After weeks spent accepting nominations and sifting through hundreds of talented designers, builders, and architects, Curbed is ready to announce the finalists of Young Guns 2014. All week long we'll be rolling out the nominees. This afternoon: the Technopioneers.
This batch of Young Guns 2014 finalists are the innovators working with technology in design, as well as those creating the innovative spaces in which the innovators innovate. Or something. Included: a soulful renderer who's one of just two V-Ray certified professionals in the entire nation and a dimensional translator who turns brand identities into stimulating workplaces.
Location: San Francisco, California
What she does: Principal Interior Designer and Director of Design at Studio O+A
What are the workplace design concerns of your latest tech clients?
"In the last five years you've seen a lot of people move toward open office and benching workstations. You're seeing a backlash now due to research on what that means for introverts, and how people can feel a bit overexposed. What we're actually starting to experiment with is instead of it all being completely transparent and all about collaboration for collaboration's sake, there's a way we can look at doing more of a translucent collaboration. You still feel part of a larger whole but you don't feel like every move is watched all day. It's less about that trading room hyper-efficient floorplan, and it's more about a meandering experience. You'll start to see a more varied landscape. I started looking at maps of Medieval cities, and behind the castle walls things are transparent, things can be found, but it's deliberately circuitous. It doesn't mean it lacks a sense of community. Workstations are starting to move toward a more crafted look. We're doing a lot less stark white laminate. We're doing solid wood surfaces, things that age well, patina, and feel like someone made them. Our clients tend to work in a digital space all day long, and so they like to see that someone out there is doing something tangible."
Location: New York, New York
What he does: Architectural and Computational Designer at continuous[i]nputs
What is computational design and how does it influence your architectural work?
"Computational design is an interest of mine that I've been pursuing on the side, looking into computer science and how you can infuse architecture with it. It gives you the ability to deal with more complex systems and work with large data sets. You could effect a building according to some value which you have recorded for a specific site over the course of a year. You would be able to directly feed and incorporate that data into your design. As a tool it's helpful and most interesting when the outcomes actually give you many viable options. With computation you can define your initial parameters and in the end have multiple outcomes, which you can then test according to the specific criteria that you've set for the project, and then see which of the solutions works best."
How does an interest in technology incorporate your passion for material analysis and innovation?
"I'm interested in fabrication and how to use technology for deeper investigations into materials themselves; specifically, the roles they play in translating drawings to buildings. We engage in deep investigations into these details and focus on integrating materials in new ways. In one of my projects we're incorporating a material never used in North America before. A partner company is taking invasive species trees out of the Florida Everglades and chipping them up, then mineralizing the wood chips, and we're casting those chips into concrete wall sections. So we're actually constructing a house addition out of tiles made from this new material that we've thoroughly researched and investigated. It's basically a wood-based concrete, which makes it much more insulating. It sequesters the carbon by locking it into the wood chips so it doesn't come out. It's 70 percent lighter than standard concrete, and also takes a harmful organism out of the environment. I think of materials themselves as technologies."
Location: New York, New York
What he does: 3D Rendering Specialist at Stephens Design Group
How does the process of creating 3D illustrations enhance the actual design of a project?
Clients are very visual. Floorplans only go so far. By putting renderings right in front of people, they usually know within seconds whether or not they like where a design is heading. I went to school for interior design, and as a renderer with a design background, I'm able to provide input as I'm building 3D models. In real time, I can offer quick and efficient ways to roll out multiple design schemes that are far quicker to do than in traditional CAD. As I'm building a model, I can immediately show a designer that a layout doesn't make sense, and show them why. Or I can immediately determine that we need to raise the height of a ceiling, or that we need to change the finishes. When I'm involved in a project I feel it's important to be on board right from the beginning, so we can always have someone looking at the model and providing input about the design. The architecture will sell itself in a way, but what sets a rendering apart is the environment into which you place the architecture. It's the cracks in the sidewalk, it's the wear and tear on the facade, it's the variation of the color within the curtains and within the foliage. The level of detail that you put in makes a scene look much more realistic. You have the opportunity to make a very dramatic, very emotional sort of connection. That's the most exciting part about it."
Location: San Francisco, California
What she does: Co-Founder, CEO, and Principal Designer at Design Blitz
What gives the workplaces you design a more personal expression of character than that of ordinary corporate environments?
"We work with folks who are extending the 2D representation of their brands into 3D. That's where the magic is, where you're creating the vibe of a space and interpreting the essence of a brand. A brand isn't just about a logo or corporate identity package, it's really about how people interpret who you are and how they feel about you. So if we can find a way to pull that out of 2D into 3D, that's where space becomes really transformational. Making beautiful space is cool, of course, but if it's not making you feel something, then it's not really on point. Our process is heavily rooted in research. We spend a lot of time up front understanding things like if the firm were a person, who that person would be. By the time we're making design decisions, it's like we're an embedded member of their team who happens to know architecture, so we can really make the decisions the client would make if the client knew how to do what we do. The beautiful thing about this sector of the world and this client type is that they're always coming up with something absolutely wacky and challenging us to make it reality, and that is super fun!"
· All Young Guns 2014 posts [Curbed National]