We shape the things we create, and the world shapes us. As a kid, I loved both science and woodshop, social studies and puzzles. Theory and practice. Solving a quadratic equation can feel, in your mind, the same as sanding a piece of Pacific cedar until the grain glows.
To create, you must first capture the clues about what’s already in the world. You must sift through everything: the extraordinary and the mundane. You must mine every corner of the world for the found objects that might become profound in another context. You must mine every moment for ideas that wing through our heads like birds. You must be grateful for all the things that creation shows you, so that you can create alongside it.
Like many, I took a meandering path to where I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Working in a deli in Placentia, California, during high school showed me as much about how a commercial space works as my education did.
I remember what spatially worked and what didn’t, like it was yesterday, because it fascinated me. That led me to study interior and environmental design at California State University, Long Beach. I worked at Nordstrom at the same time, watching how people moved through the store, forming impressions and seeing patterns that I would mine years later.
I decided I had to be my own test subject, so I designed a house for my family of four. We loved it, and so did a neighbor, who asked me to remake hers. And so on. I went deep on those projects and learned that I needed more training to do my best work.
In 1999, with two children in grade school, I enrolled at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, known in the trade as SCI-Arc. The school was started in 1972 by Ray Kappe and other architects from Cal Poly Pomona who wanted to lecture less and experiment more. That ethos matched my own, and I felt right at home among the renegades.
I spent five years at SCI-Arc, under the direction of Neil Denari and Eric Owen Moss at the time, studying design theory, construction methods, materials, and sustainability, under many notable modern architects including Raimund Abraham, Robert Mangurian, Mary-Ann Ray, Michael Rotondi, and Tom Buresh to name a few. Their teachings asked you to engage, speculate, and take the lead in reimagining the limits of architecture by encouraging you to forget all the rules you’ve ever been taught. The output became something between art and experimentation. It was concurrently the most challenging period of my life and the most vital.
Following graduation, in 2006, a fellow student at SCI-Arc recruited me to join the innovation and creative team at BrandIQ, a market-research and brand-strategy firm in Silverlake, California. Suddenly, all my formative work and creative experiences turned into gold, even those long held memories from the deli and Nordstrom. As clients like Google, the National Park Service and Boar’s Head Provisions, asked us to design retail and restaurant concepts, actually bringing form to their brands.
At the same time, my passion grew for building homes and objects with poetic intention, so I started my own interior and architectural design practice, DFRAGD. Once again, I wanted to test my ideas on myself and my family. Our latest home became a case study of its own. It has been a work in progress ever since, a laboratory for me to test the ideas I’ve been refining since those early days in woodshop.
I continue to follow my intuition, curiosities and desire to create, no matter the scale.
I hope you enjoy my digital portfolio.