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Nwankpa Design

California Based Designer

Who or what inspires you professionally?

I’m inspired most by entrepreneurs, those that are creating and ideating bold visions for the world.



Susan Nwankpa Gillespie is a Nigerian-American architect & interior designer in Southern California. Her firm, Nwankpa Design, specializes in designing residences, restaurants, hospitality projects, and commercial spaces. Her contemporary designs have been published in Dwell, Interior Design Magazine, and The Architect’s Newspaper, and recognized by the AIA and NOMA.

How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that built environment profession was an area of interest for you?

A college class on American cities showed me how our built environment is shaped both positively and negatively by politics, tech & creativity. I was inspired to use my creativity to address issues in the world on a larger scale.

What do you do?

I’m the principal and creative director of Nwankpa Design, a black-owned, woman-owned Architecture and Interiors firm in Los Angeles, CA. We specialize in single family residential projects and commercial spaces with strong branding and identity.

What excites you in the work you do? 

Transformation and the ability manifest how a client wants to feel or represent themselves in the world.

Who or what inspires you professionally? 

I’m inspired most by entrepreneurs, those that are creating and ideating bold visions for the world.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement?

I'm most proud of starting my own architecture and interior design firm, Nwankpa Design. It was a tremendous leap of faith and I think all of the risks I took prior to that prepared me for the challenges of building something new.

Featured Project Name: 

Relativity Space

Featured Project Location: 

Long Beach, CA

Featured Project Completion Date: 


Role in Featured Project: 

Principal Architect

Featured Project Description:

Relativity Space is revolutionizing space travel with Terran 1, the world’s first 3D printed rocket. We designed their 19,600 sf office and café space to reflect their innovative spirit, incorporating their core values and biophilic elements. The sleek lobby, flexible lounge, and cafe spaces offer a welcoming environment for employees and visitors, while the design allows for growth and adaptability to capture infinite possibilities of the future.

Photography Credit:

Here and Now Agency

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