founder     farmer    teacher

Trent Smith is an architect, interior designer, and instructor living in Salt Lake City, UT. He has spoken and published domestically and abroad in architecture, human ritual through space, art, and its impact on human experience over time. He founded Modern Out West in 2019 to bring craft and beauty back into the architectural design of third places, community spaces where people live, work, and play. Trained and educated first as a farmer, then as an interior designer and an architect, Trent is uniquely qualified to bring a holistic approach to new builds, remodels and projects of all scales. He is one of the few in the country licensed as both Interior Designer and Architect, and brings a common-sense approach and contextual sensitivity to all spaces he designs.

He has worked in the architecture and design industries for over fifteen years, and has taught architecture at the University of Utah since 2013 in the Foundations program of the School of Architecture. He is quick to listen, eager to teach, and really bad at being genuinely funny, though he tries. Having taught hundreds of future architects and planners the nuances of foundations in design, Trent has continually focused on having the existing context have a voice and a seat at the planning table. Too often he has found that designers want to ‘clean slate’ a landscape or environment, without first truly considering what can be saved.His approach to sustainable and ecological design derives from a ‘save first, build later’ approach to improving existing conditions as the first step in sustainability and resilient architecture. As part of this, Trent has built his studio around adaptive reuse and capital improvement architecture and interiors, and has dedicated his work to keeping great monuments alive physically or digitally.

Growing up, Trent was a farmer and landscape nurseryman on a small farm in Tennessee. This experience creates a unique, personal perspective to sustainable practices and the value of creating ecological environments, both indoors and out. A deep regard for people is the strongest guiding force behind everything Trent does. He was raised to value unprompted acts of kindness, and carries the belief that people are far more important than projects. He started his own studio looking to find a better way of doing business than the poisonous work environment and excessive stress that is so common in creative studios, and makes each decision focused on providing for and supporting the people around him.

Certifications / Memberships

  • Inter-Society of Color Council Member
  • Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Forum Board Member
  • Bliss Foundation Board Member and Trustee
  • National Certification Architectural Registration Board
  • American Institute of Architects Professional
  • National Certification of Interior Design Qualifications
  • International Interior Design Association Professional
  • American Society of Interior Designers Professional

  • Education

  • 2011 University of Utah, Masters in Architecture
  • 2008 Tennessee Technological University, Bachelors Interiors
  • 2004 Motlow State Community College, Assoc Physics

  • Professional Experience

  • 2019-24 Modern Out West, Owner and Architect
  • 2015-19 AJC Architects, Associate and Architect
  • 2014-15 VCBO Architects, BIM Lead and Designer
  • 2011-14 VCBO Architects, Project Manager and Designer
  • 2009-15 Anna Bliss Studio, Screenprinter & Art Assistant
  • 2008-09 Denton House Interiors, Arch and Interiors
  • 2007 Maffett Bouton & Associates, Arch Designer
  • 2005 Lenhart Design Co, Interior Designer

  • Publications and Features

  • 2016 College Ministry Out West, book
  • 2017 Design Arts Utah, Design Guide book
  • 2018 Sacred Geometries in Worship, Faith & Form

  • Exhibitions

  • 2018 Design Build Bluff, ACSF Symposium Toronto
  • 2019 Bliss Celebration of Life
  • 2023 Bliss Furniture Retrospective

  • Service Work

  • 2009-2014 Murray Park Ministry, college and youth
  • 2010-2013 Fourth Street Mission, Volunteer
  • 2010-2013 Utah Food Bank, Volunteer

  • Hobbies / Interests

  • Gardening / horticulture / all things dirt
  • Reading more than picture books, slowly learning how
  • Rearranging the studio, playing with space
  • Some would say working, but I promise it’s not
  • Using Format