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Events

Design for Social Impact
May 25–August 3, 2014
Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century.

Japanese Design Today 100
June 27–July 19, 2014
The Japan Foundation presents the World premiere of the exhibition Japanese Design Today 100, which opens at UCLA’s Department of Architecture & Urban Design at Perloff Hall. This exhibition showcases the Designscape of contemporary Japan through 100 objects of Japanese design: 89 objects created since 2010 that are well known in Japan, as well as 11 objects that represent the origin of Japanese post-war modern product design. These 100 product designs are displayed in 10 categories: Classic Japanese Design, Furniture & Housewares, Tableware & Cookware, Apparel & Accessories, Children, Stationery, Hobbies, Healthcare, Disaster Relief, and Transportation.

BAM/PFA New Building Topping Out Celebration
July 17, 2014
Construction is nearing midpoint at the downtown Berkeley site of the future home of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). Workers will soon be erecting the last of the steel beams that form the frame of this dynamic building. To celebrate this important milestone, BAM/PFA invites its Bay Area friends and neighbors to a “topping out” ceremony on Addison Street, between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show
August 8–10, 2014

The American Craft Council returns to San Francisco for its 39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show this August 8-10, 2014 at Fort Mason Center. As the largest juried fine craft show on the West Coast, the 2014 San Francisco Show is expected to draw more than 12,000 fine craft collectors and design enthusiasts.

Conversations in Place 2014
August 10, 2014
ow in its third year, Conversations in Place 2014 begins another series of illuminating explorations of “Southern California – Yesterday and Tomorrow” at the historic Rancho Los Alamitos. The 4-part series begins Sunday, August 10 and continues through Sunday, November 2. The series begins with W. Richard West, Jr, President and CEO of The Autry National Center of the American West, Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Pamela Seager, Executive Director of Rancho Los Alamitos, and Architect Stephen Farneth, FAIA, founding partner of the award-winning historic preservation firm Architectural Resources Group, in conversation about the place of museums and historic sites in shaping the story of Southern California. Can these institutions escape the straightjacket of the time to better interpret history to the 21st century?

NOW AND NEXT 2014 Symposium on Technology for Design and Construction
August 13–15, 2014
Meet thought leaders and colleagues interested in architecture, engineering, construction, open BIM Exchange, software trends and more. Learn about the innovations that are moving companies and people forward
including: where and how design and delivery is shifting; which software applications are transformative; best practices for collaborative project delivery; how to engage with the global BIM community. Connect with and hear from the best and the brightest such as Jordan Brandt, AutoDesk; Deke Smith, buildingSMART alliance; Ray Topping, Fiatech; Bill East, Prairie  Sky Consulting (formerly of the US Army Corps of Engineers).

Archtoberfest San Diego 2014
October 1–30, 2014
Archtoberfest San Diego 2014 is a collaboratively-operated initiative aimed at establishing an annual, month-long program of public events and activities pertaining to architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 2014
The primary goal of the New Urbanism Film Festival is to renew the dialogue about urban planning with a broader audience. The Festival brings in movies, short films, speakers, on the topics of architecture, public health, bicycle advocacy, urban design, public transit, inner-city gardens, to name a few. 

 

Competitions

Deadline: August 18
Fabric
Formabilio


Deadline: September 2
Hansgrohe+Axor Das Design Competition
Hansgrohe+Axor


Deadline: September 5

2014 Designer Dream Bath Competition
Duravit

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

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Tuesday
Jul302013

Designing the Future: A Conversation with Richard Ong

Among his early career highlights, a bench of his design was featured at the Furniture Society's booth at this years ICFF. Image courtesy, Richard Ong.

As part of our on-going series of interviews with young architects and designers, we're bringing you a conversation with Richard Ong. Ong received his undergraduate degree in biology at Bowdoin college and is now at MIT, completing his M.Arch. This spring, a design of his—a bench—was included, along with other student work, in the Furniture Society's booth at ICFF. Not too shabby considering it's only the second piece of furniture he has designed. We're pleased to share his thoughts on biology, architecture and design.

How did you get interested in architecture and furniture design?

From a young age, I was always  interested in design. I really enjoy figuring out how things work and relating form to function. I was definitely the kid that liked taking things apart simply to see what was inside—much to the dismay of my parents, when I could not put them quite back together again. Hopefully, now that I am little older, I am a little more proficient at fixing than breaking.

I started college thinking that I was going to major in both biology and studio art, among my two passions. I ultimately decided to focus on biology and have art as something I just did for myself, because to be frank, college was academically kicking my butt, and I needed to be completely focused if I wanted any chance of succeeding. It was not until my senior year when I just happened to take an introductory architecture course that I even considered architecture/design as a career. Honestly, I took the class just because it sounded cool and interesting. I owe a very large part of my development to my teacher, Wiebke Theodore. Her passion and excitement for the field was incredibly infectious to say the least. She showed and inspired me to believe in all the good and amazing things that architecture/design could do for people, society and our planet. The only real desire I have for a career is to know that I can contribute to something meaningful; she made me believe architecture/design could do that. I have no doubt she was the catalyst for my future in design.

As for furniture design, again I saw a class being offered that sounded cool and interesting and decided to try it. I just took it because it was something new to learn and I missed working with my hands. I remember having to convince Chris Dewart to let me into the class because I missed the registration deadline. It seems like my philosophy for life has been, “Hmm, that sounds cool and interesting, let’s see where that takes me.”

What was the first piece of furniture you ever made?

The bench that was featured at the ICFF was actually my second piece that I made, prior to that I made a chair for Chris’ class. I liked it, but it did not turn out as nice as I would have liked it to. I am planning on doing a reinterpretation of it in the style of my bench and using similar techniques.

Did you have an “ah ha” moment in terms of your career, or did it happen more gradually?

I worked really hard in college but never pulled a true all-nighter, I just could not do it. While taking that intro architecture course I found myself working a lot. One night while I was working at my studio desk, I saw the sun rising. I remember looking over and thinking, “Huh, that’s nice,” then turning back to my desk and continuing my drawing.

What sorts of things inspire you?

I love science and biology, the natural world is so inspiring. Form and function is completely related; there is nothing superfluous. Things are just elegant.

Who are you favorite designers?

For architects I would have to say Alvar Aalto. His attention to detail is just stunning. Big monumental gestures are great and all, but I love details, especially ones that are well-crafted and executed as they relate to their intended purposes. It really is the little things that matter. It is simply amazing how Aalto describes the profiles of stair railings or door knobs and their relation to someone’s hand while grasping and experiencing the moments of interaction. I also love the works of Robert Maillart. His bridges are just beyond beautiful. He has a way of scripting things so effortlessly and simply that it just leaves you in awe. I am a pretty big science geek, so I also love how he manipulates moments. I really do enjoy a well-drawn moment diagram; especially ones that are highly sophisticated but come across as, “Oh duh, of course, I could have done that, maybe”. Did I prove my nerdiness?

What do you see as trends in your field?

Hmmm, can I say what I would like to see? I would really like to see a return to craftsmanship. With labor being expensive and materials being cheap, it seems like the trend is just to add material redundancy over redundancy. I think we should invest more in skills by emphasizing smart designs that take advantage of materials and appropriate forms that meet contextual demands rationally and intelligently. Rafael Guastavino’s tile vaults are a prime example of exquisite craftsmanship that employs minimal materials but demands experience and expertise. It would be great to see a shift towards people and skills rather than profits and resource wastes.

What is your design process like? Are you a sketcher, a tinkerer, a computer guy?

I definitely learn best through doing. I like the physical feedback of working with my hands and actually building something. Most of the time I will get an idea and then just harp on it in my mind while doing everything. The best ideas seem to come in the few moments just before falling asleep. Of course the problem then is that I cannot sleep, because, once I finally figured out how to do something, I need to get up and do it. It is usually fine when I just want to run to my computer and model a few things, but it can be frustrating when I want to get to the shop and just put something together. It is probably a good thing that they lock the woodshop at night; I do not think the neighbors would appreciate the table saw going off at three in the morning. My science background has me constantly looking for mistakes and wanting to make minor changes to every possible variable, seeing the results, evaluating, learning then repeating, then repeating, then maybe repeating a few more times. I have a love/hate relationship with making mistakes, because, as much as I hate being wrong, I love learning from them.

What is your all-time favorite object?

Growing up, we lived pretty modestly. We did not have much in the way of toys and such, so I really appreciated any little thing that I could get my hands on. I loved rainy day recesses at school because that meant I could play with the Legos! Those were amazing—I actually still want them, but they are so expensive. My dad noticed how much I loved playing with these blocks, but, of course, it was a luxury that we just could not afford, which I understood. I am not quite sure how I understood at the ripe old age of six or so, but I did. My dad, being as resourceful as he is, came up with an amazing solution. He would bring home the plastic crates that supermarkets used to stack sodas and—“ta da!”—I had giant Lego(ish) blocks to play with. From that, I have learned to appreciate the potential of the things that we have. My favorite object(s) are the things that we tend to overlook but have tremendous potential if given a little love—and who does not need a little love?

What has been your professional highlight so far?

I have a professional life? I feel like I have been in school forever, probably because I have. This summer is the first time I have worked 40 hour weeks—feels a little odd but it has been a great experience. My professional highlights definitely come from the people I meet and their reaction/experience of my work. Some of my favorite moments are when I stand by one of my pieces incognito and someone starts telling me how much they enjoy it. It is always a great reaction/experience when I tell them I am the designer. As for the critics, when I hear them whispering, I tend to two-step my way towards the shadows. However, I am greatly appreciative and humbled by all of the positive feedback that I have received. Heck, I appreciate the negative ones too, but maybe just a little less. 

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