Intervention & Creation
Designer, maker, creative, Efrain Velez has touched it all. From massive complex buildings to intuitive modern products. His eyes are constantly drawn toward creative challenges that place people, and social change at their core. We sat down with Efrain to chat about his process, and bringing these ideas to life.
What inspired your career choice?
I had the fortune of growing up and living in places with rich visual and lyrical identities such as Puerto Rico, Europe, the North American Continent, and currently the planet called Texas. This was the departure point for most of my career choices. The joy of being outside, making gear (furniture, lighting, and designing environments), and the feeling of community that comes from being amongst friends fuels my drive to continue growing my career in Design and Architecture. My go-to-happy place will always be an evening around the campfire with my guitar.
When did you first know this was for you?
It all “clicked” when I realized that my interest in Design was more about the act of intervention rather than creation and the choices that I make for others in terms of materials, function, and aesthetics can positively or negatively affect the meaning and quality of their experiences. It is a responsibility and purpose that I take very seriously.
How do you go about starting a new project?
My process relies mostly on two things: 1.) a sincere and constant dialogue with the project source (i.e. the client or end-user), and 2.) the deliberate integration of rich narratives (voices – the more sources, the better) into that conversation. One builds trust, and the other enables triangulation to better hit the mark. Technically, I resist the natural urge to draw as much as possible by writing and imagining alternatives to any preconceived and/or established narratives. In the beginning of a project, words are faster for me to manipulate than forms and the quickest path to iterate a goal. Next, I test and manipulate the flow to find the words that best and clearly describe the overall intent. Intent is critical for design, especially whenever collaborating because a clear and common goal is a must.
Who’s the best in the game right now?
I believe whoever is “best in the game” is always changing. To me, the “best” are the ones with staying power and those designers or companies who proactively seek, engage, and contribute to the broader conversation of making and building social and environmentally responsible products and environments for the future. Staying current with that on-going cultural dialogue is a commitment I’ve made to my team and clients.
What’s one material you think is really underrated?
I discovered Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) a few years ago after experimenting with regular concrete for many years. As an Industrial Designer, it allowed me to improve upon the mass, scale and repeatability of the material through the development of new and award-winning furniture. I am interested in bringing this knowledge to my practice in Architecture by taking advantage of new and tried parametric methods of design and production.
Have you been experimenting with new forms in your practice?
Yes, my team and I are working on a broad range of architectural and interior projects that constantly push us to experiment with new ways to use and manipulate materials and techniques like solid surface and modular fabrication. I am especially interested in utilizing all of the knowledge, experimentation and efficiencies that I acquired over the years to design and develop a new line of furniture and lighting products.