Is it just us, or do some companies seem to pull brilliant, creative advertisements out of a hat? Do you ever wonder who is behind the end product we all see? We did! Meet David Fredickson and John Ceniceros, owner and general manager of Figureplant, a company designed to guide creative professionals in standing out in the best way. Figureplant is a think tank and constructor of all things innovative – including photography, displays, television and film, retail, and events. David and John build amazing creations and are sure to give the public an experience to remember. With a client list including successful companies like Target, Nike, Google, Wieden + Kennedy, Diesel, and Apple and Pendleton; projects like restoring an old bus from Ireland for Brooks Sports Inc., or creating a chia-pet-like display for Hewlett Packard, these two men are always working on the edge.E+E: How did you two meet?David: You tell it best.John: *Laughs* Well, I was at Whitman College and involved in theatre as was David at Lewis & Clark. We ended up doing a touring show in town and they threw a party for us afterwards where we all ended up closing the place down. I remember, David was wearing the first pair of rollerblades I’d ever seen. This was 1985.David: You had to order rollerblades from Minnesota, they weren’t available in stores yet.John: Another funny fact; we had to go to David’s place to pick something up and I met his stepmother who years later became my stepmother.David: Yeah, so we are kind of weirdly related. Former half-step brothers twice removed or something.John: I met my dad’s wife before he did!E+E: So how did the relationship lead up to working together now?David: We worked together at school and after graduating John went on to the film industry and I went to work in theatre. We kept in touch and saw each other regularly but when I left San Francisco about a year and a half ago to head back to Portland, John was working on residential remodeling. He had mentioned something about working with Figureplant and I was somewhat hesitant about working with friends because of past situations. The difference with us was we started our relationship working 25 years ago, before we were friends. We always worked together so well and both have similar work ethics, goals, dreams and ambitions...so it’s been great.John: It’s been just magical working together. We actually had a woman at a coffee shop ask if we were partners (not the business kind) the other day. She must have been reading our energy. I thought it was a very “Portland” question.E+E: In terms of client projects, are there any you turn down?John: We like to have conversations that bring mutual respect and integrity. What we provide is not a commodity so when there are set prices and terms we like to have conversations that enable us to work with companies to figure out what they can afford and how the projects will benefit them.David: There aren’t many projects we turn down. We are always willing to work with somebody to figure out a solution to their problem.E+E: Do you have a favorite project?David: I have a lot of favorites but I really enjoyed a recent project we did for Nike where we built a Kenyan slum. Nike is involved in the Girl Effect, which focuses on raising the lives of preteen girls in third world countries, so when they had a bunch of their corporate leaders on campus, one of their tasks was to sit down in a half day brainstorming session to come up with programs to really apply to this cause. They wanted these corporate leaders to experience the lives of these girls, like how they live and what it’s like on a daily basis.The producer called and said, “David, I have a question for you. We have to build a Kenyan slum in the middle of the Tiger Woods Center at Nike, in two weeks. Can you do it?” I said yes, hung up the phone and asked John, “Can we do it?” We built the Kenyan slum in the middle of the Tiger Woods Center at the Nike Headquarters for these people to walk through before they sat down for the brainstorming session. There was dirt, mud, garbage, smells, and heat. We cranked up the temperature to 95 degrees, so it was like walking into Kenya with the heat and the smells. In actuality it was in the middle of a corporate center with all these multi-million dollar exhibits about products and marketing, and the slum is ultimately what people were talking about because of it being so different.It was really cool, really outside the box for them and a very courageous thing for the foundation to attempt. They put a lot of trust in us and the product came out remarkably well, which led to an inspired, electrified and incredibly productive session. That project was fun because of the trust given and shown by all parties involved. Plus we got to make a difference.E+E: How long did it take to build?David: About two weeks, then two days to install. It was up for three days first for the 200 corporate leaders from around the globe and then opened for anyone on campus to view. We also brought in a colleague of John’s who worked as an art director in the film industry and he was an integral part of it.John: We basically put a mini film crew together to build it.E+E: What do you love about Portland?John: What I love more than anything else about this place is how comfortable it is for someone of my values and political mind. It is so comfortable to be liberal here.David: I came out here for college from Colorado and the first thing I loved about it was the natural beauty...the green. Now I think it is the free thinking, entrepreneurial, creative spirit and openness. In Portland, people have the time, space and room to look at you in the eye on the street and say hi.E+E: Do you have a favorite neighborhood?David: I live in North Portland and I love North Portland because it feels like...the final frontier. It has a strong mix and hasn’t completely arrived, like some neighborhoods.John: I live in St. Johns and while I get frustrated with the lack of development, you still get to look out and see the mountains or look out over Forest Park. It’s also less than ten minutes from downtown and quiet. So I love St. Johns. Love and hate relationship, but I still love living here.Check out their website here for glimpses into past projects and watch videos here.
EYES & EDGE