Monday, May 19, 2014


When I started this blog four years ago, I had a mission statement, believe it or not, which was simply to write about what I found aesthetically pleasing. It was always more about the imagery than the words as the visuals are inherently the inspiration for what we do as designers everyday. I am forever grateful for all the extraordinary people in my orbit and constantly inspired by the amazingly talented people in our field. 

Jeff Dungan is one of those truly bright lights-the creative genius and co-founder of Dungan-Nequette Architects.  Jeff is a fresh southern voice in the world of architecture. He is a true renaissance man- multi-faceted, humble, spiritual, fearless and eloquent- soft-spoken, yet his words resonate with a power that elicits the same visceral response his work evokes. As I said before, this blog is not about the words, particularly mine in this instance, but I would encourage you to take the time to read his-a warrior poet in a true Southern vernacular - meet Jeff Dungan...

What was the best advice you ever received?

My dad told me-son, no matter how much money you make, you can always spend MORE…and I lived to prove him RIGHT about that.  My mom said-son, you are great at starting things, but not very good at finishing them.  I actually worked on that one some, but my nature is still to hit 10 nails one time, instead of one nail ten times…

 Who was your mentor?

Well, I have learned from a lot of people.  My grandfather was a huge influence on me as a youngster: he taught me to work, that man was a worker and not much talking allowed.  He was born in 1899-  I loved him to death, he taught me how to deal with animals and sling blades, but mostly I am pretty sure he just tolerated me. For which I was very grateful.  He told me things I know I have inside me but don't remember being told.  My dad taught me to get along with everyone and my mom taught me that education was each person's own first job.  She also encouraged me in the arts and in no way am I an architect without her urging.  My mother "urges" in a similar fashion to locomotives and large yellow machinery…

Where does your creative inspiration come from? 

It can be quite a few different things, surely art does-or wait a second-SOME kinds of art and I won't even go into the crap that is so not art, but that would be another question..  Travel would be high on my list of inspirational fodder.  Impossible to quantify its importance really but Europe is full of great old buildings, towns and cities, however, so many great places are right here in America, even in the south.  Basically anything can send me on a tangent.

Of the all arts, music is supreme for daily creative inspiration.  I rarely draw without music.  It can transport me and move me and is like soul cleaner…(ok I made that up).  Music is like, as I once heard the definition of having tears as "words that couldn't get said any other way."  Man I wish I had made that up. Some of my recent faves are Water Liars, Beck (Morning Phase), Avett Borthers, and my talented friend Duquette Johnston. 
Travel, Music, Art- people also!  People can be very inspirational- but as inspiration, not as trustworthy and dependable- or as easy to turn on and off as my iPod….

What do you want your legacy to be? 

Well, I think first of all, people make up their own minds about you, so I don't worry about things like legacy too much.  What I hope to leave behind when I am nourishing sunflowers is a body of work or oeuvre that is beautiful and cherished by its owners and people who live/work/share meals inside these shelters.  What I want most of all is to have effected the lives of people in a way that literally made their life better.  That’s a tall order, but I believe in my heart that design has that kind of power…

No matter where you are or who you are- you are inside a structure (ok, you could be standing in a field of sunflowers) but most likely you spend most of your life INSIDE something that some other human being designed.  I want the people I work with and for, and people I may never meet, to know a man cared deeply about how they would experience life inside that thing.  It can be inspiring.  It is inspiring to me to try every day to create such places.  Its really about the experience you have there.  What do you see?  How does the light come in? What materials are used and how does it make you feel…I want the legacy to be in the amazing lives people had there.  I want the work we create to be "a gift to the street".

Are you satisfied with your life?

That makes me laugh, I don't know why. I think its because most days I pinch myself that I have the life I do.  Of course, I still complain sometimes-but I am probably more surprised at how my life turned out than anyone.  I get to do a job that is so much fun, it usually doesn't feel like work.  It feels like making art when you are young.  I get to work with great people of talent and ability and artisans who can sew beams together like thread, blacksmiths, metal workers and plasterers and the list goes on.  It's inspiring the people I work with in studio every day, sharing ideas on our work, collaborating together.  Someone has a problem, they are stuck, you help get it back on track, not because you are a genius, but because you have a fresh set of eyes or another idea on how it could work.  And vice versa-we all have limitations, but together we make a team that is quite powerful.  That is exciting because I love people.  My understanding of the extrovert is that the extrovert gets their energy from being around people.  Many days I feel like a 100 watt bulb in a 200 watt socket…

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