James Brown

@ Owner, Bread and Salt

I came to SDSU School of Art and Design Interior Architecture in the spring of 2018 to assist in the creation of a new way of thinking for our department and the entire Art + Design school. Our school has the opportunity to be a regional and cross border hub for design research. We can and will become one of the important places in the academic world. Our profession is at a crossroad between the old standards of instruction and the opportunity of a new pedagogy that challenges old norms and better prepares our students for a stimulating and diverse practice. Our talented faculty and rarified facilities set us apart towards the fulfillment of this goal. Our school might strive to combine design research, horizon technologies, and craft, making the most of what we already possess while forging new approaches and previously hidden collaborations. My career spans the fields of furniture making, public and gallery art, interior architecture, teaching, architecture, construction, and community building. I do not always draw distinct lines between these fields – instead, they complement, inform and cajole each other as well as ultimately strengthen the design solution. My many years of combined practice are intricately linked with community and the theory and practice of learning. For most of my private practice career I have taught design and architecture at accredited schools of architecture and design. I have been a faculty member at the NewSchool of Architecture, and later at Woodbury University from their founding at Liberty Station in 1998. Both of these early appointments were undergraduate level instruction, teaching core 6 unit design studios. In 2016 I returned to NewSchool as a graduate level studio instructor before beginning my SDSU teaching career in the spring of 2019. Since joining Art + Design I have been active in leading students to design spaces on campus through the Beautification Committee, and have engaged several SDSU students as interns through my architectural firm Public. I have a desire to put my experience and energy behind a new way of learning that has roots in design, craft and theory. Recently, on November 18th, I was invited to a present the story of Bread & Salt, the community arts building that my wife Isabel Dutra and I have built over the past 10 years. In the Pecha Kucha presentation, which was sponsored by the San Diego Architectural Foundation, I raised the notion that 10 years is tantamount to a lifetime of work towards a profession. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 hours, or about 10 years of focused learning, to become an expert in one’s field. Perhaps ‘expert’ is an exaggeration, but certainly one can gain some ground on problem solving or even in the creation of a dream. At the talk I further explained that after we gain professional experience, we all have about 4-5 more lifetimes left in which to create entirely new worlds both for ourselves and for those around us. I want to put the same effort, dedication, work ethic, and love towards supporting and improving the Interior Architecture program at the School of Art + Design that I first applied to Public Architecture and then Bread & Salt. I aspire for my work to matter, and I believe in the faculty, the administration, the facilities, and especially the students at Art and Design. My architectural design work at Public is varied and very concerned with affordable housing models. The projects are experimental in the way that they challenge zoning and planning constraints with the goal of creating affordable and duplicable strategies for other designers and developers. I began my career as a furniture maker, and gradually worked my way into commercial interior and house remodel design, full single family homes, and eventually urban infill mixed use projects that integrate public art. Another interest within my architectural and pedagogical practice is designing within means. For me this equates to being a responsible world citizen, and learning to live smaller and with less. I try and pass on this interest to my students.