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Meet Your Curbed Young Guns Finalists: the Multitaskers

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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. Today: the Multitaskers.

Today's batch of multifaceted Young Guns 2014 finalists can do much more than walk and chew gum at the same time: they design spaces while also, say, managing jaw-dropping sums of capital, wielding futuristic tech tools, or making whimsical forays into material exploration. Whether inspired by their badass moms or finding the "sweet spot" of a substance, these masterminds just can't get enough.

Marc Cucco

Age: 33
Location: Los Angeles, California
What he does: Senior Project Designer at Gensler

Has your design practice changed as a result of moving cross-country to California?

"The move from the east to the west coast represented a shift in my thinking. The east coast tends to be more preoccupied with why you do things. L.A. offers more freedom to investigate my own ideas about space, light, and atmosphere, and to engage in new possibilities without having too many rules. The creative culture out here is a little more atmospheric and colorful. The landscape, in particular, is fascinating. You're away from deciduous trees, and the native species are so structured and geometric. There's no freeze-thaw cycle, so you don't really have granite bases with bricks and a 300-year legacy of permanence dating back to the Pilgrims. It's more transient and sprawling. There's an aspect of pop culture. There's a freedom encoded in the DNA of the designers who trained out here formally."

His work:


Hunter Leggitt

Age: 33
Location: Los Angeles, California
What he does: Founder, Designer, Builder, and Mad Scientist at Hunter Leggitt Studio

What's the most essential guiding principle in your studio and how does it distinguish your practice from others?

"He who designs it builds it. I think that's the best way. It's not for everyone because it's a lot of responsibility, and you have to be able to wear many hats and multitask very critical points. But it's full control. It's the ability as a designer and entrepreneur to get exactly what you want built. I only take on development projects that have a vision, want to influence the community, and make houses and structures that better the location. The local and city councils are wising up. They don't want bad design. I'm not making any sorts of alliances with clients or partners that don't have an appreciation for design. I'm on a path right now to cut out the client and be my own client. That's the next big push in my business."

His work:


Justin Rice and Kagan Taylor

Age: 30 and 33
Location: Los Angeles, California
What they do: Co-Founders, Designers, and Builders at Knowhow Shop

In your design partnership, what does each individual bring to the table, and where do your approaches intersect?

Kagan: "We're really interested in how traditional fabrication and design can be combined with digital fabrication and design. The way that we do things borrows from woodworking techniques used 300 years ago paired with tools they're using now."

Justin: "Kagan was trained in traditional woodworking, whereas I come at this fabrication thing from a more digital perspective with laser cutters and the like. Most people treat the CNC router as this intimidating tool that you have to have some computer nerd running, but we just treat it as another tool in the shop. It's like the table saw for us. Like all those other tools, you just have to learn how to use it."

Kagan: "It's also a tool that, for us, has to be combined with other tools. There's an idealized process out there that you can make a design on your computer, send it to a CNC router, and then it will be done. We're not interested in that because we already know what that looks like. If you're a woodworker who only has a table saw, everything you do is going to be square."

Justin: "We're always trying to blend to the point where you can't really tell if we've used a digital process or a manual woodworking process."

Kagan: "We don't want it to look like any one thing. We aren't historians, nor are we super digital form people. We're trying to blend those two disciplines."

Their work:


Rachel Shillander

Age: 28
Location: Los Angeles, California
What she does: Project Manager at Marmol Radziner

In which ways does your architectural design work differ from your furniture and art explorations?

"I love to make things, that's my passion. I work as an architect during the day but I do a lot of stuff of my own on the side. There's no correlation between the furniture that I make on my own and the projects I do at work. I gave myself the parameters of these two materials, foam and plaster, and I made the simplest objects that I could using those materials. My approach to design is very pragmatic. I think there's no options, there's one solution to every problem. Making things is a series of problems that you're solving through design. So if you need something to sit on - that's your problem, and if you create a chair - that's your solution. The easiest solution is usually the one I find myself drawn to. For me, the design process is finding the simplest solution to the problem."

Her work:


Andrés Toro

Age: 31
Location: Brooklyn, New York
What he does: Project Architect at STV

What inspired you to become an architect, and what motivates you to continue seeking knowledge as a successful professional?

"When I was a kid my parents built a house. My uncle, who's an architect, designed it. But my mother, a stay-at-home mom, managed the construction herself. Every day after school I would go to the construction site, and that definitely inspired me to become an architect. I admire her so much because now, as a professional in the field, I see how complex and difficult it is. She had no experience other than her intelligence. Like my mother, I want to be prepared for things that might not be my forte, like project management and real estate. I don't want people to put their fingers in my mouth because I don't know about those things. I'm an obsessive overachiever. I always thought I'm just going to try for all of it or nothing."

His work:


Jordan Trachtenberg

Age: 32
Location: Miami, Florida
What he does: Founder, Architect, and LEED AP at Trachtenberg ///

Do you consider yourself primarily an architect, a developer, or a partron of the arts, or is some combination of the above most accurate?

"Architects are typically renaissance men that can somehow produce multiple things and think on multiple levels, so if I can be called that I'd be very happy. Miami is going through something of a renaissance, and I find myself very fortunate to be here during this time to contribute to the movement. What I'm working on here transcends the concept of architecture; it's also this concept of development. I actually find that putting myself in positions where I'm a fish out of water is where I tend to thrive. If you can find people who are either like-minded, or at least interested in what you're thinking, then there's opportunity in that meeting of the minds. The way you get things done here is through people."

His work:


· All Young Guns 2014 posts [Curbed National]