My life became consumed with all things Iceland last month when I purchased a plane ticket to present the community design work of Epicenter at Design March, Iceland’s annual design conference. I’ve always been fascinated by the films, art, literature, and music of Iceland, and now I have a focused reason to continue my research of their culture. My bedside table is packed with books on Iceland’s sagas, folklore, architecture, and history.
When my paternal grandfather passed away, my father inherited all of his bizarre and beautiful furniture. My favorite piece was a gaming table designed in an Italian Baroque style. At first glance, the table appears to just be an ornate card table, but when you lift the tabletop there is beautiful green felt for playing card games held within. As a child, the next step blew my mind, when you lift up the felt piece, a fully functioning roulette wheel was revealed. There’s something about mysterious objects that reveal themselves to you piece by piece. You begin to imagine the previous owners and users utilizing the furniture, partying and having a great time together, maybe getting into a fight over some cash, or hurriedly closing up the gambling table when the police stop by because the music was too loud.
It may be conceited, but my favorite building in Utah is the Epicenter building in Green River. In 2009, me and my college architecture school colleague and I moved to Green River to create a community design center. Our first project was to purchase, raise funds for, and renovate a century-old building with our our own hands and resources. The building had sat vacant for over a decade and was previously a billiards room, so it was quite the challenge to renovate. Four years later, the building now acts as the Epicenter headquarters — a studio of sorts, housing all of our programs, staff, artists-in-residence, office space, basement workshop, and all the tools you need to build a house. Everyday I get to work in my favorite building in Utah and think about the literal blood, sweat, and tears, we poured into it and the volunteers who helped out. Ultimately, it’s why I’m in Green River.