Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hey, Maker! 8 Quick Questions with Colin of Paramorph

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528. Follow along for Q+As, home & studio tours, and instagram takeovers. 

This week we're getting to know Colin Deckner of Paramorph. His original, geometric designs have been transformed into shelves, tables, stools, and more. Shop Paramorph at our Chicago storefront or online at apt528.com. And don't forget to follow along as Colin takes over our instagram.


   === Paramorph Apartment Takeover on instagram

First important question, what word do you hate and why?

It’s more of a term. I absolutely hate “like­-minded.” For me it’s a pretty good tell that the person I’m talking to has no idea what they’re talking about. As soon as I hear someone talk about the desire to bring together the “like­-minded” I run, because the next thing that person asks for is free work. Even though I agree with the sentiment, I much prefer “competent” people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and disagree.

When you're not busy working, what do you do to relax?

I eat! I work a full time job, a part time job, and Paramorph in between. Since I don’t have much time off the clock, I eat well on my lunch breaks and dinner and I eat as much as I can. I try to cook 2­ to 3 times a week, mostly pizza. The other day I made my own paneer for the first time. It’s so easy I’ll probably do it again soon. I also found a good portobello burger recipe that I’m sure to make again.

If you could learn any craft or skill in minutes, what would it be?

How to pour a leaf in a latte. I say this because I tried it every day for a year and still couldn’t do it. After a while I started posting a bunch of my fails to annoy my friends but then the captions got too real about the artist struggle.

You're an architect by trade. What led you to start Paramorph?

Paramorph started in my last year of architecture school. I have a studied architecture at CCA in San Francisco. I was in a relationship with my college sweetheart and we were building our nest, I really enjoyed building things for us. Finding a job sucks, you might have had the same experience. For every 4 jobs I applied to I’d get 1 interview. I was told those were good numbers. Most of the jobs I applied to said things like “wow this is really cool work but we just want more clean line modernism, because that’s what our clients ask for.” Hearing that so many times really drove it home that the majority of people’s tastes haven’t come around to “parametric” design yet. This is where the ethos of Paramorph comes from - the goal was to build parametric design culture from the bottom up by making small scale work that people would want in their homes.

The piece that started Paramorph - a custom bar table in his San Francisco apartment.

What was the first piece you ever designed and built? Do you still have it?

I have a small wooden box I made in elementary school. I still use it. The first thing I ever drew out then built was a really really terrible quarter pipe so me and my friends could drop in on our razor scooters. This was like 1999 or 2000. This was not the last really awful skate­ ramp I built. (HAHA!)

The lines and shapes you use in your work are so natural and organic. How do you keep coming up with new, original forms?

I created a process of branching forms, so rather than creating a drawing with dimensions, I set up parameters and let the forms play themselves out. After making enough of the shelves, I started seeing patterns emerging, so it’s not completely random. In production right now there are many products that use digital fabrication techniques to mass produce the same object over and over. This misses the point of the technology which was to allow us to customize each product to the user’s needs. Paramorph is 100% pro digital fabrication, but with an emphasis on the human element of parametric design thinking and the proper use of craft, I don’t CNC (computerized wood cutting machine) unless it is the best use of my resources.

When you're creating a table or shelf, do you often imagine it in one of the buildings you designed, or vice versa?

No never. I’m more inclined to think of how these things could fit into existing homes. I try to make things as functional as possible. I see my shelves in someone’s kitchen holding spices, or utensils with oven­ mitts or towels hung from the bars. Or maybe in the bathroom holding towels and a candle on the shelf. Or even a shelf in the bedroom next to the mirror with make­up on top and the one or two outfits you’re thinking about wearing being hung from the bars.

What's next for Paramorph in the coming year? Any new products or projects in the works?

I’m just gonna make a list:

  1. Bookcase
  2. Guitar Stands
  3. Media Console
  4. Pot­Rack
  5. Table Legs
  6. Desks
  7. More Coffee Tables


Thanks for following along, and thanks to Colin for letting us pick his brain! Head to apt528.com to shop Paramorph shelves. After that, check out our past maker features:

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

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