There is something uniquely American about the beach and backyard culture created here. One look at a striped beach ball or a vinyl pool lounger brings back a flood of memories—lazy days spent at the beach or lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool or cooking up a barbeque as the sun set. For Cannonball, in San Diego at historic Belmont Park, architect Nathan Lee Colkitt, of Colkitt & Co., wanted to translate those memories into a lively new rooftop restaurant.
Entries in Colkitt&Co. (3)
A couple of weeks back, we introduced you to architect Nathan Lee Colkitt and his work on the PUMA store in New York's SoHo district. Besides his work for PUMA, Colkitt, who founded his own practice in 2006, has made a name for himself designng retail, restaurant and residential projects. He's back here at formmag.net—this time with answers to some of our burning questions. And he's got one for you: Where do you go for barbecue?
What direction do you see the profession heading?
I try not to think about design or architecture as a profession. The term “profession” seems too dogmatic for how fast society, information and the economy are rapidly changing today. Professions are a dated paradigm from the 20th century. The question is: who are the individuals and groups creating and shaping the foundation of this century? Never before has information and communication been so powerful and ubiquitous, and yet simultaneously so meaningless. We see a world based on a paradigm of mass localization. A concept of local contextualization not based on geography, but by social networks and relationships. Overall, I see innovation that impacts lives as the core of our business model and the direction of the future.
What buildings inspire you?
The Seattle Public Library, Kimbell Art Museum, and the Cartier Foundation in Paris are great examples of buildings that are socially and contextually relevant. Personally, I think these buildings function on so many levels that it makes me want to cry with joy! How can these places shine and be deferential, all in one fell swoop? To me this is the highest calling; to be a distinguished icon with grace and deference to what is all around.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I used to look outward at philosophy, critical theor, and theoretical science for inspiration. Now I look inward, even to the most mundane, pedestrian and primal entities and callings in life. I like to ask, “How even did you come into being?” or “What manifested you?” as the answer often lies within these items.
What are your three favorite objects?
The chair, the chair and the chair. The moment between reclination and supplication. Designers will never stop trying to put their signature on this moment.
What do you collect (furniture, records, t-shirts, etc.)?
I stopped collecting so that I can better live in the ever-present. Now, I’m completely schizophrenic and don’t have to worry about being sentimental. I used to collect chairs and vinyl. I had an audiophile with Eames coming out my ears but, it’s debilitating for a designer to collect things. You can never be truly present if you’re a collector. It’s not possible to be a collector and designer in the same body, unless you have a split personality.
Who are some of your favorite young architects?
If you could live anywhere, where it would it be (a location or specific structure)?
To follow in the footsteps of Brendon Grimshaw.
A decade from now, what trends will be cringeworthy?
That’s easy . . . reclaimed wood.
What currents trends will stand the test of time?
Isn’t that an oxymoron? Like military intelligence? We think sustainability is not a trend in the sense that energy has always ruled our lives. As we go through an energy transition, how we consume as a culture has an effect on design. This awareness cannot be forgotten.
10. Color—yes or no?
No question; color is our lifeblood. Without color I would not have a pulse.
11. What are you reading?
Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation. I also enjoy to travel and love picking up local periodicals to see where real people eat, drink and play.
12. What are you wearing?
Common Projects. The best thing since sliced bread.
13. What are you eating?
I love beef rib BBQ. Do you know any good spots in your neighborhood?
14. Do you listen to music while you're working?
I stopped listening to music. I find it distracting while working.
15. Are you a sketcher or a computer person?
Sketching is so much more fun and kinetic. It’s hard to imagine the ballet without a pen in hand.
16. Social media—yes or no?
Yes, but it is addicting, is it not?
Architect Nathan Lee Colkitt’s relationship with PUMA goes back nearly a decade. “I moved to LA in 2004, working for Stephen Kanner, the architect who came up with the initial design for the first PUMA stores in world,” he recalls. Hired initially to work on high-rise projects, economic realities put those on hold. “I got moved into the retail department and assigned to the PUMA account. I had never seen that side of things. It was fast paced—the closest thing to instant gratification you can get in architecture.” Colkitt became the department head in short order and traveled around the world as the brand expanded. He ultimately struck out on his own, establishing Colkitt & Co, but kept in touch with PUMA.