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May 17, 2023

Out of this world: Kittery firm partners with Texas client to explore outer space

rendering of dome and people Courtesy / Tangram 3DS Seen here is an interior rendering by Tangram 3DS of a lunar terrain testbed for a recently developed partnership with San Antonio client Exploration Architecture Corp.
A tangram is a Chinese geometric puzzle used for training kids on mathematic skills. The idea for the company name was built on the observation that Tangram's clients have different needs that require different solutions.
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Tangram 3DS, a Kittery design studio and marketing agency, has partnered with space-engineering firm Exploration Architecture Corp. and its educational nonprofit to promote their projects to build spaceports and other environments inhabited in outer space.

Founded by CEO Stefan Vittori in 2003, the firm is promoting Exploration Architecture’s outer space project and nonprofit WEX Foundation (no relation to Portland-based WEX Inc.), which seeks to advance space exploration careers through NASA-funded space-STEM education programs.

Another high-tech client has been Kevin Schopfer, a Florida and Boston designer of high-end yachts and floating cities.

Tangram 3DS started as an architectural rendering studio and expanded virtual reality, 3D renderings and animations, and video production to deliver branding, website development and graphic design to its clients’ marketing packages. The firm recently launched a website to showcase its work.

We asked Vittori how he developed his innovative clientele. Here’s an edited transcript.

Mainebiz: What’s your background?

Stefan Vittori: I’m from Austria. In Vienna, I worked in different architectural offices. In the early 1990s, I got into 3D modeling and helped build new ways to do 3D modeling and animation.

person in blazer smiling
Courtesy / Tangram 3DS
Stefan Vittori

MB: When did you come to the U.S.?

SV: In 1999. My wife grew up in Boston. In the U.S., computer-aided design and 3D modeling were very new. We liked Portsmouth [N.H.] and I got a position as director of 3D graphics at an architectural firm. 

MB: What brought you to Kittery? 

SV: I started Tangram in Portsmouth in 2003. I outgrew the space — then the recession came. We were already looking for new space and my wife found this building here in Kittery — it was an old funeral home. We gutted and renovated it, and I moved my company in. We’ve been here since 2009.

MB: Where is your primary clientele located?

SV: New York, Washington, D.C., Boston. We did the complete 3D model of the city of Portsmouth. 

MB: Tell us about your space exploration client.

SV: Sam Ximenes [the founder of Exploration Architecture] is an inventor in space explorer architecture. He became a good partner of ours. He invented a system for creating spaceship landing pads on the moon. As the founder of the WEX Foundation, he trains schoolchildren to become future space explorers. 

MB: How did you connect with him?

SV: He reached out to us because his startup needed presentation materials and media to explain his ideas about how to go to the moon and build landing pads. We partnered with him to unify the branding and create his websites, renderings and videos that explain the different stages of the moon exploration process. We’re also sponsoring the WEX Foundation. 

MB: Another high-tech client designs floating cities?

SV: We were heavily involved with floating structures for people who live in catastrophic areas. My interest was always with the future-driven evolution of building and development. At the time, Hurricane Katrina had destroyed New Orleans. We did the renderings and video work for Kevin Schopfer, an architect who designed floating cities. 

MB: How many employees do you have?

SV: We have 10 employees full time in Kittery, two full time in Columbus, Ohio, where we have a branch office, and we have consultants in Poland and Armenia.

MB: Why was it important to launch a new website? 

SV: We grew to become a more upscale marketing agency and we also added more people. We added work that we hadn’t shown before. 

MB: What does Tangram mean?

SV: It’s a Chinese puzzle used for training kids on mathematic skills. It has seven pieces and it’s not easy to put the pieces together. The idea was that each of our clients has different needs that require different solutions. We help put the puzzle together with our custom solutions.

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