Friday Five with Architect Bruce Bolander

As a child with talents in drawing and math, Bruce Bolander heard the suggestion, “You should be an architect” so often that he took it to heart, graduating cum laude with a degree in architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1989. In Cal Poly’s workshop, he also learned to make elegant, one-of-a-kind furniture with steel and castoffs. While Bolander designs both residential and commercial structures, his Malibu-based firm specializes in creative offices for film production and editing facilities. Let’s see what inspires him in this week’s Friday Five.

1. My Grandma’s Eames Chair
My grandma, affectionately known as “bamom,” purchased this chair through a decorator friend before I was born. It is an early zenith bucket with the cross base, details I’m familiar with now but had no idea about when playing around it or on it as a child in her home. I’m happy to be its current steward.

2. Anthony Burrill Prints
I can’t remember where I first heard it, but the idea that the design process by nature is optimistic is important to me. Keeping that in mind can be tough in the critical and often negative world of actually trying to get work built. Criticism of course has its place, but these posters make me happy every time I see them. On his site are lots of other posters with strong design and thought provoking messages. They’re an easy choice for decorating kids’ rooms — nice-looking but inexpensive, positive but not cheesy.

3. Vintage Bicycles
From the time I was quite small I loved riding my bike, but probably more than riding my bike I loved taking it apart and putting it back together. The inclination runs in my family — my grandpa spent his retirement going to thrift stores, picking up bikes, and repairing them. A few of those bikes ended up with me before he passed, and I’ve taken up collecting since then. I have some fairly nice pieces, but my favorites are the ones that I’ve cobbled together with my kids for them to ride. Sweet yet worn old pieces that aren’t too precious to be ridden or left out in the rain from time to time. The lines, the colors, the patina, and the memories all inspire me.

4. McMaster-Carr
The McMaster-Carr catalog has been a go-to for me ever since I started making assemblage-based furniture. Getting my first copy felt like a rite of passage. Now everything’s online, but I still like to thumb through the pages of the real thing, perusing the beautiful drawings of beautifully functional objects. Just about anything one really needs can be found here, and most often delivered within a day or two.

5. Oak Trees
Quercus Agrifolia to be specific. This oak is native to the Santa Monica mountains, where i have lived and worked for over 16 years.  Before moving here my opinion of the landscape was that it was spare — not in a good way — and a bit dull and drab.  Since building here, I have spent quite a bit of time running and hiking local trails, and we have planted quite a few oaks on our land that are now just starting to mature. Watching the process and working with the trees has been great fun, and can even be a spiritual experience at times. Ours don’t look like the one in this shot yet, but they might by the time my grandkids are climbing them.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.