A Design First Approach to DIY with HomeMade Modern's Ben Uyeda

This week we are talking with Ben Uyeda.  Find out how Ben went from designing high end homes with his own architecture firm to showing how anyone can build aspirational furniture, and afford it, on YouTube.

TOPICS

  • Building a sword [04:01]
  • Finding inspiration to build from books [06:24]

  • How our identities limit our ability to create. [08:21}

  • Ben's background in martial arts. [10:33]

  • The mindset that got him into Cornell [13:19]

  • Starting Zero Energy Design [15:29]

  • Importance of Sustainable design [17:58]

  • Tech vs cultural problem of solar [20:15]

  • Why we all have it made [23:15]

  • Online Distribution vs High End Clients [24:39]

  • Why YouTube wasn't the end goal [26:52]

  • Why furniture [28:43]

  • Lowest Common Design [29:03]

  • Ben's favorite project [30:39]

  • What people misunderstand in Ben's work [33:07]

LINKS


TRANSCRIPT

Brandon:: Alrighty we want to welcome you guys back to the make or break show we are hanging out with Ben Uyeda today you are in Boston? Are you in Boston right now?

Ben Uyeda: Right now I'm in Boston and just enjoying... well the start of fall is still still able to work a little bit outside but it's it's turning fast.

Ben Uyeda: Yeah. What's the temperature right now?

Ben Uyeda: The 50s OK.

Brandon:: Me and my wife went to Boston for the first time last November and so we're from east of Atlanta and it was starting to get.. for us like pretty cold. And so we're like walking around and like I can't do this like this. This place is really cold. It's pretty cold.

Ben Uyeda: Well I've been mostly based out of here for a little over 10 years so it's just starting to get used to it now.

Brandon:: It takes about 10 years?

Ben Uyeda: Yeh.

Brandon:: That's good as well. Well we're excited to have you on. And I know you've got a really unique story to the folks that we mostly we have on here. Especially on the major side of things. And I was listening to one of your interviews and kind of wanted to started when you were growing up and you were talking about building a is like a sword... I think. Was that right? How did that that go and was like growing up and making like for you?

Building a Sword as a Kid

Ben Uyeda: Well I grew up in a family of sort of very modest means so making was often just a way of getting things that we otherwise couldn't afford. And I think like when I was like somewhere between like 11 or 12 I really wanted to have a sword because you know swords are awesome. And it was interesting because you know this was before YouTube or anything like that. So for some reason I felt like I could make one. But back then you had to sort of you know go to the library and check out a book. Our local library was pretty small. We couldn't really find anything on my forging or blacksmithing so it took a while to kind of find things so we were kind of just guessing from watching like movies and stuff like that.

Ben Uyeda: So I really didn't know when you think about different types of metal. So I very quickly learned that you know aluminum doesn't work. And the guy at the hardware store told me oh you got to use steel because it's harder I still don't know anything about like carbon content or anything like that.

Ben Uyeda: I had this like rough idea that if you heated up steel hammered it and then like quenched it it would make it harder. I didn't I didn't really know any of this sort of science behind it.

Ben Uyeda: So then I sort of did find a book that showed how to build your own forge. And so I built a forge out of cinder blocks and hairdryers and like tin pipe you know like this sort of HVAC pipe and I was able to heat up the steel really hot. Had an old piece of a railroad track uses an anvil and just had like a bar of steel from like Ace Hardware or something like that. Totally inappropriate for knife making or sort of making.

Brandon:: How old are you during this?

Ben Uyeda: Probably like 11 or 12.

Ben Uyeda: And so it was like hammering it out and able to sort of flatten it a little bit.

Ben Uyeda: And so that felt like progress and I had a belt sander so I knew I could shape it with that. And the patio blew up because there was moisture in the concrete.

And I had just set up with this bricks and stuff right on the concrete and so that expanded and to this day there's still like a nice little chunk missing out of that...my parents concrete patio.

Brandon:: Oh that's nuts, that's crazy. So is that just kind of part of your childhood like it just always kind of tinkering and building with stuff?

Finding inspiration to build from books.

Ben Uyeda: and I still do it for me it came I think the interest started from literature, right. I think reading anything like Little House On The Prairie books to Swiss Family Robinson or Robinson Crusoe it always seemed to me there was an adventure in sort of making and I was always felt like a little bit resentful that there wasn't is such a clear imperative in our sort of suburban life.

Ben Uyeda: And I think at that age too when you're kind of like struggling with do you know why what is what are sort of like the greater reasons why we should study hard and get good grades. I think there is a time when I was sort of envious of a sort of a simpler lifestyle that was sort of removed from sort of esoteric struggle that it just seemed like OK if your life is like... got to take care these animals got to grow this food got to do these things. It just seems so clear and pragmatic and it seemed like any time you were using ingenuity there was a really clear use for it it wasn't just about sort of self elevation for some other type of approval or these kind of more intangible rungs of a ladder that you're climbing for some sort of weird business or sort of lifestyle goal.

Brandon:: Yeah.

Ben Uyeda: It just felt very concrete and tangible. And so I think that you know reading books like that sort of being intrigued by that kind of lifestyle sort of led me to sort of experiment.

Ben Uyeda: And you know it and quickly realized that there wasn't really a practical use. So I came to that dilemma all the time or is the better you get at making stuff. But like you can probably get a better or more functional version that's mass produced for cheaper.

Ben Uyeda: So that's where I started I think became interested in design because well then had to find a reason to justify the creation of things in my own mind. And simple sort of functional usage was was a difficult goal to have.

Brandon:: Yeh.

How our identities limit our ability to create

Brandon:: The design piece especially if you just go through all of your YouTube stuff is this it's incredible and will definitely get into like the simplicity and the aesthetic is there and so on and I know for me I always feel limited by.. I need to buy this like a new tool so I can do this make this thing and then I see you when your videos pop up and like.. yeah I had a saw and a drill I just made this amazing stool... and I'm like dangit, like this is really cool.

Ben Uyeda: Yeah. I think that's also a result of sort of identity. Right. If you think of yourself as a maker you're going to or a woodworker you're going to sort of that's sort of foundational. That's that's that's almost you know it's for people that are really into it that probably be like one of the first things they describe about themselves.

Ben Uyeda: And in that description they're also thinking of all the other people that they associate with that term woodworker or maker. And with all those people they think about the things that they typically do all these sort of cultural norms for that kind of like identity. And so it's really hard. I think if you if you have this strong identity and it's important to you and you have strong association with other people that also share that it's really hard to sort of think outside that.

Brandon:: Yeah.

Ben Uyeda: And that becomes the box that people are in. Whereas for me you know my my own struggles are more of thinking you know are more sort of self-identifying as a designer for so long with a background in architecture as you know the things I'm sort of self-defeating on in sort of limiting are that you know this isn't really that unique or that new or that novel or it's too novel or it's too gimmicky and things like that. But yeah we all create those hurdles for us. But the more we're aware of them the more we can intentionally break them.

Brandon:: So I was listening to the Modern Maker Podcast which is which has been awesome and its a blast. And you guys had the question like who would beat someone in a fight. And I don't know if you mentioned it but I was doing some background stuff on you like you did martial arts, for real like you toured around and listen to that and like I would have taken Ben regardless of your limitations because you started school later because because of that?

Ben Uyeda:

Ben Uyeda: Yes. Yes so I did karate and Jujitsu from a pretty young age and it was it was great. It was another one of those things where I was intrigued by the subject matter of it but constantly kind of annoyed by what I felt like at that time were a lot of kind of dishonest presentations of it. And you know in particular I mean there was a day before like the UFC and all that stuff where there is this idea that people that knew kung fu and karate could actually fight and then UFC happens and that quickly sort of dispelled.

Brandon:: Yeah.

Ben Uyeda: And so I spent a lot of time in more sort of traditional martial arts. I had always enjoyed the more competitive sort of sport karate and more kickboxing type of activities a bit more because they felt like a meritocracy it wasn't just who got in first on this site pyramid scheme of...white people with pony tails practicing Eastern mysticism. So I was interested in the sort of meritocracy of sport as it related to my fighting and martial arts but didn't fully do it all the way was really good a sort of sport karate which is more like medium..to a little bit a full contact every once in a while and was good at it but there wasn't a lot of money in it.

Ben Uyeda: I traveled around, I won a lot but became sort of more disenfranchised when I realized that you know for most martial arts their belt systems are totally don't mean anything.

Ben Uyeda: They're about yeah....

Ben Uyeda: It's like having like you know a credential to be like a minister or something online. Sure you can do a wedding now or something like that but it doesn't really mean that you studied anything in great depth or that you're necessarily good at anything. So it was fun. It was nice to learn how to be good at something. But I think it was one of the first times where it made me very skeptical of sort of just institutional kind of credentials like I always made me you know want to take them out and make sure that they're being tested in some sort of you know competitive environment that was more of a meritocracy.

Brandon:: So going from your background... and you went to Cornell. Was that ever was ever a point where you were that wasn't even like on your radar like the fact that because I know you to community college first and then it was like I thought like man he'd like went to Cornell and he got his master's and then he was teaching. Were you always like yeah like you had confidence in your ability. Like I want I want to go where the best place is like how is that for you?

The mindset to get into Cornell.

Ben Uyeda: I think that confidence in achievement I was never a person that thought I could do anything. But once once I tried it and saw that oh I can do it. Then I was I could extrapolate one step beyond that I was never a person who said oh I can be president and I can be an astronaut or something like that because those would be like five to 10 steps away from where it currently was. But I was always someone that sought what that wasn't that hard. I can do I can extrapolate from that previous achievement. So yeah. And I never thought I was going to go to a really great school.

Ben Uyeda: You know my parents didn't go to college. So you know I took some classes at City College when I saw this sort of martial arts and various sort of construction and service industry jobs weren't really going to take me anywhere that I wanted to be.

Ben Uyeda: And once I took classes at community college I was like well this isn't that hard. I can do this and then just kept taking the steps from there. And. You know kind of you know took the SAT's very late did well and those and then from there started really saying oh wait I can I can go to pretty much any school that I want and then started taking very seriously that process of figuring out exactly which program I wanted.

Ben Uyeda: And so basically I took like two or three like three gap years which for my personality was fantastic. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for everyone but coming into a university setting as a 21 year old freshman who had already you know been used to living on their own had lived overseas had jobs was self-supporting. It wasn't like I was smarter like these 18 year old kids were so bright and highly competitive but they were just figuring out how to like get drunk for the first time and like live on their own and deal with like roommates and deal with an unsupervised life. Where I was able to be much better much better at sort of managing my time so I could take more units per semester I think than the typical 18 year old strictly by sort of knowing how to live you know live better.

How Ben started Zero Energy Design while in college.

Brandon:: Yeah so did I see, so Zero Energy Designs started in 2006. Is that right?

Ben Uyeda: Right.

Brandon:: And you were still in college when that happened is that right?

Ben Uyeda: Yep. So I think that was the other advantage of all those gap years is that I was sort of thinking ahead. I felt like I was behind because I was around in the same academic year as people that were much younger than me. So it made me start thinking how am I going to make up that time.

Ben Uyeda: And I started talking to people that had graduated like and been in the field of architecture for a few years and said OK do you have your own firm? And none of them did. And so then I started taking that you know a very simple question very seriously is how do I start my own architecture firm day one when I graduate I don't want to wait 10 years of working for somebody else before I have my name on something.

Ben Uyeda: And so I teamed up with some classmates we had done some design build competitions particularly the Solar Decathlon that we did really well in. And we so we had a lot of experience working with each other there sort of put together a team of architects, engineers and MBA's and started planning on how we're going to start a firm the day we graduated from college.

Brandon:: That's cool. So you graduate and then you go straight into your master's or is that later?

Ben Uyeda: I combined them so there's like an overlap program right.

Ben Uyeda: And that was just more in the interest of economic efficiency and speed. You know switching universities and apply... like I see from a sheer experiential standpoint I would always say that you should go to two different schools so you experience different cultures and that but in my particular case I was able to sort of take a five year undergrad program and a two year grad program and compress them all into five years.

Ben Uyeda: So it was able to save a lot of money that way.

Brandon:: That's cool.

Brandon:: So in 2010 you guys won the Green Building Council for that natural talent design competition. Is that right?

Ben Uyeda: Yep.

Brandon:: And I didn't make the connection until earlier today when I was in New Orleans like we were doing some.. right after Katrina or I guess a few years after Katrina and we were in the Ninth Ward.. Eighth Ward and like we said we saw those homes and like all these are so cool and they're talking about they're super sustainable they're all solar on like man who ever made this is super smart. So you were part of the team behind that. So kind of the question is why solar and like why sustainability wasn't always been in your story?

Why is sustainability and solar important.

Ben Uyeda: I think again speaking you know it's nice being sort of go full circle here is that I've always wanted to have that sort of simple pragmatic need for things right. And we don't live in a sort of survivalist culture where we have to grow our own food and do all those things. We have to sort of invent purpose in a lot of ways. And I was always looking for a sort of a way to sort of focus energy and effort towards something that felt real didn't feel totally self-promotional although I certainly have zero problems with sort of self-promoting. But something that is I felt like I could adjectively believe in and get sort of warm fuzzy feels about it but not feel like it was a strictly sort of emotionally indulgent pursuit.

Ben Uyeda: And the thing about sustainability is I think there's a lot of kind of you know it felt like there was something kind of undeniable about it which is kind of funny because it is a largely denied thing. But then there's also people denying that the earth is round now...so. But yeah I just felt simple like so regardless of climate change and those kind of things. You know the minute sort of the main challenge for mankind doesn't become like how do we protect ourselves from bears and wild animals or how do we produce enough food to survive. Right. Like in developed countries where we've moved past that. In fact our bigger health problems are more likely having too much food or you know there are more sort of the self-inflicted challenges.

Ben Uyeda: So I felt like at first when I was younger I was disappointed because I missed out on those simple challenges that were undeniable. Right. Like couldn't it just be about how to be a really good farmer so that you can feed your family better and that's that's all you need to put your brain towards doing right. Or how do you build shelter that protects you from wild animals. So in the absence of that sort of clear imperative of how you use your ingenuity to survive and protect those around you well. I said well why don't I just tackle the thing that had replace that. Where is how do we sort of design mechanisms that actually encourage people to use less resources or use resources more efficiently. How do we design and implement technology that does these things?

Technological vs cultural problem of solar

Ben Uyeda: And in particular, when I was in Cornell I worked with a lot of engineers and so we saw a lot of really cool research and very you know first I was like oh we just you know like most students we were like oh we just need to implement or we just need to do these things just like why can't everything be this way. And then we kept wondering like well these things have been around for a while like why aren't they actually being done. And that's when I started to realize that sustainability as much as is talked about as a technical challenge involving solar panels fuel cells and all these things. It's really more of the cultural challenge of implementing sustainable technology is far greater than the technological challenge.

Ben Uyeda: So we started experimenting with a lot of ideas that we're relating to and that's when the first time I also realized it could be a creative endeavor not just the technical implementation endeavor. So when the first concepts that we came up with that was really exciting was you could tell people to put solar on the houses and they'd be like.

Ben Uyeda: Yeah that sounds cool.

Ben Uyeda: Great. I'm open to it.

Ben Uyeda: What does it cost?

Ben Uyeda: It costs you know $20000.

Ben Uyeda: What's the pay back on that versus utility bills?

Ben Uyeda: It's like seven to 10 years or something. Eh...that's OK but it's not like not rushing out to do it.

Ben Uyeda: And then we realized that while most people don't pay for their home with a giant suitcase full of cash they do it with a mortgage. And then we start realizing oh wait it's really not just about designing solar panels and showing them an architectural rendering on the house what it looks like it's actually packaged him into the lifestyle considerations that people think are important in this case their monthly cost of ownership their mortgage plus their utility bill. And so we started communicating, wait, no no.

Ben Uyeda: If you're building a new house it's totally different than retrofitting an old house if you can convince the bank to pack to extend your construction budget so you packaging the solar into the house. Then you might only be increasing your mortgage payment by $50 a month but reducing your utility bill by $75 a month. So the payback is really only on the difference in the down payment. And that's why we start saying no it's not just about designing an additional technology into your house. It's about designing a better mortgage payment for your house plus utilities.

Ben Uyeda: And that was the first time where I said you had to get creative not just on the physical part of design but in even how you communicate it to the end consumer. Because if they don't understand it and they don't see the value in it you haven't fully done your job as a designer. I think people often mistake the difference between a designer and illustrator. An illustrator just shows what something looks like. A designer has to show they have to create motivation and show technical implementation. So you have to show how something could exist but also provide the motivation so that people would want to spend money time and resources to make that thing exist.

Why we all have it made.

Brandon:: So that desire to go from just like big overarching problem. So you get to reframe it and say like an individual person's experience and how they approach it is that's kind of what drew you towards Homemade Modern? Because I mean you're going directly one on one, once you went to YouTube. I mean it seems like you had it made right and you made that transition?

Ben Uyeda: You know we all have it made really.

Ben Uyeda: Even what we're doing right now the fact part of our work life is sort of like business networking is sort of like talking about things that we're passionate about and doing that that's all having it made so... I don't know.

Ben Uyeda: I've always felt sort of equally happy when I felt reasonably utilized and had clear things that I wanted to do. I've felt like things weren't made when I had a lot of sort of indecisive moments about what should I do next. So all I really care is that there's there's an imperative or an outline of where I can expend my energy and thoughts. So I think as long as I have that whether it's making terrible swords into backyard or making YouTube videos now, I'm pretty you know pretty satisfied with how it's made.

Why distribute ideas and products online versus high end clients.

Ben Uyeda: But to your point or a question. Yeah, I think that there is a through line in this case it was again trying to look at more the cultural challenge of design rather than just that. And what I saw both amongst my peers that you know went to design schools for either architecture or fashion or industrial design. And what I saw in architecture is that the most talented people start to focus more at the higher end of the market. And I was always really intrigued by tech firms. And I always loved the fact that a company like Google makes Gmail right? Gmail is a fantastic product, I know people worth hundreds of millions of dollars that use Gmail and I know people worth tens of dollars that use Gmail. And they both love it. And to me that was so aspirational. It didn't have to be this higher or low end. You could figure out a way to serve a broad spectrum of people and at the same time make a lot of money. And that's that was the part I really you know became sort of dissatisfied with architecture over time is that you're so incentivized you know to keep doing if you're working with a custom custom houses like we were.

Ben Uyeda: We kept getting higher and higher end clients and you know that's that's awesome but it doesn't really feel that noble even if we started moving towards doing like big housing projects and stuff like that we'd still be you know doing housing for like maybe 500 people a year.

Ben Uyeda: And so the Internet has always had that sort of intrigue to me because it was a way to figure out how can I arrange things where just like my ideas as a designer are going to the most amount of people with the least amount of barriers in between them with the least amount of sort of watering down and sort of in that sort of distribution process. And that's really it was that sort of dissatisfaction with the business models of architecture that sort of led me to experiment with distributing design media online.

Brandon:: At what point... I saw your first posted video at least on your current channel it's was like June 2013?

Ben Uyeda: Yeh.

Why YouTube was never the end goal, just a means of distribution.

Brandon:: At what point were you like I'm going full out like this is this is the thing I'm going to do or was it all that kind of an experiment along the way?

Ben Uyeda: It was before I made that first video. I sort of I defined what I what I knew but didn't know. Right. So I knew that for I believe 100 percent that more and more people would consume media online and not in traditional sources. So I felt that was a pretty safe and undeniable realization and at almost any rational person would agree with that that that was a general trend.

Ben Uyeda: I knew with less certainty maybe that 90 degree certainty that more and more people would consume video content over a sort of written content. So I believed in those two concepts and I knew I also believed to even a slightly lesser degree but still with a high amount of certainty that I would I would be pretty good at coming up with creative ideas for video content.

Ben Uyeda: So I was committing to those ideas. I wasn't committing to oh I can make a job in YouTube Oh I can do this. So I think that's too specific because you don't know if YouTube is going to be around forever. You know you don't know if MySpace is going to go away. So I think for me it was more looking at the broad general trends of the way media was going picking the things that I knew were undeniable and safe and then planning a way to be really good at those things. So the path was never on YouTube I still didn't you know really focus on YouTube till much later. The path was on those sort of simple things producing content for online distribution focus with an emphasis on video and a belief that a consistent supply of creative ideas could lead to good results in those endeavors.

Why Ben moved to furniture designs.

Brandon:: Why furniture to start or the smaller projects. Was it just the accessibility that people would have to those?

Ben Uyeda: Yeah.

Ben Uyeda: And you know my previous tech company I did had distributed whole architectural designs online. And so I had done that. I knew what it took to get whole architectural plans to people.

Brandon:: Is that Free Green?

The power of Lowest Common Design.

Ben Uyeda: Yeh FreeGreen.com. So I was a company that we built up and then sold and I was interested in sort of what I was thinking when the actual name of the company isn't Homemade Modern, it's called Lowest Common Design. And I was trying to think of that way is in sort of figuring out what I want to do next. How do I start just at the bare bones bottom? How do I take the most elemental thing and for me I call it the lowest common design?

Ben Uyeda: Which to me the best example of that is you've been to someone's house and they have like a TV and it's just set on a board that's on two cinderblocks.

Brandon:: Yeah. Oh yeah that was me back in the today.

Ben Uyeda: Right. So that's that's a design that you'll see all over the world.

Brandon:: Yeah.

Ben Uyeda: You'll see that in Alabama you'll see that in Northern California you'll see that in Mexico you'll see that in Thailand you'll see that in China like some sort of thing, like it's a board across two masonry units.

Ben Uyeda: So to me that's like the lowest most common design thing. It's not authored. It just exists as a general tendency because they're the same way like fried chicken isn't exactly you know it is every country that I've been to has some sort of version of a fried chicken is that sort of lowest... simplest thing that sort of works and that people everywhere sort of do without even thinking of it necessarily that intentionally.

Ben Uyeda: And so that's why I swear I started with furniture I was sort of thinking along those concept is how do we just do. How do we take that sort of universality and just elevate it like one or two steps above it? And that was the sort of initial sort of approach to furniture home improvement and design stuff.

Ben's favorite project.

Brandon:: Gotcha. I'm sure you've gotten this question before. Is there a project that really stands out as you point you as your favorite?

Ben Uyeda: I mean the favorite from a personal enjoyment standpoint it's always what I'm working on next. I think the way I might take it would be like the ones the projects that have done the most for me and the first one that actually I would say is the bucket stool... the concrete stool.

Ben Uyeda: I don't think it was ever my most viewed video but it was one where I saw a difference between people implementing something and people watching something. And you know how I was really surprised at how many people just started making that project.

Ben Uyeda: And what was really encouraging about it is it did it wasn't just people that needed a store because nobody really needs a three legged stool. I can't have people over for dinner tonight because there's no three legged stool in our house right?

Ben Uyeda: It's kind of superfluous project that does have some function but isn't really like a high... it's not like a sofa or a bed or dining table. But seeing people how excited people were to take time out of the day and not just people that were really at the low end of the consumer spectrum.

Ben Uyeda: One of the first famous people that I saw make it or semi-famous people is that musician Tokie Monster who's like a very successful deejay and music producer and doesn't have a background in making but had somehow saw the video and decided that she was going to make one.

Ben Uyeda: And she posted it on Instagram even before and that was actually when I first saw it downloaded Instagram I saw a friend said.. Hey my favorite deejay just posted a picture of the stool you design.

Ben Uyeda: And I got on Instagram just so I could like comment and say thanks. So I think that project was so encouraging to see someone like that was a creative person that I really respected that doesn't need to make anything that isn't used to making things that are said That looks that looks fun and to see someone that doesn't have a ton of free time that was still excited about that was hugely encouraging and inspiring.

What people misunderstand most in Ben's work

Brandon:: I know we are getting close on time. Before we wrap up the last question I wanted to ask is there a topic.. because I know you're can be all over the place just in your interests.. which is really neat. Is there something that you're interested in you just don't feel like you get to talk enough about whether it's like a material or design aspect is there something like.. hey I don't know what people aren't talking about this?

Ben Uyeda: I think they used to be like before I started that or start doing the podcast with Mike and Chris. Is like voice over is my least enjoyable part of of of a video.

Ben Uyeda: I don't think I was get enough time. This is self-inflicted because I hate voiceover..to sort of explain context of the projects. I think too often I just get comfortable sort of throwing out a project and letting people sort of figure it out.

Ben Uyeda: But when I see sort of comments is there's generally sort of confusion between sometimes when what's D.I.Y. vs what's sort of what's instructional work vs what's just sort of a demonstration there would probably be in my interest to sort of take more time to kind of explain those things.

Ben Uyeda: And since you asked a question like I think. I think people often misunderstand YouTube as that they think of it so much as a consumer of it.

Ben Uyeda: They go OK I watch these videos because I like this person for that thing but they don't always think well why is that person producing things. I just actually upload a video right now and it's probably no idea why project is more of a demonstration showed how to use a laser cutter to cut these inlays or go into a concrete table. And it looks it looks awesome. But laser cutters aren't for everybody.

Ben Uyeda: And I think you know you know half the people will watch it and will be sort of like this is great I want to make it but I can't make it because of this. And that's such a prescriptive approach when really you want to take a conceptual approach you want to say ah the concepts behind the things are universal. Taking a cheap material like concrete which is you know 15 dollars a bag and making a big heavy stone type table top out of it and then saying how can I differentiate it from all the other concrete tables by doing taking an expensive material like walnut or a hard wood and doing a little bit of inlay. That's the concept behind the project.

Ben Uyeda: Now the particular path that I followed involved the laser cutter and all those things. But you don't need a laser cutter to take advantage of that concept. And so I say the thing I don't talk enough about it is is is what is sort of happens in the first year of any good design school is they teach the students hey it's not about style it's not about prescription. Houses have you know pitched rooms and this many windows and this. It's about thinking about the concepts behind why we need to build stuff in the first place and then reverse engineering that and deploying those concepts in a flexible way that can specifically take advantage of whatever you have available to you but not necessarily saying I follow each step.. Oh wait I don't have laser cut it can't do it. Done worthless unsubbed by.

Brandon:: I'm actually I mean a book right now that is cooking. It's like salt, heat, acid and I forget the last one and I'm not finished but it's talking about the principles. The recipe is not the recipe, there's a point for it.

Ben Uyeda: 100 percent is exactly the same right. If you can only cook by recipe that's a really limiting thing you're only as good as the recipe book or what you know learn the concepts behind it and then you can invent and add things to it and it won't just be trial and error in invention. It'll be sort of us a much smarter more efficient version of that.

Brandon:: Gotcha. So Homemade Modern is that the best place you'd send people to go to for all your stuff?

Yeh, just google Homemade Modern or if you go to Instagram and go to BenUyeda. Instagram's where I the most active. And I actually normally pretty good about answering my DM's.

Well I appreciate your time. Is was a blast chatting with you. Likewise.

Brandon Cullum