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.