What did you want to be as a kid?
Do you ever reflect back over the course of your life and wonder how you landed the career you are in today? I find it amusing to think back to all the mishap jobs I’ve ever had, and create a narrative as to how imperfectly perfect everything has fallen into place to lead me into a career in design. I posed this question to the office and asked them to reflect on what their “dream” job was as a child and how that may have transcended to a career in design. Join us in reflecting back to your childhood dreams and odd-ball high school gigs, and plot your own story as to how you landed in your career.
Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist. I had an impressive collection of art supplies, but I also loved using stuff from around the house in crafts. I was constantly saving toilet paper rolls, plastic jello cups, and other junk to make houses and furniture for my dolls. I also loved saving and gluing together wood scraps from my grandfather’s woodworking studio to make masks and sculptures. I once chose to research and dress up as Claude Monet for a class presentation. I won a few awards for my art in elementary school, and the Art Room was me and my friends’ favorite after class hang out spot. I still carry a love for fine art today, and try to draw inspiration from and integrate it into my work.
This may seem like a strange answer, but I don’t think I really wanted to “be” anything growing up. Sure, I had plenty of interests, but as a kid I was always happy living in the moment and exploring new things. My interests morphed and I wanted to do it all. Scientist, athlete, cartoonist, mechanic, you name it. (long pause) Hmm, that’s weird…each of those things still, in a way, describe aspects of being an Architect (ok, maybe not the athlete part, but I still get outside during the middle of the day to go bike riding or running). And I swear I didn’t plan that answer! I really had no idea idea where this was going until the pen hit the paper (or in this case the fingers hit they keyboard?). I guess the world really does work in mysterious ways…
I remember wanting to save animals and someday become a veterinarian. However, as I think back it is funny to realize that what I REALLY wanted to be was in the works all along. As I was dreaming of becoming a vet, I would play barbie doll with all the girls I lived with in my orphanage. While they were occupied dressing up the dolls and fixing their hair, I was busy designing the barbie houses! I made multi-level barbie homes of cardboard, cut out windows, and hand painted the wallpaper with intricate detail. Over time, I had created a mini-city of barbie doll houses. Without knowing it at the time, I was destined to design and build all along, although I still have a soft spot for animals.
The first thing I remember wanting to be was a lifeguard. Living as a little kid in LA, I was obsessed with swimming and a chance to be at the beach/pool every day sounded wonderful. As I grew older and moved to Denver, however, I found that I absolutely loved to draw. I remember how I would become obsessed with certain subjects (dinosaurs, animals, cars, houses, etc.) I would first want to learn about them, and then I would want to draw them. Though my interests changed a lot over the years, I never grew tired of drawing buildings. I think this is what kicked off my pursuit of a design career.
What DIDN’T I want to be when I grew up is the simpler questions for me; I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, bus driver, teacher (ever since my mom won an eBay bidding war and got me an overhead projector – SOLD), astronaut, wedding planner, animal rights activist, and the list goes on and on. Being a designer never crossed my mind in my early years, yet looking back I was constantly re-arranging my room and shifting furniture around, which increased in college along with a desire to procrastinate that 10-page paper a little longer. In college, I began teaching special education, but I became more fixated on what the students’ living options were going to be after they graduated school. I focused many of my senior projects advocating reasons why better designed mental health facilities and living arrangments could result in positive cognitive shifts. Here at WORKSHOP8, working on a team that is dedicated to providing more mindful designs for senior adults and individuals with disabilities, I can see how my string of passion projects and jobs have transcended to where I am now.
Have you ever heard the chorus of the song “The Distance” by Cake? “ He’s going the distance, He’s going for speed, He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse, He’s racing and pacing and plotting the course.” Well, MY horse was a BMX bike, and I think it was my fascination with speed that made me want to be a car designer as a kid. I would draw cars on all of my notebooks to the point where I could recognize a cars’ make and model just by seeing its headlight at night. I think it was this obsession for design that ultimately landed me a career in designing buildings.
As a little kid, I always wanted to be a fireman. We did not have a car for most of my days growing up in Amsterdam, so aspiring to drive the biggest truck was where it was at. I have always loved playing with Legos. Growing up there was no cool legos like they have today so often I would adjust and alter my legos using my dad’s drill. This was the start of my career in design.
As a child I loved musicals; some of my idols were Ginger Rogers and Ester Williams. I always wanted to wear one of those big, flowing feather skirts with sequin bodice while twirling around the dance floor and to be able to dive into a pool of water and come back up with hair and makeup intact. Alas, that was not what the universe had in store for me, but the love of glamour and showmanship never left me. There was a brief time in High School when I thought I might be a chef and I still love to cook when I have time. When I started college in 1985, I wanted to be an Interior Designer, but my perspective drawing skills were never very strong, so over my 9-years as an off-and-on undergraduate, I tried on several majors before landing on conceptual art. This is where I learned to turn an idea into physical form. After I finally earned my BFA, my first job was as the studio manager of a graphic design firm. Then I made and sold candles and worked for BMoCA before starting my own graphic design studio (Blinc! Creative). When Joseph decided he wanted to start his own architecture studio, it made sense for us to combine our efforts. When I turned 50 a couple of years ago, the childhood desire to wear feathers and sequins came back stronger than ever and that is why I have started producing cabaret shows and modeling in local fashion shows. BAM! Childhood desires fulfilled, sans the diving. Go out and do you!
Before I discovered legos, I was into flight. I loved planes. I loved birds. My favorite planes were the the RAF Spitfire, the F4U Corsair and the P-51 Mustang! I used to go to Audubon summer camp, and I used to raise pigeons. From the time I was 9 years old until 13, a friend and I had over 100 pigeons of various breeds. We named each and every one. One summer I brought a mated pair of pigeons with me to San Francisco, and in hind sight I feel really bad that I did because I had them in a smallish cage, where as in Colorado they had free reign to come and go as they pleased. A few weeks before I was going to come back to Colorado for school, the two got out, and flew away. I was so sad. A few weeks after I got back, the male showed up, but I never saw the female again. Although I never talked about raising birds for a living or working at a zoo, I certainly talked about being a pilot. But then I got my first box of legos… So cliche!
To be honest, when I was young I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had typical interests most kids such as sports, video games, legos, etc.. The first thing I can remember wanting to be was either a police officer or enrolling into the military, but I think I just liked the uniforms. It wasn’t until middle school that I started to have an interest in design and started to practice drawing, although sports took most of my time. My sister knew I had an interest in design and introduced me to an architect from her work. He led me to the Environment Design Program at CU Boulder, and I haven’t looked back since. Simultaneously, I have fulfilled my desire to wear a uniform as I currently serve as a Marine Reservist.
My two major interests when I was little were animals and art. I spent most of my time researching animals in the Eyewitness Animal books that I’d take out from the library, playing pretend with my plastic animals, or drawing and painting animals in my sketch book. At first I thought I’d become a zookeeper, but as time went on, I realized drawing the animals was really my favorite thing to do, so my focus switched to becoming an artist. I jumped on any creative assignment or art class that came my way, I wasn’t truly happy unless I was painting, drawing, or at least doodling. When it came time to choose a major in college, I knew that whatever I chose needed to have some sort of artistic focus. I landed on interior architecture, it satisfied my creative needs while challenging the curious and analytical side of my brain. I am so grateful that I landed on a career that allows me to be a bit of an artist every day.
Our family came to the United States when I was around 4 years old. We did not have a lot of material possessions and most of my “toys” consisted of popsicle sticks, cardboard, Elmer’s glue and Ductape. I remember finding a refrigerator box in an alley and thought I found a “gold mine.” This early age of creating and building whatever my imagination could dream of led me to wanting to be a product designer.
Thanks for Reading!
Maris DuBois | Studio Manager
28 June 2019