This week marks the 40th anniversary of Linea Forma Design. On my birthday in 1980, my original partner, Ron Skaff, and I jumped out of an airplane and parachuted to earth for our first (and last!) time, and our business was officially off and running. Perhaps we should have seen the exhilaration and terror of skydiving as a metaphor for what we were diving into. Self-employment is not for the squeamish.
Ron’s background was product development from the mechanical engineering side, and mine was from the design side. We worked well together. We picked the name because it meant “line” and “form” in Italian, and both of us were big followers of contemporary Italian studios like Vignelli Design, Bertone and ItalDesign.
During those first years, our studio was in the Industrial Center Building in Sausalito, CA., an amazing old facility where gigantic “victory ships” were built during World War II, but during our years, it housed about 150 different artists studios. We designed furniture, a yard tractor body for Southern Pacific Railroad, a private jet interior for LearJet, and helped develop products for plenty of start-up companies. We also worked with superb photographers, creating catalogs/binders and brochures for our clients, including many furniture manufacturers, and one particular plastics manufacturer, Labcon, who remains my client to this day!
By the end of the decade, the partners were ready for life changes. Ron traveled the world and settled in Australia while I headed for the Pacific Northwest. A year in Seattle was not the answer. So in early 1991, Portland became the permanent home of Linea Forma Design. And since I had a sister living in Eugene, and a great friend and collaborator, Jeff Sherwin living in Portland, everything fit together just right.
Since I didn’t have an engineer partner anymore, my product design skills concentrated more on “look” development, collaborating with a client’s internal engineering team. But as the past 15 years have evolved, and I have learned 3D modeling and some CAD skills, my lifelong experience with surface modeling in the real world has gone completely digital, finally joining my graphic side which went digital way back in 1987. But, thinking back to those first seven years, our Selectronic typewriter, with its one page of memory, and our Canon black and white printer were our most sophisticated technologies in the office.
It’s not something I think about every day or miss in any way. But reflecting on over 40 years of business, it’s hard not to notice the differences. (And the physical world still doesn’t have an UNDO button! Too bad!) What other era in history has seen such dramatic changes to the way people live? It’s really been exciting to watch those changes shaping the evolution of all my creative processes right up to today. Hard to imagine ever wanting it, or me, to stop evolving.
And in 2020, I am still diving in!Share this: