April 14, 2015
We both came to Minneapolis to attend college, left for a while, and eventually each of us found our way back. Over the years we have lived in many cities and like so many of them that neither one of us quite feels like anyplace is home anymore. However, we really like being here. Even though there are a lot of interesting things happening in Minneapolis it still manages to fly under the radar and we like that about it — it leaves plenty of room to work quietly and remain anonymous. There is a kind of modest discipline in the local culture which we are very at home with. And we love the winters. We painted our studio all white and when it snows the light here is great.
Minneapolis still has neighborhoods that feel plain and not over designed, where you find a lot of people doing good work in random spots, like backyard garages and small corners of industrial buildings. There are so many interesting places that haven’t been touched. Our studio is like that, located in an anonymous building that houses a roofing company, food testing lab, band practice space, and a Korean adoption agency.
One of our favorite neighborhoods is the West Bank of the U of M or Cedar/Riverside neighborhood. It is full of buildings built from the late 1800’s all the way up to present day. It has a good mix of cultures, people, shops and restaurants and none of it is too precious. We especially like the Cedar Riverside towers — the raw materiality of the concrete is great and we love the scale of the public spaces between the buildings.
We have been teaching design studio and working on projects together for years, while also pursuing our own individual work. Sometime last summer we realized that neither one of us was that interested in working alone and that we actually do our best work when we are collaborating with each other.We have similar interests and ideas but are good at different things. Our strengths tend to complement each other, making our work better and more enjoyable when it’s done together. In some ways MAD has slowly been developing for the past 10 years. Our teaching has consistently focused on process over outcome and it has been our experience that focusing on ideas and process always leads somewhere interesting and unexpected. MAD has developed as a way to explore this idea more fully in our own work. Finding our studio space was a first step. It’s very large and light filled, but rough enough that we can cast concrete and dye fabric without worrying about ruining anything.
We think about where we work and MAD as being intrinsically linked. Having enough space to work is important but being able to design the space in a way that supports our working process is really essential. The large bays allowed us to create 21 foot-long tables within each of them so multiple projects can be laid out and worked on simultaneously. We work on a wide variety of design projects — architecture, clothing, products and graphic design so far this year — but all of the work is related and the projects all inform each other, so seeing lots of it together is very important. We constantly move things around on the tables and reorganize the relationships, which leads to new ideas and work.
For us this is all strongly related to having chosen to work in this city. Minneapolis feels like the perfect place for MAD to evolve. It has a strong tradition of supporting the arts and other creative disciplines, it still has some large areas with interesting buildings that remain undeveloped and there is an abundance of exceptional people to collaborate with. We feel lucky to have found such a large space within a city filled with progressive and creative people.