Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Deck is done!

After many a long day (and night) of manual labor, Dan and I have finally finished the deck! Grounded Design Studio's first design/build job for some great clients in Columbus, OH. A big thanks to them for their patience and for picking us for the job. We also wanna say thanks to everybody who helped by lending some time, or some tools, to the job.
We're quite happy with how it turned out, and we hope it gets some good use before the cold weather sets in. We'll have to post more pics later showing the firepit in use .
Let us know if you like it (or you want us to build one for you!).
For more pics (of the final product, and the building process) please visit this link:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dan recognized as emerging Sustainability Leaders

Design Professionals Honored as Emerging Sustainability Leaders

NORCROSS, GA – The Design Futures Council has selected a half-dozen professionals for its 2009 class of Emerging Leaders. These individuals will receive registration scholarships to attend the eighth annual Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in Chicago September 30 – October 2.

The Design Futures Council is an interdisciplinary network of design, product, and construction leaders exploring global trends, challenges, and opportunities to advance innovation and shape the future of the industry and environment. Members include leading architecture and design firms, building product manufacturers, and service providers that take an active interest in their future.

One of the Design Futures Council's missions is to identify and recognize emerging leaders who are having—and will increasingly have—a profound impact on design practices, design professions, and the community. The Emerging Leaders scholarship program, now in its third year, addresses this goal by selecting individuals who represent the future of design practice in terms of its broadening scope, service to society, sustainable design, and technological innovation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Localvore Potluck

Two weekends ago Grounded Design hosted a Localvore Potluck at their studio. What's a localvore you might ask?

Wikipedia says, "The locavore movement is increasingly important in the United States and elsewhere as interest in sustainability and eco-consiousness become more prevalent.[1] Those who are interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market, are called "locavores," and the word "locavore" is the word of the year for 2007 for the Oxford American Dictionary.[2] This word was the creation of Jessica Prentice of the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of World Environment Day, 2005.[3] It is rendered "localvore" by some, depending on regional differences, usually.[4][5] The food may be grown in home gardens or grown by local commercial groups interested in keeping the environment as clean as possible and selling food close to where it is grown. Some people consider food grown within a 100-mile radius of their location local, while others have other definitions. In general the local food is thought by those in the movement to taste better than food that is shipped long distances.[1]

Farmers' markets play a role in efforts to eat what is local.[6] Preserving food for those seasons when it is not available fresh from a local source is one approach some locavores include in their strategies. Living in a mild climate can make eating locally grown products very different from living where the winter is severe or where no rain falls during certain parts of the year.[7] Those in the movement generally seek to keep use of fossil fuels to a minimum, thereby releasing less carbon dioxide into the air and preventing greater global warming. Keeping energy use down and using food grown in heated greenhouses locally would be in conflict with each other, so there are decisions to be made by those seeking to follow this lifestyle. Many approaches can be developed, and they vary by locale.[8] Such foods as spices, chocolate, or coffee pose a challenge for some, so there are a variety of ways of adhering to the locavore ethic.[9]"

So ya, we at Grounded Design Studio decided to become localvores and invited our friends to join us. Guests were asked to bring anything farmed, fermented, produced, foraged, brewed locally. We got a great array of local beer, local wine, peaches, blueberries, peach compote, potato curry salad, blueberry ice cream, blueberry red wine sorbet, pizza with local ingredients, corn/bean/pepper salsa, potato and zucchini chips (who knew there are pink and purple potatoes), tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, mint tea, fudge, and cookies. Yum Yum to my tum tum! It was a great time, and we hope to continue the localvore potlucks in the near future. If you are interested in joining us or would like to host it at your house, let us know! Here are a few pictures of the food from the potluck. We unfortunately got so excited about the food that we forgot to take pictures of the actual people who came. Thanks so much to everyone who came!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Green Thoughts

We’re so Green right now it hurts. Here's the sarcastic version. Green means just keep doing things the way you’re doin’ ‘em. Be less bad. Put a recycling bin next to your trash can. The system works, we’ve just gotta tweak it a little. Don’t really question where it came from or where it’s going. Use less gas. Pollute less. Act nicer and put happy stickers on your bumper about changing the world one plastic bag at a time.

Green isn’t a solution, it’s a step. Right now, it’s a small step.
I’m not saying it’s not worth doing, but lets call it what it is, a small step towards a radically different mindset. Green is not sustainable. Let me say that again. Green is not sustainable. Sustainable is just that, sustainable. It can sustain itself. Indefinitely. It doesn’t need 1,000,000 gallons of foreign oil, water from someone else’s state, or food from someone else’s country. Or maybe it does, but if that’s the case our borders will have to be a lot looser and our politicians a lot friendlier.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Everybody's got kites -
Just a few more pics from Kid's Kite Day in Chicago.

Dragon Kite -
This one's for Japan Dan. Inspired? by his drawing here. Scroll down his page to see Dan's Dragon Kite. It's a little more impressive.

So I went to Kite Day. It was great! Too long since I'd spent an afternoon out in the sun just enjoying life. Along with a jillion other people, most of 'em tryin' to get a kite into the air. The day was lovely, mostly sunny, 65, and quite windy! Unfortunately, I didn't have a kite of my own, so I just had to watch.
Here's that little story again for those a you who didn't see it: "Reminds me of the time Dad took me out to that big open park to fly kites when I was a kid.
Higher and higher it goes. Out of string. Tie on another roll. Higher still. Scared, I think it might pull me away into the sky. Out of string again. No more string! Now what? How ‘bout this roll of fishin’ wire? Yeah, that’ll work, just tie it like – sproing! No! It’s gone, it’s free! Run! Follow it, don’t let it get away!
Then standing there looking up at it caught in that tree. It’s gotta be at least a million feet up. Maybe a mile.
Guess we’re done for today huh, Dad?
To which my Dad said - I remember that day like it was yesterday. I pulled a hamstring chasin' that kite.

Friday, May 1, 2009

So the website is officially done, but we still have some tweaking that we'd like to do to keep it interesting. Here's a sneak preview of another collaborative sketch that just might make its way onto the background of our site soon.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today wasn't a Grounded day really, it was an ADPSR day. And a very good one it was at that! We spent the whole day working with kids at the Betty Shabazz school here in Chicago. Thanks to our fellow collaborators, Black Oaks (, we were invited to participate in the Earth Day celebrations at the school. We got to teach 3 groups of 5th through 8th graders why it's important to track and understand how the sun moves in the sky, and shadows move on the ground. We talked about the passive solar heating of buildings and how sun access affects the layout of a garden. It was fun getting the kids to participate in little informative demonstrations - marking shadow movements with sidewalk chalk over the course of the day - going inside into the dark and using a flashlight to simulate the sun moving across the sky - finding out what their favorite vegetables are to see where to plant 'em. After all that, they laid out tires, railroad ties and mulch to start the work on their own school garden (facing mostly South of course). Granted, this picture of a buncha tires doesn't quite capture the energy of the day (and man do those kids have energy!), but I wanna make sure it's ok with the school before we post any of the great photos we have of the real action.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Da first one

What’s aauuuhhhpp everybody?!
So Dan, Jamie and I (I being Brian) are finally getting this blog rollin’. We, of course, are the collective also known as Grounded Design Studio ( and the Chicago reps of ADPSR (Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility – But this blog is a bit more personal. Here you can find us cuttin’ loose, thinkin’ aloud, ranting, expressing, sharing, and hopefully posting a whole lotta cool sketches. Speakin’ of which, here’s the story behind those nifty little check boxes in the top right corner of Grounded’s site:
One day the three of us were having a pretty serious meeting, discussing our website and trying to make some progress on getting this ship off the ground. It had been a bit of a long day staring at pieces of paper and glowing computer screens. We were all getting tired, and rather than being productive we were more like starting to get on each other’s nerves. So one of us started sketching on the big piece of trace paper in front of us. Then another. Then all three of us had lapsed into silence and were doodling away! After awhile we stopped, and somebody suggested rotating the paper around and continuing to sketch on top of the next person’s drawing. We soon realized that this little exercise not only helped us relieve stress, but also gave us exactly what we were looking for as a background for our website!