A few weeks back, we introduced you to new work from Brooks Atwood, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at NJIT and principal of POD Design. Besides focusing on product design, Atwood has collaborated on notable art installations and even has a design for a new prefab house on the boards. Today, as part of our on-going series of conversations with architects and designers on their inspiration, philosophies and favorites, we’re talking to him. As you might suspect, his take on his profession is witty, thoughtful and occasionally irreverent—just like his body of work.
What direction do you see the profession heading?
I see the profession headed into using more hybrid prefab systems of building and construction. A hybrid system allows for customization with mass produced objects/parts/components while maintaining efficiency and costs. Another trend is the-big-idea architecture is dead (or this will be a trend shortly). Speaking of hybrids, there’s a new trend to combine two of more systems to enhance building efficiencies, reducing costs and also creating totally new forms that are more sustainable and less energy dependent.
What buildings inspire you?
The Seattle Public Library, Kukje Art Center, Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Marina City, Crown Hall, Auditorium Building, Falling Water.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I find that if I surround myself with curiosities (things I’ve picked up at flea markets and while traveling, and then I curate them by juxtaposing things that shouldn’t go together like red coral next to a black rooster taxidermy) that these objects inspire a whole vast galaxy of new ideas and innovations!
What are your three favorite objects?
Who are some of your favorite young architects?
If you could live anywhere, where it would it be (a location or specific structure)?
I would live in Couvent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette. It’s a monastery designed by Le Corbusier back in the late 1950’s. I was lucky enough to stay here for about a week when I was drifting (aka dérive) around France. It’s a magical place and my favorite building of all time. I frantically ran around sketching every corner of this building during the day, and at night would have dinner with the monks. Brilliant! I was even an English translator for the tours.
A decade from now, what trends will be cringeworthy?
Fake curtain walls (aka Frank Gehry). With all the technology at our disposal, curtain walls can DO more, can THINK more and can BE more.
What currents trends will stand the test of time?
One trend that will stand the test of time is the hyper-functional and intelligent forms of OMA. Rem Koolhaas is pushing boundaries and challenging standard conventions and doing it in a way that shows that architecture can be powerful and sublime at the same time.
Color—yes or no?
What are you reading?
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. It’s about how to travel in space and all the things that NASA made up along the way into space. It’s fun, funny and terrifying at the same time.
What are you wearing?
A full beard (authentic), blue corduroys (Uniqlo), untied black high top sneakers (Zara), an old man cardigan sweater (unknown origin), a gray herringbone blazer (J. Crew Men’s store) and black leather driving gloves with red trim by Dents.
What are you eating?
Do you listen to music while you’re working?
Yes! 70 db has been scientifically proven to be the level of background noise that creates the most creative environment so we always have music on all day, everyday. Creativity is king and music is essential!
Are you a sketcher or a computer person?
Sketcher—the faster and crazier the better. I sketch everything (ideas, furniture, more ideas, random weird thoughts, product ideas, etc). I never stop sketching; you shouldn’t either!
Social media—yes or no?
Yes. I love Twitter and concise information about things and trends I care about. It’s like digital caffeine; drink it up!