Six years ago, Gavin Froome set out with friend Mike Bernard to explore the Pacific Northwest coastline — and its legacy of modernist architecture. The result is “Coast Modern,” an independent documentary that’s been featured in festivals across the globe and is about to show again on June 4 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Between touring for the film and his work as a freelance art director and music producer, he showed us around his bright, clean-lined Vancouver studio.
Tell us about your background and how it led to “Coast Modern.” I work as a freelance art director, music producer, and more recently, a filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC. I’ve made numerous records and singles for Nordic Trax Records available on vinyl and in the iTunes Store.
I got a little burned out from the club scene around 2005 and embarked on making a film to cleanse my palette and try something new. I was becoming more and more obsessed with mid-century design and architecture and wanted to get to the bottom of it. After working five years part time with my co-director Mike Bernard, we released “Coast Modern” in May 2012 to a receptive worldwide audience. The film has taken us to festivals in Italy, New York, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Portland, and New Zealand, to name a few. We play LA this June 4 at the Hammer Museum and we’re designing a DVD package with some great bonus materials and a booklet for a June 2013 release. The film is also on its way to the iTunes Store this July. Big shouts to our producer Leah Mallen at Twofold Films and editor Peter Roeck. We haven’t screened in Michigan yet, so maybe Herman Miller could put on an event in Zeeland…
Tell us about yourself and your work: what you’re passionate about, what inspires you, and where you’re going. I’m inspired by my family, nature, music, and food. I like when technology reaches a point where it can facilitate creativity on a large scale. In the early 90s, MIDI technology, affordable computers, and discarded 80′s drum machines came together in a way that made making records at home possibility. Kids around the world pushed electronic music to new levels and I got involved with that and still continue to explore it.
More recently, the DSLR video/high-speed Internet combo and platforms like Vimeo and WordPress have given aspiring filmmakers the ability to produce incredible-looking work independently. I love the Internet and the possibilities that it creates, but I also believe in turning it off. Kids need to learn how to build a raft after a two-day hike into the mountains.
Describe your space. What’s your aesthetic? What do you like or dislike about it? We just moved into a great old Post & Beam in West Vancouver that we’re renovating. It’s classic open plan with an incredible connection to the outside. In the office, we’ve done simple plywood built-ins for records and a long shared table for everyone to work around. My wife Jody should actually be featured here — she has a great aesthetic and the ability to bring ideas to life. We’re soon building a detached music “shed” in the garden out of some renovation scraps, which is very exciting — modernism at its best, intended to connect people to one other and to nature. We’re just building on that 95-year-old idea. One thing I would love is a sunken living room. Why did those go out of style? Bring back sunken living rooms!
You have a few pieces by Charles and Ray Eames in your space. Why did you choose them? We bought our first Herman Miller piece (an Eames Sofa Compact) about 14 years ago while living in Boston. We’ve since added a few other classic Herman Miller pieces both new and used. Every time we add another piece it’s a considered decision that will be with us for life.
The thing about buying authentic Herman Miller is you only have to buy it once. Cheap knock-offs are an insult to everyone — the designers, the manufacturers, the craftspeople that build them, and the landfills they ultimately occupy. Authentic furniture can be expensive, but every piece we buy will serve our entire lives, my daughter’s life, and if we decide to sell it, someone else’s life. Buy something once and get on with living.
Photos: Tina Kulic