summer 2012

Put A Bird In It—Featured Maker, fix studio

The neighborhood birds will be lining up around the block for their chance to hang out in our latest Put a Bird In It birdhouse. With a mixture of humor and whimsey, the designers at fix studio have created a miniaturized version of Portland’s iconic food cart.

fix studio is a collaborative design studio that is committed to crafting warm, thoughtful, well-executed designs in a variety of mediums. You can clearly see their expertise and attention to detail in their birdhouse. Let’s take a look at their process and learn a little more about what inspires the fix studio team. 

Tell us about the people who worked on this project.

We enjoyed the opportunity to create something fun that supports art in our public schools. Chris Bleiler, Bird Projects Director, at fix took the lead and played on Portland iconic themes and the rest of the team hunted for the right pieces once we landed on an idea. Jennifer Jako, Avian Interiors Expert, selected materials, and Noelle Bullock, Flock Font Designer, arranged text.

Arts in the schools are the reason we design today. Jennifer Jako says, “I remember my grade school art teacher letting me take time with my art projects and explore my creativity.” Having art class was vital to all of us; it was where we felt at home during the school day. We’ve created a design practice where most days are like art class.

What are your current design influences and inspiration?

Timelessness, aerodynamics and a sense of humor. We tell you anything else, and we’d have to serve you to our hatchlings.

What is it about Portland that attracts such a diverse community of makers and artists? What do you think is important about community and design?

Quality of life is good here. Most cities that experience growth provide room for creatives to develop a career path - Portland has provided a supportive environment that nurtures our creative assets. Community and design go hand in hand; they feed one another. If you can’t share design and the design process with others it is less rewarding. It is far more interesting to have people sharing their work which creates a healthy discourse. There’s a kind of collective consciousness we’ve observed, even in design. fix studio is passionate about the community of people who design, build and create in Portland. We put on a furniture show,, every other October to celebrate many of these people and their work.

Have you created 3D artwork before? What do find exciting or challenging about creating this birdhouse? 

This is the first time we’ve ever peeled our hands from the keyboard… still removing the slivers from all the woodwork! (laughter) Really, there isn’t a whole lot 3D we haven’t done. However, it was refreshing to work on something at this scale. We referenced a nursery rhyme ”Sing a Song of Sixpence.” It was nice to work on something with a short production time, realistic deadline, and a client that will love whatever we produce with no changes! And how often do we get to use only found materials, an empty Advil bottle, the Birdy kit and a trashed RC car?

Please give us a little detail about your process and approach to the project so far. What have you enjoyed about it?

We concepted ways we might approach making a birdhouse. We wanted to create something that referenced Portland-centric things, that was aesthetically pleasing while making people smile. Pie hole! Ideas bounced around the studio, including RVs, travel trailers, food carts, deconstructionist nests by assembling chopped plywood slivers, treating the bird as a client to make a birdhouse a bird would actually use, and we thought of making a glass birdhouse - which on second thought seemed cruel! Food cart stuck. We’re hoping to start a bidding war at the auction; who doesn’t want to own their very own avian food cart? When we posted a pic of the 4 and 20 bird house, we enjoyed that some of our FB fans thought we had made a human size food cart!

This little birdhouse is just one of the amazing pieces that will be auctioned off to help raise money to support music and art programs in Portland schools. Be sure to join us for the Put a Bird In It auction and party on Friday, October 12th! 

Save the Dates—Design Week Portland

Before you fire up the barbecues for this long holiday weekend make sure to check out the official Design Week Portland website that launched today. October 9 - 13th there will be daily events, speakers and workshops that will blow your mind.

WeMake is getting in on the action with two very special events:

sketchXchange with Aaron Draplin

We’ll be hosting a sketchXchange on Friday, October 12th with the one and only Aaron Draplin at Union/Pine. Be ready to grab your seat ($10) because this event is going to be legendary. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 21st at 1pm.

Put a Bird In It Auction & Party

Local, national, and international designers, illustrators, architects, agencies and makers have been hard at work creating unique birdhouses to help raise money for the arts and music education in Portland’s under-served schools. 

On Friday, October 12th (just after sketchXchange) guests will have the opportunity to not only bid on the birdhouses, but also participate in several interactive experiences. Beats will be flowing highlighting the Portland Music scene and food and drink will be available. 

This will be a great party, a celebration of Portland’s design community, and an opportunity to give back to our area schools.

We’ll have more details soon, but for now check out the website, circle design week on your calendars, and have a fun (and safe!) Labor Day weekend.

Special shout out to Scribble Tone and WeMake’s very own Lizy Gershenzon for the DWP branding and website! 

Put A Bird In It–Featured Maker, Always With Honor

Elsa and Tyler Lang are the passionate pair and creative spirit of Always with Honor. The simple and iconic style is evident in everything that they create, and their lighthearted personalities are infused within each piece. The work is playful, clever and somewhat wholesome with fresh color pallets and often nature inspired.

You may have seen some of it gracing the pages of many magazines including: GOOD, Wired, Money, Monocle, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Businessweek, and Real Simple to name a few. Other client work includes posters and store graphics for NIKE, maps for MTV, illustrations for Audubon, brand design for the local Boke Bowl and so much more.  

We are SO happy to have them participate in Put A Bird In It!

How did we charm you into working on this project for us? 

We love birds and houses so a birdhouse was a natural progression, right? We’re nature lovers and really enjoy working away from the computer whenever possible so we were excited to be involved.

What’s been your approach so far?

We knew we wanted to do something bright and fun involving a bird itself. We spent a good amount of time looking at our collection of bird books, exploring how best translate a bird’s iconic attributes to the house. We constructed the birdhouse to resemble a Cardinal in it’s simplest form. 

We’re not saying a Cardinal is narcissistic and would want to live in it’s own likeness, but you never know, some other bird might be a fan.

So you moved here from New York? Has Portland influenced your design aesthetics? 

We’ve just hit three years of living in Portland and have definitely been inspired by this great city and community we’re lucky to be a part of. We love being able to take a day trip out to the coast or desert- it’s a great way to reboot and remind ourselves why we do what we do when we’ve spent too much time in the studio.

Put A Bid In It—Feature Makers, Woven Narratives

Fabric Lenny & Jonathan Grauel are the trans-Atlantic team of Woven Narratives. Fabric Lenny (aka Paul Slater) is based in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, UK and Jonathan Grauel in Charlotte, North Carolina. When they first applied, we didn’t realize that they weren’t in the same studio, yet alone country! Their art is awesome and what makes it even more impressive is the way they work.

Using mostly the iPad as their chosen medium, an artistic narrative unfolds between the passing of each brush creating somewhat “folky” compositions layered with bright colors, patterns and curious details. Love it! 

Some of their recent work has developed into three dimensions as small ‘soft sculptures’ with the latest series painted on heavy weight paper with acrylics and Poscas. Each piece has travelled an average of 40,000 miles during its creation, bouncing back and forth via email or through the international postal system. Cool.

How did you hear about our project and what about it inspired you to participate?

Jonathan’s wife caught wind of the project on twitter and emailed suggesting the two of us check it out. Arts education is important  to us, and the project also offered us an interesting opportunity to push our work in a different direction.

Your work seems so fluid, and it’s very impressive that you have found a way to use pixels to create something that appears to be painted in the traditional form. Is there a certain app or brush that you prefer in this medium?

We work mainly using the Brushes App on the iPad, sometimes tweaking in a variety of other apps.  Until the latest version of Brushes (which is still in Beta) we were compositing the final works in Photoshop before going to print.

You met in New York back in 2010, how often do you actually get together personally to create outside the digital world?

We have met in person four times since our initial meeting, including a second New York trip, a fruitful meet up in San Francisco, at a  fantastic iPad exhibition in Hamburg Germany and most recently in the UK for the 154 Collective exhibition this summer.

Rabbots by Fabric Lenny

Where is Oasis, by Jonathan Grauel

We are delighted to have Woven Narrative participate in our project and look forward to seeing their birdhouse ( A sneak peek is below) ! Check out this video of how they work using the iPad and the Nomad Brush!

Put A Bird In It—Featured Maker, Ziba

Ziba is a leading design firm known for their innovation and creativity. With offices across the globe including San Diego, Munich and Tokyo, their main headquarters are based right here in Portland.  Ziba is an active member of the creative community and we are thrilled to have them contribute to our Put a Bird In It project. 

A team of designers have put their talents to good use and designed not one, but two unique birdhouses to help support music and the arts in Portland public schools. Take a look at some of the design process so far.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and the people working on this project.

So far there have been nine of us working on the birdhouses. We’re all super-busy these days so the birdhouse work is getting done during lunchtimes, early-mornings, and on the weekends in little fits and spurts as project and travel schedules allow. We all share a strong passion for design, but we have different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Our birdhouse team has training in architecture, industrial design, graphic design and model making. We each have a unique approach to design problems that makes working together fun, sometimes challenging and very rewarding.

We also had help from Joe Mitchoff at Viridian Wood and Kevin Brennan at Green Star International who donated some really nice reclaimed wood for us to use. 

What are your design influences and inspiration? What excites you about design?

Our influences come from all over. When we’re working on a complex problem for a client, it’s very common that the best solutions are going to come from outside the client’s existing industry. For example, when we started to design the birdhouses, we didn’t just look at other birdhouses and bird nests for inspiration; we looked at everything from architecture, furniture design and fashion, to digital experiences and fine arts; looking for something that might spark an idea. You never know where the best ideas will come from, so we do everything we can to stay open to new sources of inspiration. 

What appeals to you in regards to this project? Please give us a little detail about your process and approach to the project so far. What have you enjoyed about it?

There are lots of things about this project that got us excited and eager to start working. First, we’re all absolutely convinced of the importance of good art and music education in public schools. Everyone at Ziba is the beneficiary of good creative education, and we’re always ready to get to work when there’s a chance for us to support public arts education in Portland.  

Second, the seemingly simple concept of designing a birdhouse is a great challenge. Blank canvases, like the one we were given here, are a thrill because we get to draw on a wide spectrum of influences and create something new, interesting and beautiful. Our team’s varied backgrounds and core competencies help this too. We have people here from all over the world and with a huge range of expertise, so if you pick any five people in the building and get them together to work on an open-ended project like this, you’re going to get some great ideas that you wouldn’t have considered if you were working on the project alone. We love to work together on projects like this, and feed off each other’s ideas.

We’d like to send a huge thank you to the Ziba Birdhouse team (so far): Maria Lalli, Hannah Amis, Amin Zahiry, Malcolm Lee, Jessica Wallace, Damien Menard-Oxman, Joe Bowers, and Paul Petri.