MUSICEYES & EDGE

TEDxPortland: Brian Faherty of Schoolhouse Electric

MUSICEYES & EDGE
TEDxPortland: Brian Faherty of Schoolhouse Electric

If Brian Faherty had his way, more buildings and interior design would tip a nod to history.Faherty gets "squirrely," as he says, in environments that whitewash the heritage out of them. He's not shy to name Bridgeport Village in Tigard as a prime example of the "Disneyland effect." It's a copy of something else, he says."It's not real," Faherty said. "There's no soul. It's a facsimile of a European village."Faherty, after all, makes his living by modernizing vintage light fixtures, glass shades and other home decor, all of which have a story behind them. He's the founder, owner and creative director of the Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. and is one of Portland's most dedicated industrial craftsmen to making the old, new. He'll be one of the guest speakers for this year's sold-out TEDxPortland event. (He'll only give a vague hint to the subject of his speech: It's about finding his analog self in a digital world.)In the spirit of this year's open-ended "What if" theme, we posed our own question to Faherty: What if you could redesign Portland the way you wanted it to look?"To me, I think people need to be more conscientious of things that are existing if they're still functional," Faherty said.Faherty hearkens back to authenticity, the idea of paying tribute to the original purpose and story of a design. For example, he showcases the early 1900s and vintage commercial kitchen fixtures, such as the Alabax collection, at Schoolhouse. Or even the Schoolhouse building itself, which has a 5,000 square foot showroom decorated with salvaged wood.It's not that he expects every person to own vintage pieces, Faherty said. It's more that he enjoys domestic utility, things that are both useful and beautiful, he explained.His idea of good design is a thing or place that has, in its inherent quality, some remnant of the story behind it. Who was it made for? Who actually used it? And why? He's fascinated by classic designs that stand the test of time, he said, not simply aesthetics for the sake of beauty."A lot of care went into it," Faherty said. "There's a story behind it, where there is some meaning."He notices architecture and designs that have an "archive." For example, he points out the windows in the Mark Building of the Portland Art Museum, which blends modern architecture with the 1926 heritage of the location."There's a very small something about what was there before."Follow us today, Saturday, April 27, for live tweets of the best bits of TEDxPortland. Catch us @dominiquefong and EYES + EDGE @eyesandedge or add your own thoughts at #tedxpdx.Written by: Dominique Fong//