Prairie Portrait: Justin Brouillette of MAKE Collaboration
Name: Justin Brouillette
Bio: Master of Architecture graduate with interests in all aspects of design. Married, Believer, Co-Founder of MAKE Collaboration, inventor, and Kickstarter backed.
Title: Designer, Junior Architect, Entrepreneur
Residence: Lincoln, Neb.
Intro music: "Midnight City," by M83.
Silicon Prairie News: Having run a successful Kickstarter campaign for The Prop, what words of wisdom can you offer other people hoping to bring their own good ideas to life through Kickstarter?
Justin Brouillette: We found Kickstarter to both be wonderful and perplexing. The largest challenge is not knowing what you are getting into. Your project may blow up — our project was more successful than we had hoped — and you will get orders from all over the world and most likely have no idea how to fulfill those orders. Ultimately, be very specific about your budgeting, from margins on rewards, to manufacturing quotes, to shipping costs.
SPN: Beyond the Prop, what other exciting projects are in the works for MAKE Collaboration?
JB: Currently, our efforts are getting the Prop and our calendar, the Vertical, to a larger retail audience. It's challenging as we are learning as we go, but those challenges are what make it enjoyable for me. We are contemplating other Kickstarter projects and always looking for new people to work with and for! If you're a buyer, retailers wanted!
SPN: As an architect, what are a couple of fundamental design concepts you use in your work that you also view as important in designing for the web?
JB: My training in architecture has been very fundamental in the way I approach every task. The most important skill-set that translates across all mediums is coined, "Design Thinking." UNL did a wonderful job at preparing us to challenge the norm and re-frame the question of what the problem is — not just starting to design on the given problem. Otherwise, all principles of aesthetics apply — use thirds, hierarchy, repetition in odd numbers, etc.
SPN: "Food Miles," your submission to Emerging Terrain's "Stored Potential 2" was chosen to be displayed on grain elevators overlooking interstate 80 in Omaha (left). Can you describe the motivation for and significance of that piece?
JB: Food Miles was a submission we based on the distance food travels to its end user. Local food sources only travel on average 56 miles versus traditional 1,500~. This ratio, (4 percent less) is highlighted in a swath of real Nebraska land on our banner in orange. Further, we thought of the banner's end use and designed a cut pattern to recycle it into 330-some bags.
SPN: Twitter activity seems to indicate you had pretty high interest in Euro 2012. After watching the tournament unfold over the last month, what do you make of the talk of this Spain group being the greatest team ever?
JB: Yes, I love world class soccer but seem to be quite alone in the middle of America in my enthusiasm for it. Spain was amazing, but I cannot really verify if they are the best ever. The widely regarded "best ever" predecessor was a Brazilian team I was not alive for! I would love to see America find some actual success in the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Don't tell the U.S. team but Brazil is my team; I played with Ronaldo on FIFA 2001 exclusively.
Credits: Brouillette photo courtesy of Brouillette. Food Miles photo from justinbrouillette.com.
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