The Collective Creativity of Public School

Tech Tour

Name: Public School
Location: Austin, Texas
Size/Room: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5

Strap on your backpack and bring your lunch money, because today we're going to Public School — a design collective of seven graphic artists and photographers, working out of a converted home-to-office in Austin, TX. The workspace where these creative minds meld is eclectic, inspiring, and loaded down with tech. Click past the break to get schooled.

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Welcome to Tech-sas! I'm greeted by Jay Sauceda, who's making me mad jealous on how casual and cool he rocks a cowboy hat. He introduces me to Casey Dunn, donning a chambray shirt, and the two of them explain the space and flow of where they work.

Enter through the main door into lobby, a space surrounded by large open windows, and grounded by earthen-stained concrete. The lounge space houses a mix of modern and vintage pieces, with the most prominent noticeable featurebeing the deer head lofted above a section of a repurposed 10-ft long public school desk. Flanking the desk, a row of four salvaged orange auditorium chairs were discovered by Jay from his very own high school. These pieces give the space a laid-back personality and add a literal touch to their namesake.

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The airy space also houses a vintage cognac Eames Chair that invites a seating, alongside a modest kitchen area. Casey crafted the kitchen table from a glass door and some metal piping from Home Depot, exhibiting a fit and finish of a true craftsman, with the umber wood and steel playing off the palette of the space.

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Downstairs, creativity hums across a classroom-full of Apple computers — Powermac G5's, Cinema Displays, and iMacs. The whole office is insured by a fully-redundant LaCie RAID.

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Amongst the variegated landscape of modern tech tools are some pieces of a decorative nature: Leica cameras from yesteryear, several handmade items. They've even devised a flag system for communication. The flag pole system communicates to others whether they should be bothered for viral video tomfoolery or other relaxed activity (flag down - full steam ahead), or whether someone is casually working (half-mast - it better be good), or in the do-not-disturb zone (raised high - don't even think about it).

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When working collectively on projects the team prefers Wunderlist to sync and share ideas, finding inspiration from Pinterest, Svpply, and various other design blogs. The team enjoys outfitting the space with vintage finds that have a meaning and story, like the steel photograph media cabinet from Chicago.

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Apartment Therapy Survey
Our style - A mix between industrial age and mid-century modern with bits of our PUBLIC SCHOOL aesthetic sprinkled in.

The inspiration for the workspace - Mad Men. 50's-70's lifestyle and design.

Favorite element in the space - The window bench Casey and Cody built is easily the favorite piece and the one thing that gets the most use.

Biggest challenge in designing the space - Trying to figure out a way to work around the massive windows upstairs.

What friends say about the space - It is modern, but comfortable and approachable. Most people really enjoy hanging out and having social events in it as much as they like coming to work with us in it.

Area where there is room for improvement - Storing prints, books, and other materials is a constant challenge because of the sheer amount produced by each individual and the constantly evolving nature of each project.

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Proudest DIY (do it yourself) project - The desks and window seating have been the biggest hit in terms of reactions from people that come by the studio. We really like how those turned out. We also really like the wall graphic by the fridge that Will Bryant illustrated for us. (It lists all the things that they like to keep in the fridge) Biggest indulgence with respect to the space - Buying random knick knacks that we find when traveling. It's an obsession. The work table in the design studio was expensive and takes up a lot of space, but has been a worthwhile investment for productivity. Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home - Try to make technology get out of the way. It it isn't easy, it shouldn't be there. Technology is about making things easier, so don't add it in to the mix if the only thing it does is add stress to your life.

Dream source for stuff - An actual abandoned school that still has all of the furnishing left in it for the picking.

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Resources Tech Hardware
  • 2 PowerMac G5's
  • 4 iMacs
  • Slew of Macbook Pro notebooks
  • iPads for portfolio reviews and presentations
Justin shoots with a Fuji x10. Jay B shoots with a Fuji x100 and a Mamiya AFD / Phase One P30+ digital back combo. Casey shoots with a Cambo / Phase One P45+ combo.

Furniture & Accessories

  • Mid-century seating, custom designed and built desks using recovered wood.
  • Window seating made using recovered wood and plumbing piping from Home Depot.
  • Lego Space Shuttle - found at the Lego store.
  • Talk Like A Texan Cards
  • Floating Shelves in Casey and Jay B's office - Blue Dot
  • Desk lamps and wall sconces were built by Casey and Jay B from Home Depot supplies.
  • "Leave me alone" desk flags were custom made by Shaun Lind.

Design Resources:

  • University of Texas surplus (student of faculty)
  • Texas State Surplus office on Bohlm Road
  • Uncommon Objects
  • Uptown Modern
  • Room Service
  • Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
  • Urban Remains in Chicago (flatfile)

Be sure to check out Public School to see the work produced in this magnificent space.

(Images: Chris Perez)