How do you know Tom?
I’ve known Tom since childhood, in Spokane, our families sort of connected earlier in our lives – and still have a kind of connection together, over there.
Why do you think he suggested I speak to you?
Being a designer, I suppose that I’ve learned about what it’s like to come from a place like Spokane, which has certain small town characteristics, then to grow out, go out, and work in other places on the planet – places that might be in the Northwest, or places that might be thousands of miles away, in other countries. We’ve both done that.
What has been the nature of your relationship, ie more personal or professional?
Actually, I’ve got a long history with the firm that Tom’s linked to – in fact, I’ve been working with some of the partners there for decades…nearly three decades, actually.
How would you describe Tom, (i.e. to a friend)?
I’d offer these to someone. Tom’s sense is about experiment and exposure; he’s one to reach to thinking about designing things in the context of his own hands and doing the work, making the work –making things work – himself. Some architects tend to work in the context of sketching ideas and seeing how someone gets to them, working them out. Tom, however, in his history as a designer, as a maker, creator, has built, by hand: spaces and objects. It’s a different character to think that way. So you can see applications in his work that speak to this. Making things by hand, choosing the tools, the materials, the weights of things – because they have been felt. That’s a distinguishing character.
How would you describe his style as an architect?
What makes Tom different – and what is his style are two aligned questions. One is that Tom is curious; he rambles and explores divergent ways of thinking and seeing things. So, in a manner, looking at some of his materials use, he ways of approaching – for example – walls and doors, it’s different stuff. You get to doing things like that because you are experiencing / or experimenting with these fundamental concepts. Or the idea of raising the roof at the OSKA offices. What’s that about, creating a massive supporting, hinged structure to open a ceiling? Well, it’s functional. But two, it’s a dramatically different solution to light, and cooling space, creating a different sense of environment and spatial spirit.
What personality characteristics do you think are quintessentially Tom? (noted above) How important a part do Tom’s Spokane roots play in his life?
I’d offer that apprenticing with a madman like Harold Balazs (who told my parents to cut my hands off on learning that I wanted to be an artist) would be a big impact – Harold’s all about that. He’s all about being hybrid – about drawing and thinking and exploring – then making it, by hand and inspiration. Even if there’s risk – he goes there. Good teacher to have in any profession; and a powerful rooting for Tom, I’d think.
How do you see that play out? What is he passionate about?
Contemplating, and acting on, design expression, experiment, exploration.
I’ve heard numerous references to his boundless enthusiasm. Do you see that in his life? How?
I’d say stamina – being focused on doing really good things in your chosen profession requires that you stay committed to it. Go at it early, stay at it late. Tom’s like that; he stretches the day to get where he wants to be on a challenge, a solution; it’s reflective of the work, the thinking there.
Do you have a favorite story you could pass along about Tom that you think illustrates a part of who he is?
And finally – now that you have a sense of what I’m after – Is there something a profile of Tom absolutely MUST SAY to truly convey who he is?
I’d offer this one important gesture. Tom is confident, but he’s not arrogant. It’s easy for people to get to a point that they are so famously happy with themselves that they simmer in that space. And they might not go anywhere, after that, with that. The absence of self satisfied arrogant – the sense of the quest; it’s a huge component that is part of my sense of him as a creative. And I say that distinctly – yes, he’s an architect. But more – to our professional realm of holistic design…he’s a Creative.