Amanda Dunfield | Astra Studios

Amanda Dunfield, AIA, NCARB, is the founder and CEO of Astra Studios, a social enterprise design firm based in Columbus, Ohio. We recently sat down with Amanda to chat about her design journey, her passion for social good, and the challenges and triumphs of running a purpose-driven business.

A Childhood Sparked by Design: Amanda Dunfield | Astra Studios

Amanda’s love for design began in Columbus, Ohio, where her father, a general contractor, took her on job sites and nurtured her dreams of becoming an architect. They explored the historic brewery district, sparking a fascination with existing buildings and their stories. This early experience continues to shape Amanda’s design philosophy today.

Amanda Dunfield | Astra Studios: A Global Journey and a Call to Action

After attending the University of Cincinnati, Amanda embarked on a world tour, gaining experience at 13 different design firms through a unique co-op program. This journey instilled in her a strong belief in continuous learning and the courage to move on when a role no longer ignites your passion.

Astra Studios: Design with a Social Impact

Astra Studios embraces a two-fold mission: providing architecture and interior design services for residential spaces (ASTRA LIVING) and using design as a tool for social good. A portion of their profits goes towards social impact projects, while their social enterprise arm offers discounted design services to purpose-driven organizations.

Breathing New Life into Over-the-Rhine: Amanda Dunfield | Astra Studios

Amanda’s love for historic buildings led Astra Studios to focus on revitalization projects in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district. This once-neglected area presented a complex challenge, balancing historic preservation with the needs of the community. Astra Studios’ work exemplifies the power of design to not only create beautiful spaces, but also to foster social impact.

Design for Good: A Holistic Approach

For Amanda, design is more than aesthetics. It’s about considering the social impact of built environments. Her vision is to empower small businesses and organizations that serve their communities, fostering inclusivity and sustainability.

Social Enterprise: Creating a Model for Change

Astra Studios donates 10% of its services and has established a fund through the United Way to welcome philanthropy and maximize their positive community impact. Their goal is to create a platform that attracts designers who share their passion for social good, ultimately transforming spaces across the country and even the world.

A Project Close to the Heart: Kitty Bubble Cat Cafe

One of Amanda’s proudest achievements is the Kitty Bubble Cat Cafe. Despite a limited budget, Astra Studios created a welcoming space that has facilitated the adoption of over 250 cats in its first year. This project exemplifies the power of design to foster inclusivity and social change.

Challenges and Triumphs of a Woman-Owned Business: Amanda Dunfield | Astra Studios

Amanda acknowledges the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. She has navigated the complexities of business ownership, embraced a “fail forward” mentality and learned from every experience. However, securing funding remains a significant hurdle for women-owned businesses, despite available resources that often prove difficult to access.

Current Project: Posh Teatime

Astra Studios’ current project is Posh Teatime, a Black, Female, Muslim-owned tearoom dedicated to providing a luxurious and inclusive experience. The owner, who overcame challenges in her own life, aims to empower disadvantaged youth through life-skills training. Astra Studios is working creatively to overcome funding hurdles and create a high-end experience on a limited budget, showcasing the power of collaboration and community support.

Amanda Dunfield’s story is an inspiration to aspiring designers and social entrepreneurs alike. Her dedication to using design as a force for good is making a positive impact on communities across Ohio and beyond. We are happy to work alongside such amazing designers and we look forward to our next project with Astra Studios!