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Cutting-edge concepts on display

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Real Estate section
Sunday, October 7, 2007


Curious about what sort of design is originating from the Land of Enchantment?

Two unique happenings highlighting top quality, innovative products and services from New Mexican artisans, manufacturers and other design-related businesses will take place next weekend as part of this year's Santa Fe Design Week festivities.

Visit these free events at the Santa Fe Indian School and you'll learn about cutting-edge concepts and offerings that span everything from solar-energy home design to custom-made body-piercing jewelry -- all conceived, designed and produced in New Mexico.

The B(u)y New Mexico Business Expo on Saturday and Sunday offers visitors and the 25-plus participants an opportunity to network, promote New Mexico-based design-related businesses and their products.

Sarah Ellis, B(u)y Design Business Expo manager, says the goal of this year's expo is to create a smaller, more intimate experience. "We're hoping to have 24 to 28 participants," Ellis says.

The event, she says, will reflect the overall concept of this year's Design Week -- "Good, conscious design. We want to promote quality businesses that are doing wonderful work right here in our state."

The expo will be held in the cafeteria of the Santa Fe Indian School on the old campus, "which we're delighted about," Ellis notes.

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Danny Buck, owner of Daniel Buck Construction, formerly president of Living Structures, Inc., will again be participating in the event. Buck, whose construction career has spanned nearly 30 years of building energy-efficient homes with solar design as the focus, says he's returning to the Design Week event because he's interested in networking with people who share his interests and to meet potential new clients.

"Last year, I participated in 50 to 60 percent of the Design Week events," Buck says. "I was having the time of my life. I thought it was the best thing Santa Fe had produced since Bioneers 10 years ago."

Among the other businesses participating in the 2007 expo are Santa Fe Trend magazine, SitSteel Contemporary Metal Furniture and Silver Zebra Design.

Courtesy photos
Velasquez, maker of this Donju dresser, is among those whose work is featured in the Pura Belleza Design Exhibition at Santa Fe Design Week. Courtesy photo
Going against the grain has paid off for Albuquerque native Damian Velasquez, maker of this 'Donju' dresser. Velasquez is among those whose work is featured in the Pura Belleza Design Exhibition at Santa Fe Design Week.

James Cady, owner of Silver Zebra Design, participated in the expo last year "with a great deal of success. I like the people and the concept. I respect the clientele, and the artisans there are all fine craftsmen," he says.

Cady, who primarily produces custom installations of copper and steel, says, "Metal is my canvas. This year, I'm featuring more of an art form ... something for 'just' its beauty, less about functionality. I had a client with an unusual request; he wanted to look out of his dining room and see a school of fish go by. So this led to other things. These fish have some kind of soul to them."

'Pure beauty'

The complementary Pura Belleza Design Exhibition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday seeks to highlight the broad range of design products produced in New Mexico.

The "pure beauty" concept highlights the importance of beauty in design, Barbara Walzer, Santa Fe Design Week creative director, says. "We are looking for things that are functional, innovative and beautiful ..."

The exhibit, which will be held in the old gymnasium at the Santa Fe Indian School, will showcase about 30 pieces, ranging from posters to pop-up books, body-piercing jewelry, a custom motorcycle, a snowboard and furniture.

These fish have some kind of soul to them. Courtesy photo
'Metal is my canvas,' says James Cady, owner of Silver Zebra Design in Santa Fe. He created a school of fish for a client who wanted to see them swim by his dining room. 'So this led to other things. These fish have some kind of soul to them.'

Says Walzer, "The exhibition showcases the variety of design in general. The design field has expanded to include everything from graphics to airplanes. Of course, these things have always been designed ... (but) the idea that design matters certainly is a new sensibility. Being at the Indian School provides an important background to the birth of design in the Southwest."

Albuquerque native Damian Velasquez is a custom-furniture designer whose "Donju" dresser will be on display. The piece, representing Damian Velasquez Modern Handcrafted Furniture, was selected to exhibit, says Velasquez, "after I applied to the juried competition for Design Week. Someone saw my slides and contacted me for 'modern furniture made in our own backyard.'"

The Donju is one of his favorite designs, Velasquez says. "It's very simple, very functional, very subtle. It's unique in the sense that what other dressers have a hole right in the middle of them? I play around with combining space and drawer boxes in different configurations."

Velasquez began designing and producing furniture in 1991, "at the peak of 'Southwest Style,'" he says. "Due to the fact that I was just starting out with furniture design, I didn't realize I was going against the grain," he says, "but there was actually an audience for it here. I'm seeing a resurgence in the popularity of modern design; it's gaining momentum."

Walzer says that Design Week staff sought out exhibitors who were not only unique but also from New Mexico -- and particularly from Santa Fe. "It's a very choice, very select group," she says.

Food will be available during the events from Torinos'@Home, a catering company featuring Italian food owned by Daniela Bouneou. There will be light snacks, salads and traditional Italian pasta dishes -- including Bouneou's handmade cannelloni -- for sale at the exhibit/expo on both Saturday and Sunday.


If you go

What: B(u)y Design Expo and Pura Belleza Design Exhibition, Santa Fe Design Week

When/where: B(u)y Design Expo: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., Oct. 13 and Sun., Oct. 14, in the old cafeteria at the Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerrillos Road.

When/where: Pura Belleza Design Exhibition: 12-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12; 9: 30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13; 12-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the old gym of the Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerrillos Road.

Price: There is no admission charge for either event.

For more information and directions: Visit


Santa Fe Design Week, October 11-17, celebrates the oldest continuous design center in the United States -- from pre­Columbian pottery to Spanish colonial tinwork to cutting-edge contemporary artisan goods -- by featuring more than a dozen events, ranging from fashion and trunk shows to panel discussions, to an expo and exhibit of some of the best design to emerge from New Mexico. Parties, opportunities for networking and special sessions for students are also part of the mix.

Most of the events are free; a few have an admission charge. Most take place at the Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerrillos Road.

"Santa Fe Design Week began with the premise that the act of designing and creating useful objects is deeply rooted in the human psyche," the event's Web site says. "Today, after thousands of years of accumulating these objects, it's clear there is a limit to how much the earth can tolerate our desire for aesthetically pleasing things.

"How do we strike a balance? Begin by being a part of the discussion ..."

To download a complete program of events, visit www.DesignWeekSantaFe.com or call 989-1644 for a brochure or more information.

Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.

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