Pine & Clay – empowering foreign artisans in the American design market

chaka_mplichta-3

I like well-designed products,

hand-crafted art,

and, very much, a good story.

West Elm has become a visionary in the furniture & home decor retail sphere with their business model that brings us stories of beautiful products from far away lands and people, while empowering those very people to have a measurably improved quality of life. Continue reading

Starchitects, Toilets, and Empowerment

Do you have a job?  Are you educated?  Are you able to use bathroom facilities without the fear of the spread of communicable disease?

Not everyone is so fortunate.  Luckily, we all know this, and luckily, the building industry is catching on to the value of social equity and empowerment.

We see certain companies such as TOMS (started by Blake Mycoskie) with sustainable business models.  More about that can be found in SUCCESS magazine.

And now, while globalization, TED talks, activitsts, humanitarians, and the news show us all of the tragedy and poverty that our country works so hard to avoid ourselves, a few companies within the building industry are seeking this fresh approach of giving back to those in need internationally. Continue reading

Youngstown – S [M] L XL – Urban Decay

Youngstown is located in the Rust Belt.  There is an effort by a few to bring vibrancy to the community, some more effort by those seeking to help the hurting here and now.  Much more research can be done on my part to learn what can be done to make it once again a thriving community –  the expectations and identity need to change, then more public space, influence, and advocacy.

Here is a taste of the disrepair we have fallen victim to, commonly known as urban blight or urban decay.

ytown m_fostering presence-16ytown m_fostering presence-16-2ytown m_fostering presence-15 Continue reading

So you’re graduating from architecture school…

There's a story here...

There’s a story here…

Many young people do not have a meaning and purpose to their life. They’re looking to say, does my life matter? Do I have a unique contribution to make… when you recognize that you have a real mission, an indispensable contribution to make, then you embrace life, you celebrate life in a completely different way. – Anna Halpine, The Human Experience

I was right in the middle of my thesis while obtaining my Master of Architecture degree, at the interstice of theoretical research, experimentation, and real (” “) design.

It was wintertime last year that I dedicated a good Saturday afternoon to post-graduate endeavors.

A few things I knew were certain:

  1. I was about to have substantial debt to deal with.
  2. I needed the direction and expertise of an established firm before considering supporting myself financially through my own endeavors.
  3. I couldn’t shake the inevitable wanderlust that was ever present since my first taste of independence in undergrad.

To be reasonable, I knew becoming a vagabond architect was only accomplished by a few, and I question whether these individuals had student loans.  I decided my best plan at this point, seeing a full-time architecture job in my (hopefully) close future, aka becoming a responsible adult, and I wanted to intervene, as a sort of ‘bachelorette party’ before the commitment came.

There has been this constant struggle between seeking professional development and investing in my future through travel and adventure.  Whether it is while I am the project manager at an influential firm, or while I am old and feeble waiting for my grandkids to visit, I will always be able to remember the stunning moonlight in Alghero, the rolling hills of Ireland, joining the free-spirits traipsing the American Southwest, and drinking butter tea with Buddhist monks.  My understanding of spatial complexities, histories, and order, as well as what to make of our current state and direction of development, are reflective of theories and studies in class as well as tunneling through Old Delhi, driving in Tijuana, Mexico, and venturing around Basel, Switzerland with the help of a nice, elderly Chinese woman.

Continue reading