What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?
Caleb Mulvena: It's diversity. The breadth of my experiences working for other firms on an array of projects around the world was an active decision and course of events in my career which helped lead to Mapos. The true personal achievements and real milestones are going to evolve within this relatively new venture.
Colin Brice: Working right now! We started Mapos in early 2008. The last 18 months have been an adventure full of growth, challenge, and adaptation. We are continuing to work and connect with amazing clients and colleagues. This economy has forced a lot of entrepreneurs to innovate and collaborate in different ways. It's turned into a great time to strike out on your own.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
CM: Simply seeing the inhabitants truly enjoy and delight in a space (or object) I have designed—sometimes in unexpected ways.
CB: Waking up each morning and knowing we have created a business that is simultaneously helping our clients realize a vision AND fulfilling our need for creative output. It's a great win-win situation.
What are the biggest challenges facing designers today?
CM: Materials and methods available today seem to be evolving at an almost exponential pace—particularly as they relate to the carbon footprint on a global scale—and established metrics for this continue to be a moving target. As designers, asking hard questions and staying at the forefront of thought in this category remain a constant battle.
CB: I agree with Caleb here. Another challenge for designers is shifting through all of this information and developing a logical plan using relevant resources. Designers have the problem-solving skills to stay afloat, it is simply becoming more important to stay close to our ideals and not lose ourselves in the rising sea.
What is the best thing you've learned in the past 10 years?
CM: Come to the table with one great design option, and another great one in your back pocket. Bringing five options to the table suggests a lack of conviction and inevitably leads to confusion for both the client and the team.
CB: Everyone is a resource. Listen carefully, even when it might seem like a distraction. Good ideas are everywhere and sometimes (a lot of times!) they come from unexpected places.
What advice would you give to design students or those just starting out in the field?
CM: In all likelihood, your first job will not be your last. Take pride in crafting great drawings that communicate—whether they be Renderings or Construction Details. These will come to be your greatest currency as your early career progresses from firm to firm.
CB: On a related note, try different things! I am always drawn to resumes that include unique internships, other creative interests, and lots of travel. These diverse experiences will only fuel your creative drive.
What do you consider to be the worst invention of the last 100 years?
CM: "The Rabbit" wine opener—my favorite example of gratuitous overdesign. This barely nudged out some of these other contenders: Parking lots, wall-to-wall carpeting, Chanel moon boots, credit default swaps, voice-mail jail, stretch Mini Coopers, American cheese, and bottled water.
CB: The Humvee for everyday use. Talk about a tremendous waste of resources! Other notables: the atom bomb, cul-de-sacs, single-use-zoning, the lawn, fur-lined Crocs, Botox, Hollywood sequels, and reality TV—that ain't reality.
If you could have selected another career, what might you have been?
CM: An independent screenwriter/director. I believe telling compelling stories in a beautiful way is an innate human urge. Few things can connect with so many other humans using so many tools- image, narrative, and music.
CB: A photographer for National Geographic - traveling to the remotest corners of the world to share the amazingly jaw-dropping beauty of the people and places with whom we share this planet.
What would you like to leave as your legacy?
CM: Buildings and spaces that continue to be used successfully beyond their original program as part of a greater urban and cultural framework. Also, I would like to turn Hadrian's Villa into a YMCA.
CB: An optimistic sense about the power of design. Cities and places can be improved for the better if your heart and head are in the right place. (A nod to the legacy of the great Sam Mockbee here).
How do you foresee the future of design changing?
CM: I feel we're on the verge of a watershed era wherein a far greater emphasis is placed on where and what something came from and where it will be going when one is finished with it. There are only so many landfills and so many Rabbit wine openers to fill them with.
CB: As industries become more specialized and resources more strained, designers will be increasingly asked to lead more and more diverse and disparate teams. The act of designing will always be at the center. The ability of the designer to link ideas and create thoughtful and effective solutions will become more in demand.