Lawrence Grown

Author: Lawrence Grown, design
Credits: Nikolas Diamant, After Effects rendering

I studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati. I was highly influenced by the work of Antonio Gaudi and Santiago Calatrava. A noteworthy project was a skyscraper studio where I modeled a set of buildings on the anatomy of an amphioxus lanclet. During my time in school I worked for various firms but was most impressed with Michael Reynolds, Earthship architect. I helped him write his first Earthship book and built a demonstration shelter on the University of Cincinnati campus with a crew, as an architecture course for credit. My senior thesis project was a south-facing sustainable hill town community modeled on sea fan coral, and built partly with rammed-earth tires.

When I moved to California, I had a part time job with Eugene Tsui where I contributed to the "Fish House" by adding a sailfin entry structure and designing an internal cable support system and cove lighting for a central spiral ramp.

My main job was at Ohmega Salvage, where I was intending to learn about repurposing in architecture. However, I fell in love with lighting. I started making lamps and repairing antiques as a hobby, which became a business.

I founded Metro Lighting in 1993. I'm the creative director responsible for most of the new product development. We utilize repurposed materials whenever possible and have won numerous awards for our sustainable practices. For example, our rooftop solar array produces 100% of our electrical needs. Our line of glass shades are upcycled liquor bottles, cleaned, cut, and polished. Another line is made from recycled cast glass. Other lamps and fixtures utilize used bike rims, brake rotors, and barbells. We build our metal fixtures on site and make our glass in various studios in Northern California.

Through the years I've served on many boards and committees in our daughters' schools. Through that work I've learned many skills in leadership and community organizing.

I founded the West Berkeley Design Loop in 2012 to bring together the locally-owned home improvement merchants with the local designers, architects, contractors, and makers to form a design community. I serve as the executive director.

My latest project is the Chilopod, a biomorphic interactive sculpture for Burning Man. My hope is that this is the first in a series of structures that are fun and engagin, but have a deeper message. I want to change the way people see themselves within nature, a part of it, not separate or above it. Only when we see the earth as a living thing, our own life support system, will we truly change the way interact with it. We need to sustaing the life that sustains us, or fail at our peril.

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