A history lesson learned

God I hated history in school. I’m sorry Mr. Albanese. You made the class awesome, and fun. But I was just absolutely not into it. There were flashes, moments if you will, where I was engaged. But i feel like all of those moments related to when Brooke Clair flipped her hair or smiled in my general direction. History sucked. Past-tense.

If I have learned nothing from being a designer, it is to not just learn from, but also copy-paste, xerox, cut-glue, and flat out swipe whatever I can from those before me. The learnings. The styles. The processes. Just make it all yours. Syphon it in like you are Neo slurping down jujitsu through a Matrix straw, and when you are done, pass it left.

History, has taught me plenty of lessons in my old age. I’ve accepted who I am as a designer. I am not some uber-meta game changer. My last name will not join the ranks of Rand, Eames, Wright, etc. This is an important self-realization every designer should make. I do believe I have the skills to be a starter, mind you, even Trent Dilfer won a Superbowl. No, I am more of a tracer. I see. I love. I adapt. I refresh. Learning this about myself, has lead to my love of old. With all the advancements in the new, kids today will struggle going back just in their own lifetime. An issue only Sam Beckett could truly understand.

But while laser focus on your trade makes you exemplary (and kind of typecast if you ask me), it’s understanding and solving for the past that makes for good TV. Doctors need to know EVERYTHING about you in order to treat you correctly. Lawyers and police play both sides of the coin in solving crimes. Juries need to comprehend which side is the truth. Lives are held at stake. Relationships grow (or crumble). THINK. Every time we see an accident, our immediate thought is what’s happened here? as our brain tries to fill in the gaps of understanding to account for what it sees. History (gray) matters.

Fast forward. Present day. Everything I was ever proud of creating, is due in large part to the amount of research I put behind it. Which is why I am very, very excited to enter into my latest project partnership with a little building in the West End. Let’s just call her Regina. Regina del West. Theoretically built in 1875, Regina has a story. 3 to be exact. and 4600 sq ft of wood, brick and sandstone. Upon her head she wears a crown, visible from the long stretches of i-75 northbound, as well as the vestiges of Union Terminal. I have walked a mile inside Regina already. Her eyes heavy, her wooden brow weary from years. And while the billboard facetted to her head surely assured her life long-lasting in servitude to the Mad Men gods. I will rejuvenate her. Remind her of her beauty. Spark a suburb clinging onto the lifeblood of its neighbors. Regina will be alive and a beacon of shining hope that was once dead, left to rot, abused and misunderstood. Will. Rule. Again.

The West End never left.

But it sure as hell is making a return.

Regina del West was home to cattle herders, confectioners, and cabinet makers. It’s spurned lasting love and housed those when love was lost. It was a safe house for a printer and his brother, the musician, who introduced him to his future wife. Regina saw a man change his name because it was hard to pronounce (no it wasn’t German). She watched a young beer maker grow. Tailors, stenographers, phone operators, laborers, box makers, plasters, porters, cashiers, molders, carpenters, finishers, packers, cigar dealers, drivers, truck men and a chiropractor traipsed through her halls before the calendars hit 1941. Oh the stories in Regina’s walls. Walls that have been put up. Walls that have come down. But walls that will stand strong long after my chapter is written in them. Walls that I will hug, and call home.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, my Regina del West.


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