What do you think of when you hear the term “architect”?  One might imagine rulers and mechanical pencils when defining the term. But what about the term “designer”? Perhaps the image broadens and allows for expanded creativity. Curtis Popp of Popp Littrell Architecture + Interiors does have an Interior Architecture degree, but moreover, he is a designer. His passion and talent permeate not only his professional portfolio, but his own home. Popp considers more than just brick and mortar when he designs –it’s about ideas and emotion. Popp states that “authenticity is a big part of what we do” and he tries to consider the integrity of the surrounding community when he drafts designs, such as being informed about the history of the location and the original materials. Sacramento, for example has a “pioneer element” that Popp sees as part of its charm, as well as its ability to change and evolve.

Curtis Popp attended the California College of Arts and Crafts with aspirations to make a profession out of creativity and now feels “extremely lucky” that he is doing what he has always wanted to do. Of course he has to maintain a balance between work and family, respond to numerous daily emails, and accommodate his clients’ schedules, but his business is growing. In the beginning he had 4-5 jobs going at one particular time and now, with business partner Dustin Littrell and Beatrice Fung, they are able to maintain a workload of nearly 20 jobs. They work in a collaborative office with open space so that he, Dustin and Beatrice can talk openly side-by-side as they work in front of their computer monitors. Popp’s process involves listening to the client and then delving into the design. In the end he hopes to increase his client’s quality of life by creating “spaces that function better… spaces that make them feel alive.” He wants the room to work in such a way that “what you touch and what you see works in harmony.” Working with clients who have a passion for the project feeds his enthusiasm – it keeps him striving, working hard, and motivated; it “recharges [his] batteries.”

Having the privilege to see the inside of this designer’s home adds amazing insight to his values as a designer. When he renovated his 1940s home it had already been altered in the 60s and had additional work done in the 80s, so Popp sought to implement continuity and authenticity in his home, making it a “new version of itself.” One unique aspect of Popp’s home is his family’s obvious appreciation for art. Local art. Popp’s art collection is impressive, and a significant amount belongs to work done by his father, Ron Popp. His father’s work hangs next to other accomplished sculptors, painters, and artists, but is not the only familial artistic influence in his home; his two kids lend their artistic contributions through illustrations and poetry, and his wife, Susan, has an eye for decorating. Popp feels that a formal living room is important and for his residence specifically, “the low ceilings create intimacy” and since “feeling is the most important thing” the compress and release aspect of this room leading into the kitchen adds a delineation of space that flows naturally. Having an approachable space begins with authenticity, which leads to honesty and finally trust, which Popp considers to be the “biggest word in our business.”

Popp carries these values of trust and authenticity throughout the design process and in his relationships with his clients; he applies it to the residences he designs and the commercial spaces he seeks to serve. Though Popp might not consider himself to be an “artist” in the traditional sense, he defines one as honest and personal, someone who has a burning desire to create, engage, and evoke participation. By these definitions, Curtis Popp is most definitely, an artist.

To see furniture designs from cpopp workshop, visit http://www.cpoppworkshop.com

To see spaces & structures from Popp Littrell, visit: http://plarch.com.

Nicky Park is a Sacramento writer currently pursuing her master's degree in creative writing at Sacramento State University.
Photography by Zephyr McIntyre.

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