KDesign | The Jungle – 2016 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract conducted interviews with all firms of all Market Award winning projects from the 2016 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we always like to share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn about the winning projects. These are their stories.

Describe this project in one word.


How does this project demonstrate design impact?

Making an impact on a human psyche is about taking it to a new place and experiencing new feelings and impacting the way of thinking. This project provides a space where new thoughts can flow, where self-exploration is implied or suggested.

Each project is a process. Explain your journey with this space.

There are two spaces, with a communal public hallway which separates them. On one side is the coffee bar and the other is the bar. We opened the spaces with large rolling doors so to make them feel more connected. We also increased the square footage on the bar side, adding a larger bar and stage area. The establishment was already called Jungle Vino / Java Jungle and it was rebranded as The Jungle. There were broken mosaic tiles on the floor and wine corks on the walls, it had a very 90’s coffee bar vibe to it. I took the Jungle concept and morphed it into an urban jungle theme, playing off the concept that we are all animals coming from different parts of the jungle and yet we drink from the same river, which is why the bar area combines blue and brown and the stage and coffee areas are flanked in green and brown. Because this establishment has been around for so long there was a very opinionated cultish following. This provided many obstacles surrounding tension amongst the staff, my client and myself. If ever there was a design that I needed to protect and preserve, this was it. The staff consisted of a collection ofartists who felt that they should have been bestowed the opportunity to design the space themselves. This kind of tension made it difficult to move forward with ease and grace. It was such a blessing that the owner believed in me through thick and thin, and to his benefit it has paid off by increasing his revenue.

The second major hurdle was the budget. I had to determine what would be the major eye capturing elements in the space and allocate funds accordingly. The flooring from Shaw really helped to make this statement, by offering great colors that corresponded with my urban jungle theme and didn’t demand too much of my budget. The rest was improvisation, meaning I had to fill in the gaps myself by rolling up my sleeves and making the lights, artwork, some furniture and a massive installation. I recruited some of the staff to help with the painting portion of the large ‘live-tie wall’ in hopes that this would help them to feel involved as they had so desired. I installed the neck ties in varying colors of green as a pun on urban foliage. I reached out to local artisans for varying items; I located these people through a community work room which offers tools and space to local artists/artisans based on a bartering system. One artisan was in charge of building and installing a tree which was essentially integrated into the concrete post and beams equipped with mood lighting. Another artisan let me use his CNC machine to cut out table leaves which I used to build side tables that look like small trees. In terms of payment I was able to call on a favor from a plumber who donated a bunch of pipe to one of the artisans for the use of the community workroom. I in turn hand sewed a costume for the plumber for Burning Man. This project pushed me to find alternative ways to ensure it all came together. There were countless hours on my part in the form of donation to the cause, what cause you may ask… turning my dream into a reality, included with blood, sweat and tears. The tension within the space amongst the staff still remained intact despite my efforts of inclusion, until I put the finishing touches on the tie installation. I wrote numerical frequencies onto the ties that contained frequencies such as forgiveness,peace, love, laughter, and removal of fear, clarity, community, and many more. Once these frequencies were installed the entire energy of the space began its renovation. Essentially the difficult personalities were either asked to leave or left on their own and new beautiful people filled their places. The space is now cherished and loved by the patrons, staff and performers alike. The intention for the space was toembody an environment where people could come together and think outside of the box, to collaborateand share inspiration, to push the boundaries that are superimposed on our daily lives.

Tell us about any challenges or lessons learned from working on this project.

There were many challenges or as I like to think of them opportunities to grow and expand within thisproject. Timing is everything in life and this project came at a time when I had no staff, I was completelysolo. I was able to get dirty and work with my hands and find thrifty ways to make authentic statementswhich encompassed the overall character of the space and the refreshed brand. Although I was tested inso many ways about my design intent I remained steadfast in my beliefs and even dug deeper to makesure the pulse of it was strong and balanced. It is a blessing to be a visionary, it is a constant testament to the core intent behind actions – people aren’t comfortable with change and they challenge theboundaries collapsing around them whilst simultaneously gasping for more expansion on a soulful level. Once the dust clears and the new is intact there is an adjustment period and then ease sets in and myintention is that they feel a renewed sense of purpose. I had to remind myself that their struggle was not my own and that my visions stem from love, balance and progression.

On trends: Is there anything in particular with this project that is reflective of current culture/society?

The current social climate is dark and it is time for some light, I think that creating spaces that encourage people to ponder existential solutions will help sculpt the future. Instead of being reactionary we should start to navigate ourselves and explore new ideas. Utilizing our community/resources to get things accomplished rather than solely on money is a great way to focus on the importance and value that weeach have in this life. The only boundaries are those that we place on ourselves. In summation I would categorize this movement as Reinventing Beatnik.

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