A Rising Star: Our Mortarr in the Classroom Winner
Murphy Cauble, an Interior and Graphic Design student at the University of Minnesota, is the winner of the third annual Mortarr in the Classroom competition, powered by Durasein. His winning submission, Neo + North, imagined a contemporary take on an “Up North” restaurant in a revitalized Minnesota neighborhood. We spoke with him about his design background and future plans in the industry.
Tell us all about yourself, Murphy! Other than designing award-winning environments, what do you do in your spare time?
When I find spare time, I enjoy catching up on my sleep, watching TV, and hanging out with my family.
What sparked your interest in design?
I really enjoy design (and interior design, specifically) because of its combination of creativity and logic. I enjoy making creative decisions that are grounded in facts and research.
As a student, how does the Mortarr platform assist in your creative process?
I really enjoy Mortarr because of its ability to filter by specific spaces and sustainability certifications. As students, we aren’t fully versed in all the possibilities for designed environments and material applications, so being able to see how other firms approach spaces like our projects helps to expand our knowledge base and inspire us. It also helps us become familiar with various firms so we can follow ones we find interesting. Mortarr is also helpful in terms of sustainability, which is a big part of our curriculum. Sometimes, we are required to select products or find precedents based on sustainable programs/guidelines, and it’s really helpful to be able to filter projects by these certifications and find what we need quickly.
Tell us about your Neo + North Project, which took home the big prize in our Mortarr in the Classroom competition.
Neo + North is a restaurant designed for the North Loop neighborhood in downtown Minneapolis. The idea for the brand was inspired by this neighborhood as well as Minnesota’s “up north” identity. Neo + North combines the idea of “neo” meaning new and revitalized (alluding to the transformation the North Loop area has experienced) and “north” from Northern Minnesota identity and the North Loop. The logo design/interior color scheme was inspired by the north point on a compass, where it is usually denoted by a red arrow. This brand was carefully applied throughout the restaurant to create an identity and brand experience without losing sophistication.
Commercial, residential, graphic, branding, visualizations –you’ve cultivated quite the design skillset. Did you intend to create such a holistic design perspective, or has it happened naturally?
I have been interested in graphic and interior design for a while, and this project required us to create a brand, logo, and restaurant menu. I really enjoyed being able to combine my two interests in this way, and the brand immersion ended up working well because of my previous experience in this area. For the visualization piece, I also have had a background in video editing and 3D modeling, which overlapped well when manipulating the renderings for this restaurant. To summarize, I think I was fortunate enough to have my holistic design perspective develop naturally, based on my previous experiences and interests.
Unsurprisingly, we’re material nerds here at Durasein…. Are there any materials that you find particularly exciting or innovative?
I’m really interested in the manipulation of light, so I’m fascinated by smart windows as well as other new lighting products, specifically ones that also manipulate color like Nanoleaf products.
Who is your current favorite architect or designer?
I really like Joanna Gaines’s blend of rustic/modern and the use of natural wood in her designs. I also like architect Jean Nouvel and the care he takes with his buildings. Living in the Twin Cities, I have been able to experience his work at the Guthrie Theatre, and I really admire this building that is now so iconic in the Minneapolis skyline.
What’s next on your agenda? Have you made any post-grad plans yet?
I’m excited to start my internship with TreHus in Minnesota this summer, and I look forward to continuing to explore commercial and residential design. After graduation, I hope to work at a design firm, hopefully focusing on architectural technology and visualization as I really enjoy that part of the design process.