AIA Houston’s 2017 Gingerbread Build-off

This past Saturday, the BRAVE team participated in AIA Houston’s annual Gingerbread Build-off. Having taken home the Grand Prix de Show in 2016, we felt the pressure to come up with a unique concept that spoke to our design aesthetic while also having a feeling of playfulness throughout (and hopefully come home as back-to-back champions!).

Inspired by French landscape architect Yves Brunier and using pasta as our main ingredient, we created a pasta house and landscape that was unlike any of the other entries. We used two layers of gingerbread covered in frosting as the base, applied a layer of vanilla fondant on top, and used pushpins to meticulously create a grid on top of the entire surface. We then pre-measured a variety of pastas and hand-placed each in our surface grid to bring our unique vision to a reality.

The competition was tough and, unfortunately, we did not come home with the ultimate prize. We did, however, have a great time in the process! Thanks to AIA Houston for another knockout Gingerbread event.

Scroll through the gallery to see our team, our process, and final product!

Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Inventive Marille Pasta

In 1983, Voiello, a subsidiary of the well-known Barilla Pasta, retained the Italian industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to design a new shape of pasta. Giugiaro, a prolific car designer among whose designs one finds the De Tomaso Mangusta, the BMW M1 and the infamous DeLorean, accepted the challenge.

The food manufacturer from Naples required that the pasta not absorb too much sauce, that it increase its volume in water, that a dish of Marille weigh about half of a dish of spaghetti, and that in the midst of the nouvelle cuisine craze, that it be eye-catching. Also, they demanded that, like with any good pasta, it should retain the sauce. Adhering to Neapolitan pasta tradition, the outer side of the pasta shell was to be left smooth.

For the project, one can easily say that the designer “engineered” the pasta, the same way he engineered many of his other products. The pasta, Giugiaro said, is all about structure, much like a car. Each shape of pasta is designed to be the vehicle to certain types of sauces. One may even say that pasta is but the vehicle for the sauce – or as Christopher Hitchens once brilliantly said in reference to what Perrier soda was to his Whisky, the “ideal delivery agent.”

But back to pasta… As we know, there are shapes conducive to light, oily, or creamy sauces. Others are best suited to carry heavier ones such as Ragus or Bologneses. Voiello opted to hire Giorgetto Giugiaro based on his technological experience with the processes of industrial production. Giugiaro, once at work, opted for a continuously extruded shape, pulled through draw plates.

The food manufacturer had considered Bruno Munari, another of the great industrial designers from Italy – imagine the uproar and the utter marketing failure the pasta would have been if the firm had chosen a designer from another country for their pasta. The Marille was introduced to the public during a lavish event at the Domus Center in Milan, a vernissage designed and produced by Alessandro Mendini.

Like some of Giugiaro’s car designs, reportedly a Lamborghini and one for the manufacturer Bugatti, the pasta was a total failure. Many blame its demise, not to Giugiaro’s design, but on the fact that the Marille’s initial distribution was limited to just a few places and people were not able to find it. Others say that the pasta cooking time was considerably longer than that of other pastas. Worse yet, there were reports of its complex curves hindering an even “al dente” perfection.

The Marille was not among Giorgetto Giugiaro’s many accomplishments. Nevertheless, he took it wisely, once saying, “…but I owe my popular fame to the Marille; It even got me published in Newsweek”.

Other designs by Giugiaro include Cars for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Lancia, Lexus, Bugatti, Mazda, Porsche, Fiat, Toyota and For, among other, plus Seiko watches, Beretta firearms, Nikon Cameras, and Ducati and Suzuki motorcycles.

IIDA Product Runway 2016

This spring, BRAVE/Architecture participated in the IIDA’s fundraising event Product Runway and was recognized with the Best New Arrival Award! B/A’s design challenge and art movement for this year was Kinetic Art and Alexander Calder. Our concept designs, which began in February, can be seen in previous blog entries. The final design is a lenticular abstraction of Calder’s mobile with a layering of pleats, allowing the rigid structure of the pleats to move more freely… READ MORE

ZUI- Shotgun Chameleon

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to be given a tour of the Shotgun Chameleon by the designer – and former BRAV-ite – Zui Ng. It’s immediately clear from the outside that it stands apart from its neighbors, but the difference is experienced on the inside as well. All plywood walls encase the family in a warm interior while specific window locations create the “framed art” that would otherwise hang on the walls. The view from the living room toward the street… READ MORE

Product Runway 2016.2

LENTICULAR “Pleat-scape”
charrette no.2

Movement = Visual Transformation
Pleats, Planes, Canvas, & Vantage Point.

How to make pleat?
Pleat and dress form?

Product Runway 2016


charrette no.1
“Transition” as driving concept.
Think of the stages of change – multiple phases of change.
Litertal to abstract. Abstract to literal.
Calder to abstract. Abstract to Calder.
How to make the transitions work with the hard & soft materials?
Color = Black, White, Grey, and one accent color (Calder uses primary colors)

B/A : 10/10

This photographic post follows Brave/Architecture during a 24 hour period. Everyone was tasked with recording two images during October 10th. Each image was taken during two separate one-hour periods recording a specific moment in each person’s day. It is a glimpse into our history during one day on this world.

From Dallas to Houston

Biding my time in a window seat I thought I’d play a little bit with the tilt shift. It’s always interesting to witness everyday urban and rural logistics from above. From exhaust distortions to rigid geometries and incomplete roads we can witness the paced process of development.

Caran D’Ache, King Of Pencils!

Recently, I was assembling a number of drawing instruments to show my students what I considered good design tools. In doing so, I pulled my old Caran D’Ache Fixpencil 22 (Swiss Made!) from an old box of tools. I keep that pencil since my days as an architecture student in Buenos Aires. Since I did not have any 2B lead refills, which is the hardness I recommend to young designers, I set to the Internet to order some.
While looking at various websites, I discovered Caran D’Ache had recently released a commemorative version of the fabulous pencil. To mark its 100th anniversary, and among other commemorative pieces, the Maison Caran d’Ache issued a limited edition of the iconic Fixpencil 22. Designed and first released in 1929, the Fixpencil is the first mechanical pencil ever equipped with the Maison’s patented unique clutch mechanism.
Just like the original model, the new Fixpencil 22 comes equipped with a lead sharpener. The commemorative edition also sports architectural scales in inches and centimeters, and comes with a tube of extra colored leads.
With renewed enthusiasm, I will use both—new and old at every opportunity!

The Work of Eladio Dieste

Uruguayan engineer, architect and master builder Eladio Dieste (1917-2000), whose oeuvre comprises a large number of buildings of refined elegance, is credited with the introduction of a thin-shell structure for roofs in double-thickness brick he called the Gaussian vault. These elements derive their structural qualities from a double curvature catenary arch form that resists buckling failure. Many of the techniques… READ MORE