Faculty Maker - Bryan Cantley

Meet maker/professor Bryan Cantley, a professor of Design Theory at CSUF, School of the Arts, and founder of Form:uLA, an experimental design practice that explores the boundaries of architecture and representation and the role of drawing within the discourse of visionary space.

Describe your research.

The pursuit of experimental representation in architecture; examining modes of communication and the poetics of the machine/technology. Liminal space construction and its residues. I am interested in architecture as a discipline in addition to its implications of built environments.

Describe a project you’ve been working on this year.

“Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships,” a series of experimental drawings exploring the sanctity of organized religion (in the face of social media and the re-definition of “self”), and the finite architectural drawing/print. What is sacred/real in the age of representation and false identity?

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

What is the idea behind your featured project?

Over the last new years I’ve noticed, while observing my 19 year old daughter and her friends, an emergence of new Human Interface Patterns as social media expands into the every day. As our urge to be “connected” increases, and our willingness to accept what we see as “truth,” there has been a desensitization of society through that saturation of media on-demand.

With that in mind, I started to question the role of the meaning of a “higher power” for today’s young people raised in the social media age. Simultaneously, because of the work I do with architecture drawing, I began to question the sanctity of the architectural drawing in a time where distortable media is so prevalent.

What did you use to create this?

My hands. It was mostly an analog process. I used hand drawing and collaged them on top of existing (precious) architectural prints of cathedrals. I also used Photoshop as part of the design process, but  not as part of the production). To create the 3D version, I used Z-Brush + Sketchup, for output to 3D powder printing, and augmented with analog/hand crafted components.

Drafting the Palimpsest – Bryan Cantley

How did you decide which tools to use?

Since I was examining the purity and deity of the architectural drawing/print, the analog process of drawing was critical to the core of the project. The digitally produced image is too ‘clean’… there needed to be a way to explore the tactility missing in social media’s avatars.

Ozonic Bladder Anomaly (Photo by Matt Gush)

Ozonic Bladder Anomaly (Photos by Matt Gush)

Share a resource that helped you in this project.

Sketchbooks, web articles on religion, social media, and the role of drawing in contemporary architectural practice… several youtube videos on z-brush and importing overly-thigh data (what is overly-thigh data?) into SketchUp.

Where do you typically display your work online?

Twitter @uLAForm

In my crowded studio. I need to have a garage sale!

What do you love about teaching architecture?

When I teach at other universities, the constant challenge of ideologies… as well as the raw hunger of students. It’s truly intoxicating.

Bryan Cantley teaching (Photo by Matt Gush)

What advice would you give students who are studying architecture?

Become a sponge! Take in media, politics, the humanity that surrounds you. Think about architecture as a discipline of spatial and social inquiry, not just about ‘making a building.’ Become an inventor. Commit to your work, and research in general. Believe in what you do, but always allow outside conversations to shape your work. This is an incredibly long journey. Where you are now, will likely not be where you are 5, 10, 20 years from now.  

Thom Mayne once told me (I’m paraphrasing) that you really have to invest 20+ years into your work to begin to understand and feel comfortable with your work. This is an absolute truth.

Form:uLA is an experimental design practice led by Bryan Cantley, whose work attempts to blur the undefined zone between architecture and its representation. Cantley has lectured at a number of architecture schools internationally and locally, as well as the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. He served as visiting faculty at SCI-Arc and Woodbury and conducted a graduate architectural drawing seminar at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London, where he also installed a solo exhibition in 2008. His models and drawings are part of the permanent collection of the SFMOMA and he was a recipient of a Graham Foundation Grant in 2002. Cantley has shown work in a number of institutions, including SFMOMA and UCLA, and was featured in Architectural Design’s special issues, “Drawing Strength From Machinery” in 2008 and “Drawing Architecture” in 2013. His first monograph, Mechudzu was published in 2011.

Bryan Cantley (Photo by Matt Gush)


Our maker this month is Farjiha Wajid, a graduate of IIT’s College of Architecture, who is applying her skills to textile and paper product design. Fariha’s creations are inspired by historical works of architecture, geometric light, and forms found in nature.

Fariha at her pop-up shop hosted in the Chicago Boombox by Latent Design

Could you share INKMADE’s story?

INKMADE is a design company that celebrates the simple nature of putting ink to paper and fabric, to create timeless handmade products that make life a little bit more meaningful. I started INKMADE in 2015 after I hand block printed a scarf for a product design class in architecture school. The pattern was inspired by historical Ottoman architecture. I shared it on social media and my friends and family started asking if I had plans to sell it. I didn’t have the space to produce large orders, so I searched for a fair-trade manufacturer and found a block printer in Jaipur, India who has produced all of the scarves for INKMADE so far! At the same time, I was making block print stationery in my home studio as a personal project. I sold the the scarves and paper goods through my website and also opened up a week long pop-up shop last spring, which turned out to be an amazing experience and a huge success.

INKMADE eventually transformed into the product of my experimentations and studies of the printing process, creating patterns, and sharing my love for handmade, ethically produced textiles and paper goods. Since my professional background is in architecture, my designs were initially inspired by historical works of architecture from all around the world. But I try not to limit myself. The simple strokes of a brush, the light seeping through a window, the formations found in nature—I’m inspired by it all. Each INKMADE product is a result of my experiences of traveling, reading, playing, and experimenting. From block prints, to silk screen prints, to watercolor works, and everything in between—INKMADE is a journal of products inspired by the simple beauties I take in every day.

Architectural lighting inspiration

What inspired you to create this product?

The product design class I took in school required each student to use a batch of reclaimed white oak wood to create an interesting product. I knew that I wanted to use woodblock printing somehow. Usually woodblocks are carved by hand, but I decided to use a laser cutter since it would allow me to cut a very intricate pattern faster. But I wasn’t sure it would still create the same effect of traditional block prints. I immediately thought of printing on a scarf, because it’s a universal product. People all around the world, both men and women, wear scarves around their neck, on their heads, or in some other unique way. I personally wear one every day. From there, I printed on paper, because I first learned how to block print on paper before experimenting with fabrics. I realized through that process that I enjoyed adding more meaning to these simple everyday products by using a beautiful printing method that has been around for many years and with patterns that have interesting stories behind them.

Tell us about your process of making.

For the block printed scarves, the design is transferred onto a piece of wood, which is hand carved by one of our master carvers. The block is dipped into the dye and then stamped onto the fabric. Some of the scarves are printed using the dabu printing method, where the block is dipped first into a mud paste and then stamped onto the scarf. Once the paste is dried, the scarf is soaked in the dye and the mud paste is then washed off, allowing the color to come through in the areas not covered by the paste. The scarves are then dried outdoors in the hot sun, washed, shipped to Chicago, hand packed, and sent to the recipient.

For the block printed paper goods, I transfer the design onto a linoleum block and carve the design by hand. I roll the ink on the block and stamp it onto the paper. Both the scarves and paper goods never come out perfectly. They have slight imperfections, which make each product truly unique. The new line of textiles and paper goods will be printed with a variety of methods other than the ones I’ve mentioned. Check for updates on the INKMADE Instagram!

Pattern making process by INKMADE

Head of the block printing team, Vijendra Chhipa

How did you decide which tools to use?

I took a printmaking class when I was in high school, where I learned about the tools and processes for creating block prints. For INKMADE, I used what I learned during that class to figure out which tools I needed for carving my blocks and then I slowly researched and started experimenting with other cutting knives and printing tools. I’m always watching tutorials online and trying out papers, knives, and inks that I’ve never used before. I love finding new ways of creating my products.

Share a resource that helped you in this project.

There are so many classes, professors, and mentors that have been amazing resources for me thus far. But a resource that anyone can access is just watching tutorials and taking classes online. I love taking classes on Skillshare. The classes range from starting your own creative business to photographing products and managing your finances. There’s so much that goes into starting a creative business, so I really value these resources for guidance. I also love listening to podcasts. They’re a good source of motivation for me. A podcast that I recently discovered is called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” and I love listening to it on my drives to the art supply store or running other errands. It’s important to stay motivated and the stories shared on this podcast are so inspiring!

Where do you typically display your work online?

Tell us about your school’s architecture program.

The College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology has a five year professional bachelors degree program. Each year, the studios build up to the final year, which is focused on the metropolis. First-year studio begins with teaching students about the elements of design; second year focuses on the urban dwelling; third year introduces complex building programs, such as multiple and hybrid buildings; fourth year focuses on comprehensive building design; and fifth year brings all of the studios together to study urban design. There are a variety of elective courses that support the studios and allow students to learn more about fabrication, architectural history, product design, landscape design, and so much more.

What do you do now that you’ve graduated? 

After working at an architecture firm for some time during school and also after graduation, I decided to work full-time on INKMADE.

What advice do you have for a student interested in studying architecture?

I studied architecture because it encompasses a variety of design skills that I wanted to pursue. I had the initial goal of becoming a licensed architect and didn’t consider all of the other fields that I could pursue with the same degree.

Never limit yourself. If you want to become an architect, great! If that goal changes during your time in school, don’t suppress that intuition. Follow it. Take classes that feed your other interests and see where it takes you. Architecture school can get stressful, but the amount of opportunities you will find to gain a variety of skills is endless and exciting! Take advantage of it all.

How does your architecture background diversify you among other makers of similar products?

Many times people tell me that INKMADE has nothing to do with my degree, but I think my education in architecture set a fantastic foundation to start a creative business. My background in architecture gave me the skills to understand space, graphic design, photography, research, drawing, and the ability to view the world in a unique way. I learned about balance, symmetry, and proportion in architecture school, which allows me to create products that maintain the same values. I still follow a design process that is very similar to the one I followed in architecture school. Architecture school teaches you how to think, see, and create in an efficient, wholistic manner that is difficult to grasp without the formal education.

Founder of INKMADE, Fariha Wajid and her husband

Check out IIT’s program on StudyArchitecture!

Visit INKMADE online!

The Maker's Guide to Holiday Gifting!

(via StudyArchitecture)

2016 StudyArchitecture/IMT Holiday Gift Guide

Are you making a list, checking it twice? Looking for a gift for an architecture student? Look no further! StudyArchitecture has compiled a Holiday Gift Guide with 10 amazing gifts that are designed by architecture students or architects!

1. Ergonomic Craft Knife by ErgoKiwi

Start the semester off right with an ergonomic knife made by Boston Architectural College (BAC) graduate, Sean Riley! Save your fingers for eating yummy holiday treats. Read about the process of making the ErgoKiwi on #imadethat’s blog!

ErgoKiwi – Plastic $ / Plywood $$

ErgoKiwi Knife

ErgoKiwi Knife

2. Leather Goods by NoNameLeathers

You really can’t go wrong with a new NoNameLeather belt or bag. Ladies, Parsons Graduate Student Nick Tafel has made the perfect LBB (little black bag) just for you called the Jackie-O. And who doesn’t want to be like Jackie-O, amirite? Want to know how Nick makes the Stealth Roosevelt Wallet? Read about it on IMADETHAT!

NoNameLeathers – Belts $$ / Bags $$$ / Accessories $


The Jackie-O

3. Floral Workshop or Arrangement by Anthemum

Founded by architecture graduate Bianca Tafares, Anthemum provides floral styling & design for any occasion. They’ve done weddings, events, single arrangements, installations, and more! Anthemum is located in the Austin/San Antonio area, so if you are in that area, make sure to contact her for more info on her work! Read about how Bianca got her start! Bianca studied architecture at the University of Texas at San Antonio!

Anthemum Prospect Floral Styling

4. Laser cut Jewelry by Etch

Dust off the sawdust from your glasses and feast your eyes on these beautiful designs from hair clips to necklaces to home goods, Etch has what your architecture friends want for Christmas! ETCH is the brainchild of designers Mallory Estopinal and Zoe Ganch who formed their creative union while pursuing an architecture degree. Mallory, a New Orleans native with a keen eye for all things graphically compelling, and Zoe Ganch, a French-American design nut with a triangle obsession, partnered up for a group design project and the rest is history. Together, they combined their geeky love for product design, digital fabrication, and bold geometry to create products for the modern go-getter who craves originality in fashion and the home. They both studied architecture at LSU.

Follow them on Instagram and Pinterest! Pin Pin Pin, pin pin pin, pin pin pin their pins. (to the tune of Jingle bells.)


5. Golden Rings by Jenny Wu

Need some 3D printed BLING for your holiday parties? Check out the LACE collection by architect Jenny Wu’s rings. The MOBIUS gold has us crushing hard. These metal rings are sure to make you swoon. LACE is a line of 3D printed wearable designs by Jenny Wu, a partner in the architecture office, Oyler Wu Collaborative. Jenny Wu received a B.A. from Columbia University and M.Arch from Harvard Graduate School of Design or where she is currently teaching at Columbia.


6. Box of Macarons by MadMacsDallas

Hungry in Dallas? Want to taste some delicious hand-crafted southwestern inspired French delicacies made by an architect and an engineer? Look no further than MadMacsDallas. We suggest the Chile con Limon Macaron or PB&J. Founder Ana Paredes studied architecture at Arizona State University.

MadMacsDallas – Box ranging from $12-24

Check out IMADETHAT’s feature on MadMacsDallas and learn how to make a Macaron!


7. Custom Surfboard by Wax/Surf Co.

Escape the icy chill and find yourself on a beach in LA, basking in the sun. What’s missing? A custom surfboard from Wax/Surf Co. designed by partners Tyler Jorgenson and his partner Michael Farley, graduates of the University of Arizona at Wax/Surf Co., would be the perfect gift for the water lover on your list.

Now in stores near you… if you are in Venice, CA, of course.

Lone Wolfs  –  2545 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Deus Ex Machina – 1001 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Read more about their work here!

Tyler Jorgensen crafting a custom surfboard

Tyler Jorgensen crafting a custom surfboard


8. A:LOG Notebook by A:LOG

You know how architecture students are about their notebooks. Here is the ULTIMATE resource for them! It is a hybrid between the Architecture Studio Companion and a very well-crafted notebook. This idea was generated by the great minds of three graduate architecture students at Columbia University, Paul, Rich and Ebbe.


9. Archigrams by Michie Cao

In a quest to make iconic modern buildings more accessible (and portable) to those who do not benefit from a history of architecture survey course or seeing them in real life, Michie Cao took it upon herself to illustrate and explain the importance of some of the most well-known modern architectural buildings and their architects. She calls the project: Archigrams. The idea came to her during her time as an architecture student at University of California, Los Angeles while studying for her architecture history exams. We got to chat with Michie recently about her design process, from inspiration to prototyping and, finally, to her highly successful Kickstarter campaign. (Psst, she’s also the designer behind our IMadeThat logotype.)


Michie Cao’s Archigrams

10. Camera gear

Architects are storytellers. Through the shaping of an idea into reality through materials and craft, architects tell stories of culture, place, time and people. The tools to help architects tell stories exists even within our pockets. After chatting with Ian Harris about the power of video as storyteller, we started #crushin on those pieces of gear that can help us tell that story. He recommends a 4/3rd sensor mirrorless camera and a solid zoom from very wide, around 20/25mm, to 85/100mm. Read more about the process of telling the story of architecture through film in his feature on StudyArchitecture’s blog called “Architecture Filmmaking and Storytelling with Ian Harris.”

Here is a list of gear that he recommends.


Ian Harris of Arbuckle Industries


Happy Holidays everyone! Make sure to check back next year for more stories about architecture students and faculty! And always, follow @imadethat_ and @studyarchitecture on Instagram and Twitter.

THE MAKERS: Bianca Tafares's floral studio, Anthemum

Spring has sprung and flowers are blooming all around us. Today, we are featuring Bianca Tafares’s boutique floral studio, Anthemum. Bianca is a graduate of the University of Texas, San Antonio where she studied Construction Science and Management in their College of Architecture. When she’s not studying plans and preparing cost estimates at the construction firm in Austin, she’s using her design skills to craft floral works of art in her floral studio or foraging for installations with her partner-in-creativity, Shane.

Prospect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0036

Tell us the origin story of Anthemum. What prompted you to start a floral studio?

Anthemum was created to fulfill a void I starting feeling a few years back. I’ve always found myself trying to balance my need for both order and spontaneity. Looking back, I thought it was just an inability to make decisions, but I know now that I really need both to thrive. I have been in the commercial construction industry for 4+ years now, so my need for order has been completely fulfilled. But I felt that it was time to find something that filled my creative heart too. I tried cooking, baking, soap-making, knitting, hand lettering, and almost anything else where I could make something! And it all just clicked when I took my first floral workshop. It was the most fulfilling project I had worked on in a very long time. Every day since then, I would have a moment that made me realize—I’ve pretty much been obsessed with flowers my whole life! So naturally, my spontaneous side told me: “hey let’s just do this already, start a business where you can create beautiful floral pieces whenever you want!!” Enter: Anthemum.

Is there a story behind the name “Anthemum”?

Yes! It includes one of my favorite childhood storybooks: Chrysanthemum. It’s a lovely mother-daughter children’s book by Kevin Henkes that I just adore! And my daughter’s birth flower happens to be a Chrysanthemum. I then learned that in greek chrysanthemum, or khrusanthemon, is derived from khrusos: gold + anthemon: flower. That’s when I fell in love with Anthemum for it’s simple meaning: “of the flower.”


Photograph by Angie L. Rushing

How does your architecture background inform your designs?

Aside from the typical pieces you would expect in a wedding, like bouquets, boutonnieres, and center pieces… We LOVE designing and creating original installations! This is when my architecture/construction background really plugs into my flower world. My husband Shane and I have so much fun brainstorming, designing, and making pieces that celebrate the lush blooms and greenery by creating depth, scale, and experience. Shane has a similar background, we met while studying architecture in San Antonio. Aside from being my design partner in these larger projects, he is my main inspiration. He’s an incredible designer with the most positive attitude, and is always encouraging me to pursue even my most outrageous dreams.


Bianca and Shane Tafares

Tell us about your process.

Once I’ve decided on the general color palette and have ordered the main blooms for the project, I take a nice walk around my neighborhood for inspiration. I keep the types of blooms and colors in mind while I’m looking for textures and other complementary colors that I can forage once I’m ready to start the project. Once I have gathered everything, I always start with a prep process that ensures maximum life and health for the stems. Then I can start to create beautiful floral pieces inspired by my mood, the chosen color palette, and the season represented by the locally foraged elements.

Share with us your favorite project thus far.

Recently, I was commissioned to style in a Max Levy building called The Prospect House. It is one of my favorite venues in the area. Here are some behind the scenes shots of the collaboration between Chandra’s Collection Photography and Frankie & Lenee Weddings.

View More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootProspect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0031Prospect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0017View More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootProspect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0085View More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootView More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shootProspect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0158View More: httpchandrascollection.pass.us/prospect-house-styled-shoot

How did you decide which tools to use?

The basic tools are floral tape, containers that can handle water (I say this because I love ceramics and various odd containers, but have found that some containers like to drink the water themselves!), floral wire, and a variety of cutting tools. It’s important that each cutting tool be used for its intended purpose. There are clippers for different types of stems, wire cutters, and scissors for types of ribbon, or occasionally blades/knives in lieu of clippers.

Prospect House Styled Shoot-Behind The Scenes-0046

Share with us a resource that you often use.

Practical Botany for Gardeners by Geoff Hodge from University of Chicago Press.


What do you love most about entrepreneurship?

Collaborating is one of the opportunities that I’ve come to love most about the business. I’ve met so many incredibly creative people in this journey, from photographers, to ceramicists, to jewelers, to welders, to graphic designers, and beyond. I believe that makers have a beautiful gift, and the the gift is most beautiful when it is a product of some form of collaboration. Currently, I’m stirring up a project that involves original pieces by local artists/makers! Stay tuned for a collaboration between Anthemum and Austin based ceramicist Whiskey & Clay: http://www.whiskeyandclay.com/

Tell us about your time at the University of Texas, San Antonio.
My time at UTSA was an incredible experience. I started with the intention of graduating with a B.S. in Architecture and a minor in Business Administration. After a couple of years into the program, I learned about the new-ish Construction Science and Management program that was also within UTSAs College of Architecture. I pursued both for a while and really enjoyed the well-balanced curriculum. Diving into both degrees within this same college opened up countless opportunities for me, from multiple options to engage in various organizations, to being a student liaison for interviewing new faculty. Dean Murphy and the rest of the faculty have done an incredible job with each program within the College of Architecture. I am a proud UTSA COA Roadrunner and encourage anyone who is looking for an intimate learning environment, with strong ties to industry opportunities, to consider any of the three great programs within UTSAs College of Architecture.

Where do you typically display your work online?
Instagram @Anthemum – https://www.instagram.com/anthemum/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anthemumfloral/
Anthemum’s Website – http://www.anthemum.com/


Shane Tafares (left), Bianca Tafares (right), Cora Tafares (middle)


Photographs by Chandra + Daniel unless otherwise noted. 

Check out the profile page of University of Texas, San Antonio on StudyArchitecture.com!

THE MAKERS: Ana and Jose Paredes's Mad Macs Dallas

Today, we venture into the kitchen with Ana Paredes, graduate of the architecture department of Arizona State University and her partner in baking, creativity, and life, Jose. By day, an architectural designer and an engineer, by night macaron bakers, these two have been cooking up something pretty tasty down in Dallas, Mad Macs Dallas. Prepare to drool…


Describe your product.

Mad Macs Dallas specializes in macarons. Macarons are french pastries made with almond flour, egg whites and sugar than filled with various ganaches or buttercreams.


What is the difference between a Macaron and a Macaroon?

A macaron is a French pastry made with almond flour, powdered sugar, and a meringue. A macaroon is an American cookie made with coconut flakes.

What led you to create this product?

I have always loved macarons but never knew how to make them. So my husband is the person that first made macarons for me and we continued to practice together, experimenting with different flavors. Our friends and family encouraged us to start selling them because they were that good.

Photo Courtesy of Hartshorne Photography

Chile con Limon

Photo courtesy of Hartshorne Photography

Dark Magic

Photo courtesy of Hartshorne Photography

PB Jelly


White Chocolate HabaneroDark ChocolateWhich flavors do you offer?

Mad Macs Dallas offers PB Jelly, Mint Chocolate, Dark Magic, Yello Mello, Me So Spicy, Chile Con Limon, Raspberry, Mimosa, Pistachio, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Smore’s, Fruity Pebble, Peppermint, and Almond. Seasonal and custom flavors are available too.

Tell us about your process.

With making macarons, the process is very precise. The ratio of grams of egg white to sugar to flour is the most important thing. My husband and I started with an initial ratio but then had to alter it slightly just to improve the look and consistency of them. The second most important thing for macarons is the oven temperature at which you bake them. It has to remain consistent, even though they only have to be baked for 10-11 minutes. The process may not seem intense, but there are many variables that could go wrong. The meringue may not be stiff enough, the batter is too loose or not loose enough, and even if you do everything right – the oven still has the last say! It could be game over if your oven decides to act up.

How did you decide which tools to use?

When we first started, we were using a stand mixer (see video below), regular pans and parchment paper. Once we realized that our macarons were not looking as professional as they could look, we invested in professional equipment such as silpats, baking pans, additional bowls and spatulas. It was all trial and error with us until we found the perfect baking tools to use. Initially we didn’t invest the money for real silpats, but bought off-brand ones thinking they would work the same. Well they didn’t and we learned that quickly!


Share a resource that helped you in this project.

Sur La Table cooking class for macarons has helped us the most. We also look at various macaron blogs when we first started. Pierre Herme, the french macaron maker, is an inspiration to us!


Where do you typically display your work online?


Personal Website


Tell us about your School’s architecture program.

ASU’s graduate school program for Architecture was truly a great experience. 4 semesters of highly integrative studios and other classes that pushed the design conversation to a whole new level. I expected this program to offer a good education but was really surprised by the high quality of professors, colleagues and classes that I was exposed to every semester. By far the best semester for me, and the most challenging, was third semester studio which was an international studio. The studio I chose was interdisciplinary, filled with architecture, landscape, health care designers, and biomedical students. All of us worked closely together on a project for Native American Connections to help design an affordable housing and wellness clinic for them. Both which are under construction now and nearing completion with our initial ideas still intact.

What do you do now that you’ve graduated?

After graduating, I moved back to Dallas to be closer to my now husband, Jose. I work at SmithGroupJJR as an architectural designer. That is my day job. At night, I’m a macaron baker with my husband, Jose.


For more information on Ana and Jose’s company Mad Macs Dallas, visit their website. And if you are in Dallas, head over to Spice in the City to try these delicious works of art. They have a few markets that they will be participating in this year so just check back on Instagram for those announcements.

madmacs_tshirtCan’t get to Dallas and want to show your support from afar? Order a tank today!

Orders must be placed before May 2nd, 2016. Shirts will be delivered 3-4 weeks after that. So…

GET ON IT, Y’all!


THE MAKERS: Nick Tafel's Stealth Roosevelt Wallet

Nick Tafel, founder of NoNameLeathers, is currently a student of The New School, Parsons School of Design in New York, NY. Here he talks about his most recent leather creation, the Stealth Roosevelt Wallet.

Follow NoNameLeathers on Social Media!  Instagram | Website

Describe your product.

This is the Stealth Roosevelt Wallet. Black hand-dyed 4 oz. Herman Oak leather, black waxed polyester stitching. This is definitely the most complex wallet that I build because of how intricate the layering and sequencing of all the pieces are. It has 4 card pockets, 2 hidden pockets and a cash slot in the back.


What led you to create this product?

I began sketching this wallet model about a year ago because I found that I was really displeased with most leather wallets on the market. To me it seemed like you had to choose between quality, price and design. I really wanted to create something that was beautiful, functional, and most of all heavy duty. This wallet is a tank and it will last you forever.


Tell us about the process of making.

When I begin a wallet, I start with natural vegetable tanned leather as it comes to me on a hide.


I lay my patterns out on the leather and trace them so I can cut them out. Using a knife, I carefully cut the patterns out making sure every cut is perfect.


After all the pieces are cut out, I dye the leather blacking using oil dye. Dying leather is tricky because if you are not careful, the dye will be uneven and splotchy. After dying, I treat the pieces with a surface finisher to seal the dye in and give some shine.



Now to start assembling the wallet.


I start by fixing the back pockets with both glue and stitches. These stitches will be hidden by the next pocket but it is important to sew them properly so they will never come undone. To sew leather, I use a traditional saddle stitch which involves one piece of thread with a needle on each end (no sewing machines here!). Each stitch is individually punched and sewn one at a time to ensure quality and consistency.




I glue the front pockets over the back pockets and sew the pieces together.



Then I take those two pockets pieces and glue them to the font of the bill fold and sew them in to create the two hidden pockets.


Next, I glue the back of the bill fold on and finish sewing all the way around. Along the way, I will do what is called ‘edge finishing.’ This is the process of working the edge of the leather to seal it and make it beautiful. Edge finishing is key in a project like this because I glue multiple layers of leather together.


When finished properly, the pieces of leather will seal together and look like one thick piece. The last step of the build is finishing the remaining edges.



Lastly, I stand back and revel at how pretty it is.

stealth roosevelt 2


How did you decide which tools to use?

I have spent a great deal of time experimenting and trying new tools. There are always newer and better tools that make jobs easier and more polished. I go between online forums, videos, and books to choose what tools to buy next. There are a select group of tools that are key to leather working. Whatever tools you do end up using, make sure to keep them sharp. Sharp tools = sharp work. [See the ErgoKiwi post for an example]

Share a resource or resources that helped you in this project.




Where do you typically display your work online?

Instagram @NickTafel @NoNameLeathers

Personal Website (www.nicktafel.com)

Tell us about your School’s architecture program.

At Parsons, they are really focused on the act of making things. They encourage us to make full use of the shop facilities that we have at our fingertips. We have CNC routers, CNC mills, laser cutters, various types of 3D printers, full wood shop, full metal shop, and technicians to help you realize your project on any of them. At all points of projects, professors encourage you to step out of the computer and make a model or a mock up to help you work through your design concept. The other strength of Parsons program, in my opinion, is their emphasis on the social and environmental impacts of design. [Check out more about Parsons Architecture Program on their profile page]

What do you intend to do upon graduation?

I would love to work in a multidisciplinary design office that has architecture integrated into their scope of work. I would like to still have the ability to make models and mock ups of design ideas because I think it is critical to the design process. Ultimately, I would love to start my own company that does this sort of work, but that is many years down the road. Leather working, however, is my cathartic escape from the world of architectural design so I will definitely keep doing that!

Parsons School of Design

Nick Tafel, founder of NoNameLeathers

THE MAKERS: Sean Riley's The Ergo Kiwi Knife

Sean Riley is a student at the Boston Architectural College in Boston, Massachusetts. Here he talks about his design innovation, the Ergo Kiwi knife. Our interview tracks his process from ideation to completion. The Ergo Kiwi Knife is now available! Go and get yours today!

Describe your product.

The Ergo Kiwi is an innovation on the traditional pen knife. It’s designed to reduce stress, strain, and to promote prolonged productivity.

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What inspired you to create your product?

I originally created the tool for myself so that I could work for longer periods of time making models for design studio without cramping up. 

Tell us about your design process. 

I made my first model out of sculpting foam but couldn’t use it to create a working prototype, so I had to duplicate the handle out of wood.

Once I had a form that I was satisfied with I created a template so I could cut as many blanks as I needed. Then, I would sculpt them with a Dremel and sand them with a belt sander.

After making a few iterations I had students at the Boston Architectural College beta test them. I’d analyze the way they held the handles and made adjustments based on my observations. Every person has a different size hand and holds the handle differently, so I made sure to account for that in the prototype.





After about a year of research and development I finally had a handle that I was satisfied with.

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At this point, it was time to make some 3D printed models. I had to teach myself the 3D scanning software (NextEngine 3D scanner) as well Rhinoceros (3D modeling software) so I could modify the 3D mesh that the scan created. After that process, which took about two months, I was able to 3D print prototypes to send out to architecture firms to be tested some more.


After testing the handle in a few model shops at Boston architecture firms, the only complaint I received was that the blade would get stuck in thicker materials. So I added a latch which utilizes the prefabricated hole in the blade to lock the blade in place.




[The blank being milled. I used Baltic Burch plywood with 1/64 inch (0.4 millimeter) layers to show the contours of the handle. The stepover on this finishing pass, which is like the resolution, is set to .005 inches (0.1 millimeters) so in the end you have a clean precise handle. Each handles takes about an hour and half to mill and another 30-50 minutes of finish work.]

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How did you decide which tools to use?

The choice of tools changed from traditional to modern fabrication techniques as the project progressed. In the very beginning I used a lot of hand tools to create physical models out of foam and wood because I didn’t know any 3D modeling software. After I had a physical object, I needed a 3D model, so I had to teach myself to use a 3D scanner and Rhino to modify the 3D model. Once I had that, I was able to print prototypes. 

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Share a resource that helped you in this project.

Where do you typically display your work online?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Personal Website, ErgoKiwi.com

Tell us about your school’s architecture program.

The Boston Architectural College is an accredited architecture school located in the Back Bay area. The program is designed so that students work during the day at a design related firm and attend classes at night.

What do you intend to do upon graduation?

I’ve already started a business based around the product that I’ve created which I will be running. After graduation I plan on using my design education, fabrication skills and entrepreneurial experience to start a fabrication firm which takes ideas from concept to physical product to manufacturing. As well as pursue other business opportunities from additional products that I’ve patented.


If you want more information about the ErgoKiwi knife, please visit their website: ergokiwi.com.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign!

Also, read on at ArchDaily, “How I Developed Ergo Kiwi, an Ergonomic Craft Knife that Your Fingers Will Thank You For.”

Here are some beautiful images of the finished product. Prepare to drool!

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Emily Andrews is a student at the University of Texas, School of Architecture. Here she talks about a project she completed within Professor Wiedemann’s Vertical Studio course.


Emily Andrews - Map

How did you create this project?

Our studio focused on the segment of the El Camino Real de los Tejas that falls between San Antonio and Austin, TX. Before we started mapping, I had been reading Domingo Ramon’s expedition diary of 1716, and was becoming lost in his descriptions and encounters. When we were told to go explore the trail on our own, I immediately noticed the dissimilarities in my encounters to that of Ramon’s. I made my map as a means to document both our journeys, with emphasis lying on our points of interest and stops along the way. For Ramon, those almost always happened at river crossings; mine happened at gas stations, swimming holes, and historical missions.

Emily Andrews - Map - 1

How did you decide which tools to use?

I decided to use photography in contrast with journal entries as a way to document. I worked primarily by hand, printing the photographs and journals onto Mylar and then adhering them to my 9+ ft map. I studied a series of folding techniques early on before folding the final map. The folds were important to highlight my points of interest and to see where Ramon’s points correlate. They were also are a way to emphasize duration and the difference in time it would take me to travel the 80 miles vs. Ramon.

Where do you typically display your work online?

Instagram and Facebook

Emily Andrews - Map 3


Emily Andrews - Map 4

Why did you choose to go to architecture school?

I chose to pursue architecture in my undergrad at the University of Washington in Seattle. I took advantage of exploring different drawing classes and art classes, and began to consider it as a major. I took a summer intro studio and it sealed the deal for me. I loved the culture of studio and the dynamics of the classes, everything was interesting and I knew that I had to pursue it further.

Tell us about your school’s architecture program.

This is my first semester at the UTSOA. I’ve found the school has a great mix of diverse faculty interests which allows you to seek out particular focus areas, but also keeps discussion in the school dynamic and meaningful. The first studios you take here are Vertical Studios, which means that students’ backgrounds and skill levels vary and everyone brings something unique to the table.

What do you love about studying architecture?

I love being in a place where I can explore my own thoughts on architecture, while being surrounded by colleagues who are also eager to have discussions on what the role of architecture in our society is today. The culture of architecture school, the studios, theory discussions, site visits, is what I’ll miss most when I graduate. You’re really in a place where everyone is eager to learn and explore and it’s an exciting energy.

What are your plans post-graduation?

I think the first thing I’ll do when I graduate is travel. The second thing is find a job that doesn’t feel like a job.


See more from Emily on Instagram and Issuu.

#IMADETHAT @NYIT Nicholas Soniprasad

Nicholas Soniprasad is a student at New York Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Design. Here he talks to us about his midterm project for ARCH-291 Parametric Design with professor Jason Van Nest.

Nicholas Soniprasad

How did you create this project?

I first sketched the design out on paper and then generated a 3D model in Rhino using the Paneling tools and Grasshopper plugins. After a few modifications a laser file was created in AutoCAD to fabricate the pieces. Acrylic sheets were laser cut and glued together to form the lamp.

Nicholas Soniprasad

How did you decide which tools to use?

This was a midterm project, so, given that we had to meet certain deadlines and expectations, the use of Rhino was the most efficient software. We had access to the Paneling tools and Grasshopper plugin which, made manipulations easier.

image 1


Why did you choose to go to architecture school?

Initially, I was interested in the traditional building construction field. However, four years later my outlook has changed. New technologies have served as a unique medium for design and construction.

Tell us about your NYIT’s architecture program.

The architecture program at NYIT is rigorous. We have many dedicated faculty members and small studio classes. Our fabrication lab is equipped with updated tools for students to experiment with. The School of Architecture and Design does a good job focusing on the entire field, from fundamental design to professional practice. I love the design process.

What do you love about studying architecture?

It is exciting to know that you’ll never really be done with a design. There is always room for improvement if you are looking at it the right way.

What are your plans post-graduation?

My plans are to continue researching Parametric Design. After returning from my first trip to Europe, I plan on traveling abroad to gain inspiration. There will always be plenty to learn.


See more from Nicholas on Instagram and Issuu