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Interview with Trevor Dykstra – Certified Seattle Design Nerd

Trevor is a licensed architect and certified Seattle Design Nerd. In addition to his extensive design build experience and many competition awards, he was once a steel fabricator in Montana, a design app developer, and has recently been instrumental in designing, organizing and constructing the Seattle Design Festival’s outdoor installations & programming from 2011 to present. He co-founded the Seattle Design Nerds, an all volunteer force for pop-up design in Seattle’s urban spaces. He is passionate about contingent space, urban exploration, and experimental forms of architecture. He has spent the last two years researching and exhibiting examples of tactical urbanism; most recently at Portland State University.

Q: Design Change is…

A: I know many see this year’s theme as a reflection of our changing city but to me “Design Change” is just as much about designs that are ever shifting. When I think of change I think of the work of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, the shifting and morphing buildings of Neil Spiller or Mas Yendo, or the MIT Media Lab logo and its 40,000 possible permutations.

Q: What’s the big opportunity for design in Seattle?

A: When we’re talking about public space I really feel that the waterfront is our ‘once in a generation’ design project. Having said that, I also feel how we handle the systemic impacts brought on by growth; housing, transit, public space, social equity, income inequality, and more, are our biggest opportunities for change in the design community.

Q: How did you get into design? What led you to do what you do?

A: I’ve known I would be an architect since I was a pre-teen when I started taking drafting courses alongside artistic ones. I never really questioned that I would be doing something that exercised my creativity and I think the idea that I might be able to create art on the scale of a building really pulled me into this industry. That desire for expression still drives what I do; it could be argued that the Design Nerds is really as much a public art project as it is a design organization.

Q: Thinking about the next 10 years of how design will change, what is one word you’d use?

A: Systemic.

Q: If design education could change, how do you want it to?

A: I’m forever grateful to the few professors who encouraged us to make full size prototypes of our ideas; those experiments really informed my belief in learning and thinking by ‘doing’. When we were asked to collaborate in school it routinely led to an exercise in consensus building rather than a true exploration of diverse ideas. With the Seattle Design Nerds we’ve found that the act of creating rapid tangible prototypes can teach you so much more than a circular discussion. By structuring our meetings as a series of full scale experiments it allows everyone to stay engaged with the topic and can open up new possibilities as we work through the real world problems of creation.

Learn more about Trevor’s work:
Seattle Design Nerds
Twitter  – @archibot / @DesignNerds_SEA
Instagram  – @architecturegeek / @seattledesignnerds
Facebook  – /SeattleDesignNerds