Style & Substance: Megan

Name: Megan Page Bullock
Age: 27
Location: Brooklyn, New York / Charleston, West Virginia

You are one of those arty creatures who sees beauty in the little things. What advice do you have for people who stumble blindly through their lives?

I don’t know if I’d ever claim to be a ‘non-stumbler’, but seeing beauty in little things is really just empathising with the world around you. Being able to notice things that other people might not—the way a room feels, a favorite coat, your breakfast, the man next to you on the train—means you can find the intrinsic beauty in anything.

Running an independent design firm across two different states must be a challenge. Charleston, West Virginia and Brooklyn, New York must sometimes feel worlds apart. What do they bring to each other in terms of design?

The differences are fairly obvious, but they are both places I know well and traffic in inspiration. I grew up in West Virginia but have always had a close relationship with New York; most of my family is here.

Small towns are chock full of vintage typography and architecture; Charleston in particular is surrounded by an Appalachian wilderness full of unexplored forests, old-time music, and mountain culture – all good remedies to clear a full head.

New York, in contrast, overflows with information, new typography, and people constantly testing, pushing and pulling on ideas. I am a sucker for typography. So it’s great to have all these inputs, but also the more work I do, the more overlaps I see, and I think in a lot of ways, those overlaps are at the heart of so much of my aesthetic.

Do you have a favourite project to date?

A traveling exhibition – “People Building Better Cities” – which is set to open in January 2013 in Chennai. It’s a personal project I’m doing in collaboration with Global Studio, a program that brings together designers from around the world to work locally with marginalised communities to involve them in the development of the places they live.

The exhibition is meant to be a platform for dialogue about urban inclusive development amidst the international design community. I think it’s so important (and truly potent!) for more people to use design to address the problems of international informal housing and slum growth, public transportation, the food we eat (and don’t eat), and the way we develop the places we live.

People Building Better Cities, a partnership with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and made possible by the SAPPI Ideas that Matter grant, will travel to 6 different countries and 12 cities over the next year.

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The Charleston Mesh studio was an empty shell before you got to it. What is it about historic restoration that floats your boat?

Space is so important to me— I’m constantly arranging and rearranging (and rearranging again) the spaces I live and work in until they feel right. I love the mixology of old and new. An industrial steel table on top of a 100 year old floor I’ve sanded and stained myself is worth every minute of that work. I’m a firm believer in getting your hands dirty. I also love feeling tired to the bone at the end of a labor-intensive work day, complimented by the thought you are bringing something back to life.

If you could distil your experience of India into one moment, what would it be?

But there are so many moments! Sambar, rassam, and rice on the floor of any rooftop, eating with my right hand, listening to the city-sounds of auto rickshaws, festivals, multiple languages, and calls to prayer. At my house by myself, with a family, or with my closest friends in that lovely country- a group of 15 year old girls from Parikrma. I spend most of my precious time with when I’m there. If I’m with them, they are most likely braiding my hair, covering my arms with bangles, or explaining to me the subtleties of being a woman.

Is the Instagram world a place of creative genius, or are we all just looking through rose tinted glasses?

“Genius” is a strong word, but I do think it’s a legitimate creative outlet . For people with visual memories, who document experiences visually, it’s the best type of social media so far. It’s immediacy allows for a lot of candidness, and I really love its square format. But I’d say its filters give us this sense of nostalgia that we haven’t really earned.

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If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?

I’d tell so many people to never settle.

Men’s narratives have changed dramatically over the last decade. What’s your take on the modern man?

I think the storyline of the modern man has evolved just as much as the modern woman. It’s all about having choices, and carrying those choices well. I personally love a man that can cook (and chop firewood!), but I also like a man that can break these conventional stereotypes. I love being surprised by people. In my book, there is really no predefined recipe for masculinity. I find people most attractive (and men most masculine) when they are doing what they love – and really owning it.

you could wake up every morning to a particular smell. What aroma would you pick?

Coffee and cardamom.

You set the bar for design, beauty and creativity pretty high. If a future partner were ever to try and impress you into accepting a proposal of marriage, how would he have to go about it?

Most likely, if I were ever to cross that bridge, I would do the asking. If I was proposed to, though, I’d hope for something unassuming, unpredictable, and uncontrived. No diamonds or white table cloths. I’d prefer a handmade ring made by my good friend, Melissa, and mountain air.

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