The Intersection of Kendama and Architecture

Christian The Intersection of Kendama and Architecture Podcast

While he was growing up, Christian Fraser enjoyed math, building things, and making things work. He assumed that he’d end up becoming an engineer of some sort. Then he had the opportunity to take architecture classes in high school. While many of his classmates didn’t take the architecture classes seriously, Christian got more and more interested. 

When he was assigned to find a building that he liked and then model it using the Revit tool, he discovered the Gwathmey Residence, designed by architect Charles Gwathmey, one of the New York Five. He was blown away by the building. He also found that he really enjoyed working with the Revit tool. This led him to continue his architecture studies. 

Christian decided to attend Southern Polytechnic State University – now Kennesaw State University – in Georgia, and began working as an architect shortly after graduation. He now works for Perkins+Will. 

In addition to studying architecture, Christian developed an interest in a toy called the Kendama. Kendama is a Japanese skill toy similar to the cup-and-ball toy. However, instead of one cup, a Kendama has three cups and a spike that fits into a hole in the ball. Chris began posting videos of himself playing with the Kendama and participating in competitions. He’s now a professional player for Sweets Kendamas, a company that promotes, demonstrates, documents, and teaches the skill and craft of Kendama. 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode   

  • What inspired Christian to pursue a career in architecture
  • What things Christian is good at
  • What Christian did after he was done with architecture school
  • What Kendama is and what Christian does with it
  • How Christian got famous for Kendama
  • Where architecture and the Kendama intersect
  • Whether Kendama interferes with architecture
  • Where to learn more about Kendama
  • The workshop Christian will be giving at the Young Architect Conference
  • How Christian got into rendering
  • Christian’s main software programs
  • How long Christian has been at Perkins+Will
  • Christian’s role at Perkins+Will
  • Christian’s advice for aspiring architects
  • Christian’s advice for aspiring Kendama players
  • What Christian knows now that he didn’t know before architecture school
  • Christian’s favorite gadget
  • Christian’s timesaving tricks for working efficiently
  • Where to find Christian on social media 

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode  

  1. You can have a career in architecture and still pursue hobbies or other activities that you enjoy. 
  2. Architecture is about looking at the world in a different way. 
  3. It’s fine if you have to try several different ways of doing a thing before you find the way that’s right for you. 

Christian Fraser’s Advice for Aspiring Architects  

“To me, to be a successful architect, you just have to look at things differently. I think that’s what architecture school really teaches you in the end. So, like going out and looking at art, looking at graphic design in places, looking at buildings. And forming an opinion. Like, OK, I hate this building. Why do I hate it? Think about it, and maybe think about how you’d do it differently. Or find a building you love. Oh, this is amazing. Figure out why you like it, figure out what’s been done successfully, what’s not been done successfully, and then you take that worldly experience – which also should come from traveling, that’s like the number one thing you need to be doing when you’re young is just getting out there and looking at stuff all across the world. Buildings, cultures, meeting different people, that’s an invaluable experience. It’s just the best thing you can do. So, from all of that just look at things, think about them, then start applying it to things you’re doing. Your projects, your designs, whatnot. Then try as many ideas as you can. I think one of my main thoughts behind the design process is you have to do like, a million ways wrong before you get to the right way to do it for you. There are always more ways to do things, but there ultimately is going to be a solution that works for the designer, a solution that works for the client, a solution that works for the budget and so on and so forth.” 

Favorite Quotes 

“For anyone that’s aspiring to be a Kendama player there’s two things you gotta do: you’ve got to play Kendama and meet people.” –Christian Fraser on advice for aspiring Kendama players. 

“In the end, everything comes down to personal choices.” –Christian Fraser on what he knows today that he didn’t know before 

“They have like, transformed the way so many people do things.” –Christian Fraser on why his Airpods are his favorite gadget 

“Personally, I’m most efficient in the morning – I know everyone’s not like that – but to be the most efficient for me it’s like, get to work right at 8am and bang out as much as you can in the morning session where you have morning juices flowing.” –Christian Fraser on his best timesaving trick   

Resources Mentioned in the Show  

Christian Fraser
Christian on Instagram
Sweets Kendamas
Young Architect Conference
Gwathmey Residence
Kennesaw State University 




Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, Founder and Head Coach of the ARE Boot Camp Coaching Program & Online Study Group.

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