Monday, September 9, 2013

10square v.6

10square - September 6, 2013 (photo courtesy of Dan Abrahamson, Assoc. AIA and DesignSpring)
Downtown Eugene was absolutely hopping this past Friday night: The sidewalks were brimming with people following September’s First Friday Artwalk, and bustling with an upbeat vibe validating the patience and efforts of those who recently invested so much faith and money in our urban core. I’m more confident than ever that a tipping point has been reached and an economically vibrant and diverse downtown has finally emerged after decades of disinvestment and neglect. 

It was against this lively backdrop that DesignSpring hosted its sixth 10square, this time in the foyer of the new home for the Oregon Contemporary Theater at 194 W. Broadway. A large audience was on hand to see wide-ranging presentations from an exceptional group of creative, talented thinkers and doers. Each inspired, informed, impressed, and amused using the now-familiar fast-paced, breezy 10 designers x 10 slides format characteristic of every 10square event. The following is a brief synopsis of the individual presentations: 

Joe Valasek

Originally trained as a traditional wood carver & sculptor, Joe Valasek now enthusiastically embraces the potential and precision of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) routing in creating his bas-relief carvings. CNC routing allows Joe to focus upon his art rather than the physical challenges posed by his chosen medium. He produces intricate, precise designs (often inspired by nature motifs) that are otherwise impossible to craft by hand. Fascinated by pattern and texture, Joe’s decorative fine art panels and artwork can be found in luxurious custom homes as well as commercial settings. 

For more about Joe’s work, check out his company’s website at

Yuliya Dimitrova-Ilieva
Yuliya is a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate attending the University of Oregon. For 10square she showcased her thesis project, a monument to courage, memory and life, honoring those lost to the Holocaust in her native Bulgaria. Using the cherga—traditional Bulgarian textiles made from a great number of brightly colored, interwoven threads— as a metaphor, Yuliya sited the monument in a historically Jewish neighborhood in Sofia. Richly layered and accented by useful objects (such as a bench in the form of an open book), her project’s intent is to create an open dialog about a tragic past. 

Michael Bowles, Assoc. AIA

By day, Michael Bowles is an unassuming intern who works with Willamette Architecture 360. By night, though, he is a dynamic lighting designer and events production manager who creates custom, interactive LED and laser light effects. His designs transform light into kinetic sculptures, integral to the vibrant performances of which they are a part. 

Mark Lavin

Mark is dedicated to the tenets of permaculture, particularly its core beliefs in the power of regenerative systems and nature’s resilience. He believes there is much we can learn from nature and that the only limit to a system is the extent of a designer’s imagination. 

Vertecology is a portmanteau (VERTEgreentruevertex, hubvertical + ECOLOGY) coined by Mark as his name for the design and invention studio he operates. The Vertecology Hanging Garden is Mark’s brilliantly simple solution for those who long for an organic farm but are short of space. Made entirely of knotted rope, rigid platforms and simple hardware, the Hanging Garden is a vertical column of nature, utilizing stable geodesic forms that hold rigid as a system. It can hang from any 3 connection points able to take its weight, and provides 1.3 square feet of planting, growing, soil-building, air-freshening space per level.

Sarah Bush

A transplant from Vermont, Sarah now feels perfectly at home here in Oregon. She’s found a receptive and fertile environment in which to further develop her art. For 10square, Sarah presented her ongoing work on a collection of sheet metal sculptures collectively entitled We’re Not Made of Metal. The pieces explore and express her concern with the trend toward mechanized dehumanization and how it negates the importance and value of the individual. She developed her ideas during a time when she was losing herself in a push toward mechanization and achievement, forgetting what is important and special about simply being human. 

We’re Not Made of Metal is currently on exhibit at the Oakshire Public House at 207 Madison Street in Eugene. 

Jeffrey Luers
Jeffrey’s interests “bridge the gap.” Notoriously associated with environmental activism, he now directs his energy and passion toward the pursuit of a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon. 

Jeffrey views cities as integral parts of the natural landscape: his Block 112 project posits knitting Portland’s north and south park blocks together at a critical nexus of the downtown grid. Likewise, he has imagined transforming Springfield’s Booth-Kelly mill site, examining its potential for redevelopment and identifying how the site can become a destination location with a pedestrian-friendly appeal. 

Alex Daniell

I previously blogged about Alex’s invaluable contributions toward the success of Eugene’s Opportunity Village, a transitional village for homeless individuals and couples located at 111 Garfield in west Eugene. Alex described his designs for a series of compact, simple, safe, secure, and transportable dwelling structures, clustered together to encourage community cohesion and security. The dwellings, none larger than about 100 square feet, provide basic shelter only. Kitchen and food storage, a dining area, bathrooms, bike parking, and personal storage lockers are communal. Thanks to considerable contributions from various supporters, the homes average a mere $850 in material costs plus another $850 for labor. 

Richard McConochie, Assoc. AIA

Richard McConochie has answered a unique calling: he’s become a professional pumpkin carver. His work runs the gamut from portraiture to landscapes, business logos to abstract designs. Many of his projects take upwards of six hours, are created using customized hand tools, and often feature kaleidoscopic projection. 

The Zen of pumpkin carving offers lessons to those who follow its ways. Richard enumerated them for the 10square audience: 
  • Temper your patience 
  • Know your tools 
  • Embrace innovation 
  • Reach deeper to shine brighter 
  • Celebrate the 4th dimension 
  • Learn to let go (what you create lasts but a short time) 
  • Face your fears 
  • Teach your students to surpass you 
  • Do what you love
There is beauty in the evanescent existence of Richard’s chosen medium of expression. 

Alex Froehlich

Insurgent design is an ethos that fuels Alex Froelich’s work. He is committed to social, economic and ecological responsibility in design. He actively explores holistic and collaborative design processes, both conceptually in his current thesis work, and in practice with designBridge, the student-run community design-build organization at the University of Oregon. Alex firmly believes in the power of design to change entrenched paradigms, and likens design to an autoimmune response to urban ills.

Alex managed a group of between 5-20 people over six months in the construction of a large structure for a local cooperative of Latino farmers. The 20’ x 40’ building now shelters a tractor, walk-in fridge, and vending area, and was constructed with a modest budget of only $5000. 

Jim Givens, Assoc. AIA

I’ve known Jim since back in the 1980s when we were both B.Arch candidates at the University of Oregon. He’s an incredibly thoughtful and talented designer, whose work I greatly admire. He shared the importance of focusing upon elevating the ordinary moments—looking out a window, mounting steps, and so forth—to ones of transcendence in our lives. Repeated as they are over a lifetime, from the first to the last act, the physical settings in which these moments occur become emblems of our being in the world. Jim’s designs celebrate the act of simply living well in the best humanist tradition. 

Andika Murandi, AIA

Andika is preternaturally talented at sketching and hand-drawing, skills that too many young architects today fail to possess. His sketches appear effortless; they’re immediately accessible, and evocative. Each of Andika’s ten slides was a window into his mind’s eye, a rich pathway to his view of the world. I wish I had an ounce of his flair and aptitude with pen and ink. Very impressive.  

*    *    *    *    *    *
If you kept count, you’ll have noticed that 10square v.6 actually featured eleven speakers rather than an even ten as the event’s name would suggest. I can’t imagine anyone objected to the bonus presentation; if anything, this year’s 10square only whetted our appetites for more. 

Kudos to DesignSpring for another stellar 10square production. DesignSpring’s youthful initiative, energy, and vision have provided the local design community with a shot in the arm. The organization contributes greatly to the health and vigor of our local culture of creativity. 10square is a part of that culture, one that is becoming a welcome tradition. I enthusiastically look forward to next year’s edition.

No comments: