Andy’s Nerd Cave

published Jul 20, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Andy DuCett
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Size: Studio 20′ x 26′ (house: 1,100 sq. ft.)
Years Lived In: 6 years

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That was the headline that caught my eye over on my Facebook feed, leading me to Andy DuCett’s plans to convert a 12,000 sq. ft. gallery space into a magnificent art installation, a Katamari Damacy mishmash of “interactive elements, cultural ephemera, video projections and performances, set in a series of interlocking and varied vignettes”.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

His Kickstarter video included glimpses of his studio space, revealing the duality of an artist with an affinity for order and display, yet also keeps a collection which could be described as the best garage sale waiting to happen. Andy was kind enough to give us a tour of his home studio…

Our Style:
We get a lot of our furniture and tchotchkes from estate, surplus, and garage sales. It’s not that we’re out looking for things specifically, but sometimes things sort of ask to be taken home because whatever “it” is would fit so nicely with everything else. I’m not sure what sort of style that is, but it’s fun to think of how everything changes when you introduce something new or change something around.

The inspiration for my home office:
Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in order and display. I’d line up my t-ball trophies (in descending order of size or importance) and 1st place ribbons (from “the shoe kick”, an elementary school “field day” event that I was surprisingly good at for being so short) and think about hierarchy when arranging things on a shelf. I really liked how all the stuff around me reminded me about other things which reminded me about other things and so on and so forth. While my office benefits from really beautiful morning light and a great desk, it’s all of the objects that I surround myself with that really make it a space I want to spend time in.

I also have my real “office”, my studio in my two-car garage. I didn’t want to have to pay rent for a studio in Minneapolis and I needed room to make large-scale installations. All of my different studios up to this point have been a road map for what I have now. I feel really fortunate to have my current space to work in, it fits my needs perfectly. I should also note that the workbench in my space was the original workbench that was in the precariously leaning one-stall garage that was there before it was torn down and the current garage was built. I also found out that it was the sink base, hauled out of the kitchen in the 1920’s era house. It was a pain to rip it out of the old garage, but I’m glad an old piece of the house survived.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Favorite element in your space:
All of it together. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true. I don’t think I could single out just one thing.

Biggest challenge in designing my space:
Figuring out how to best use the space for the different mediums I work with. There had to be a section to do large scale drawings, so the moveable wall in front of the garage door was a great way to make that possible and make that side of the garage usable. The rest of the wall and floor space had to be devoted to my sculptural installations, as those can get quite large.

What friends say about my space:
I’ll address this question to my office, or the “nerd cave.” After seeing my growing collection of toys and action figures displayed at a few different apartments and such, a friend of mine finally asked, “So… dude, what do girls think of this when they see this?”. Ouch. But a fair question! With most people, it’s pretty much the same word, said in two very different ways: “oh!” If there’s an upwards inflection, they’re into it, if there’s a downward tone, that’s usually pity! Thank heavens my wife was the former, and my office was actually the thing that she first heard about me, as in “you’ve got to meet this guy, you’re really going to like him. He’s a nerd too.”

Area where there is room for improvement/future project:
The biggest thing my studio needs is better light. When I strike it rich with post-softball-bar-pulltabs, I’m going to put in a few skylights. The next space I have will have better considered natural light. The overhead fluorescents work great, but after 10 hours, you need a different kind of light.

Proudest DIY project:
My studio itself. The garage was framed in, so my uncle and I insulated, sheet rocked, mudded, taped, heated, wired and finished the space to what it is now… it was a lot of fun.

Biggest indulgence with respect to my space:
In looking at the images, I think I have too many to name. So, how about, “stuff”.

Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into home:
Thinking about what you need ahead of time, so you best know how to hide it while making it easily accessible.

Dream source for stuff:
For my installations, a place like Elsewhere in Greensboro, NC was the most incredible place to work. Zillions of options and being able to leave everything behind. One of the more amazing places I’ve ever been. Also, I heard that there is a residency program at the San Francisco dump that I’d love to do someday. It worries my mother and mother in-law that I say things like, “I’d like to root around in Bay Area trash for a while.” It shouldn’t. It sounds awesome.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Home tech hardware:

  • Apple MacBook Pro 17″
  • Apple display
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Canon 40D w/ 18-105 L series lens
  • Rega P1 turntable
  • Bellari Tube Phono Preamp
  • Epson 1250 scanner
  • HP printer (I could use a new printer and scanner!)
  • LaCie backup hard drive

I need a lot of shelving to store my collections or different studio objects, as well as some comfy seating. I have an old wooden desk and chair in my office, and a barber chair in my studio. That chair was given to me by a law firm who had fired the lawyer who brought the chair in. They just wanted it out.

Too many to account for, my spaces tend to have accessorized accessories.

In my studio, task lamps, living room lamps, lava lamp, nine overhead fluorescent lights, and desk fluorescents on the work bench.

Additional elements:
On a side note: I’ve been working on a solo exhibition called “Why We Do This” for the last two and a half years. It’ll be at The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and it opens on September 8th, running through November 11.

I started a Kickstarter campaign to help rent a section of a commercial airliner for the show, which was out of our budget. Huh ? What the hell does that mean? Have a look here! Your questions and more can be answered in a short 2 min video below, with just a week or so left to get some pretty cool rewards as a way to say thanks for any support.

(Images: Andy DuCett)