The Future Is Bright

Photography provided by Luminaut


LEAD: Tell me how you began with Luminaut.

Matt Erdman: I started with Luminaut in January 2016. I joined the company when Rick Koehler was transitioning out of ownership. Andy and Nora were minority partners at that time. I met Nora through AIA (American Institute of Architects) Vision program, and actually co-opted for Andy twenty-
something years ago.

The transition has been great – a lot of changes and additions since we took over. The rebrand reflects the changes since 1979 when the company was founded. It has been 40 years of evolution, internally. Lots of change to our culture, lots of changes in the industry.

We started looking about a year and a half ago at where we were positioned and how that aligned with who we are. And we found that there was a little bit of a miss there. As we were expanding nationally, we were finding that there was an “Architects Plus” in many of these cities and each one of those companies had their own reputation in each market. That was kind of clouding how we were perceived. So, the combination of that and seeing a little bit of a misalignment between our internal culture and our external brand, was the impetus to dig in and evaluate who we were and make sure that we were communicating that effectively to the world.


LEAD: Are you very happy with these changes?

Matt Erdman: Oh, yes. It has been great.


LEAD: How has the rebranding felt within the company?

Matt Erdman: Everyone has loved the branding. Again, we have created this culture that is collaborative and internally has a lot of energy. I think everyone had felt a bit of misalignment, that people did not get to know us until they got to come in and experience who we were and work with us. It really changed their impression. Everyone has been happy with the change.


LEAD: I’m guessing that it feels like a fresh start to everyone, like a rebirth and now you can move forward with some skin in the game. Does it seem that way?

Matt Erdman: It really does. We have a legacy here, though, that we are proud of. We are not trying to say we are not that anymore. It is a testament to Rick Koehler and Mike LeVally, the founding partners, that here we are, 37-38 years later and we are a strong company and we are growing. That legacy that they built, we are trying to expand upon it and not leave it behind. We want to honor that,
as well.


LEAD: Was there anyone who was dragging their feet on it?

Matt Erdman: Not at all. We didn’t go in with an absolute goal of a name change. We simply started the process of evaluating where we were, and it led us to that conclusion.


LEAD: How did the name Luminaut come to be?

Matt Erdman: We worked with a branding company, BLDG. We did a lot of immersive brainstorming and dialogue about our culture and who we are internally and what we want to represent to the world and they came up with a list of names. The idea of Luminaut is light-explorer, this idea that we take people through the journey of design. We are their design sherpa. We lead the way in the exploration of what their design project is about. Many clients come to us with a project, but they don’t know exactly what problems they are trying to solve, or they know what problems they are trying to solve but don’t know exactly how to do it. For us, being able to read between the lines and get to the bottom of that, the essence of what they are trying to accomplish in a project, then guiding them through is what we are all about.

It is important to us that we leave our egos aside. We are definitely a humble group and we try to bring that to every project. Architects and designers sometimes have the reputation of being willful. We reject that.


LEAD: What does the future look like for Luminaut?

Matt Erdman: Good question. We are growing, and we are trying to grow smart. We are not just trying to capitalize on this great economy we are having. We are looking for sustainable growth, so we are trying to balance the markets that we are in so that every new job is a permanent job, or as permanent as we can make it. And then to see where that leads us as far as the growth and size. But more than that, we are growing in our innovation. It is this illuminative quality in what we do. We want to keep the thought that our current project is our best project.


LEAD: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your company?

Matt Erdman: If they don’t know us, come check us out. We’ll talk.


Luminaut is located at 1100 Sycamore Street, Suite 200, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.984.1070 or visit