Facing Forward with Adam Garcia

AIGA is celebrating its centennial this year. That’s right, AIGA has been around for 100 years! As part of the many festivities, we reflect on our rich history and vibrant future through a timeless design icon: the chair.

Inspired by the fact that AIGA’s earliest members purchased their own Windsor-style chairs for meetings and events, AIGA chapters were invited to customize their own chairs, donated by Blu Dot. A national exhibit is being displayed in New York City, and AIGA Portland is honored to be represented by local designer Adam R. Garcia of The Pressure. Adam’s chair, along with one designed by Portland creative, Aaron Draplin , as well as dozens of others, will be showcased at the Facing Forward: AIGA At 100 exhibition held in New York from February 19 through April 4.

We asked Adam a few questions about Portland, design, and his Facing Forward chair. This is what he had to say:

Hi Adam, thank you so much for getting involved with AIGA’s celebration of 100 years of design. Let’s start by asking, what is your official occupation?
Maker of Things, Experiences and Connections at The Pressure, a multidisciplinary creative studio in Portland

What is the first thing you ever designed? 
The first thing I remember “designing” is digging through the bathroom cabinets and trying to recreate medicine labels on a PC that my mom had, as well as laying out “player character” sheets for roleplaying games and making fake print interviews with my friends.

What sort of projects are you working on now?
A variety. Some projects for Nike, branding a music festival, doing environmental design for various institutions, random illustrations and personal projects and planning our first gallery show, which is in June. Also, throwing spelling bees.

How long have you lived in Portland? 
4 beautiful years

That’s a decent amount of time. What is the most random “Keep Portland Weird” thing you’ve come across in Portland? 
I think I’m still looking for it! I’ve come to embrace the daily surprises that are the humans in Portland, where I used to be a bit more cynical regarding the city.

Do you have a favorite local designer at the moment? 
That’s an incredibly difficult one. I love the work of Ramon Coronado and Public Library, excited to see what else they do in the future.

The Facing Forward exhibit celebrates 100 years of design. Where do you see the profession going in the next 100 years? 
I definitely see automation in the future, and design merging with programming and platform-creation. I also see the merging of disciplines in an extreme, just as we’ve seen an extreme fracturing of the disciplines. I’m excited for the future of design, learning and absorbing as much as possible.

Why did you decide to get involved with AIGA Portland and this project?
I like any organization that is a platform for community and creation and it seemed like a great challenge, to represent the Portland chapter. We’ve also been playing with product and pattern quite a bit lately so it all made sense–such a fun project.

Your chair design incorporates a really fun pattern. What was your process for creating it?
I wanted to represent the city in a somewhat abstract manner, so I began mixing up some things that to me represent Portland. Surprise, delight, nature, a bit of fashion, and the city grid (which translated into the buffalo plaid). And mixing digital elements with the hand-done brush pattern felt like a good mixture to represent the creative community as well.

Adam Garcia AIGA chair mockupIMG_8260.jpg

What was the most enjoyable part of creating this design? 
Getting lost in pattern creation to the point that you lose yourself and it becomes meditative.

What was the most challenging pull-you-hair-out part? 
Trying to sum up a city’s ethos. In the end, I just went with a mood and make something fun and dynamic.

When you go to a bar, do you sit at the bar or a booth? 
Depends. Definitely try to not have my back to the front door, though

Is your chair designed to be sat on or just looked at? 
Sat on AND looked at!

Thanks, Adam! It’s an honor to have you represent AIGA Portland, as we celebrate 100 years of design excellence. If only we could be in New York to see the exhibition and sit in your chair… Luckily there is the internet and we can all enjoy it virtually. Here is a teaser photo from the VIP reception at the AIGA National Design Center.


Explore more photos from Facing Forward, as well as other national Centennial celebrations happening all year long with the hashtag #AIGA100.

Published February 19, 2014
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