Visit the Studio of Design Professor Martin Venezky

Martin Venezky in his studio

Martin Venezky wrote this piece for the fall 2016 issue of Glance magazine, part of an ongoing feature showcasing the studios of CCA faculty and alumni.

Venezky has taught in CCA’s Graduate Program in Design since 1993. He is the master designer at Appetite Engineers, a San Francisco-based design firm. His projects include work for SFMOMA, the Whitney, Reebok, the Sundance Film Festival, Wired, and the New York Times.

He has also designed books on sports, popular culture, art, and photography.  He and his team mix hand skills and digital skills across media to produce intricate and inventive designs.

My studio is perched above an auto glass repair shop in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. Five years ago, when I first saw the spot, I hesitated over the rough-and-tumble nature of the area.

But I’ve come to enjoy its blue-collar quality: people are here to work, to build things, to get stuff done. That’s perfect. And it makes my little playground all the more surprising when people visit.

Andrea Faucett, a CCA graduate, was instrumental in bringing this space to life. This upstairs space was originally an extra office for the glass folks downstairs and was depressing as hell.

But Andrea and I worked together to transform the gloom into something personal and fantastic. She stripped away the shag carpeting, changed the lights, outfitted the windows, painted the walls, and even made the bathroom a little oasis within an oasis.

I do admire nice, cleanly designed professional spaces, but I don’t know how long I could function in one. I need to have all my tools and materials on hand. I need to wander from project to project, adding and subtracting and revisiting as the day progresses.

There is order here, but not too much, and things are allowed to drift from room to room, and so one project often infects another.

Everything here intersects, and I like it that way. Outside and inside, work and play, things I collect and things I make, my professional life and my own personal pursuits. The walls are covered with studies and ideas that keep swirling through my work.

I’m never at a loss for a process to pursue, but I do require discipline to limit the ideas and stay focused.

Speaking of focus, you’d think that being next to a freeway on-ramp would give me a headache. But I am happy here. I rarely drive here and usually walk, so I enjoy the sounds of rush hour.

You’d be surprised how soothing honking horns, rumbling engines, and snippets of music can be. And at night when I am here tinkering, I can admire the slowly moving stream of red taillights right outside my window.