte, Megan says she was fortunate to have mentors who challenged their students to understand that connections, materials, context, and narrative are all part of the comprehensive design process. 

“The excellent fabrication facilities (and the expertise of faculty who ran them) were a valuable resource that allowed me to explore the ways that design and physical making can be intrinsically linked. This has directly impacted my career path.”

Some of her favorite memories on campus include “the late, great Phil Gaddy in full armor presiding over the immolation of discarded models at the end-of-semester Viking funeral.”

She also remembers the “specific, off-hand conversations with professors who helped me get ‘unstuck’ with indirect advice, and the myriad of hands-on making assignments like models, reliquaries, shadow boxes, kinetic sculptures, collages.”

Her advice for current students: “The program, like any university degree, is what you make of it. Follow your interests and take full advantage of the resources. My degree provided me with a strong foundation in design-thinking, and it has served me well in ways I didn’t expect.”

custom made lighting

Custom light fixtures made of new and reclaimed materials, designed and fabricated by Medium Small for Dear Inga, a restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco.