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Edgar Blazona Interview

Edgar Blazona is someone accustomed to creating products for mass production. As a furniture designer for Pottery Barn and now a consumer hard goods product designer with clients such as Target, Edgar knows how to design for manufacturability. So what is he up to with his hand-made prefab structures? We spoke to Edgar Blazona in September 2004.

fpf It seems you believe in "learning by doing"?

Edgar Blazona

It has been quite a journey these last four years concentrating my design efforts toward prefab construction. From day one I have felt that for me it is best to build. I am a big believer in the do it rather than just talk, draw pretty pictures, and imagine how great it could be. I truly believe that the best progression in ones art comes from the biggest mistakes. Therefore I feel it is vital to build, even at the smallest scale, to create your dream, learn from what you did right and remember it, see what you did wrong, and quite frankly get off your design horse and do something about it.
fpf Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get interested in these types of structures?

Bedside table

I started designing furniture out of necessity , I had just moved into my own place senior year of high school. I grew up in a design driven family were it was only natural to create your own enviorment. I started welding my own furniture, which eventually turned into my career. After years of designing furniture for mass production I became interested in housing and the fact that most people interested in modernism could not afford a true modern life style. They live in Victorians, cottages, and even McMansions out of pure necessity - they can't afford to live in one of the few modern houses in the United States. I created the first Modular dwellings for this need within my own family, with a new born and the vast red and blue plastic toys slowly filling my Eames furnished cottage home I realized there must be others in the same predicament. With all my mass furniture production experience I set out to create a backyard structure that truly utilized these mass production techniques.
 fpf   Your projects have a sense of craftsmanship about them. You obviously enjoy building?


It is funny with these building because it is truly a labor of love. I love to build but the real benefit to prefab is mass production. I will never stop building per se, but I need to find a factory that can handle the production and keep up with demand. There are many people waiting for me to truly produce a mass manufactured home!
fpf   Is your “handmade” approach scalable in a production sense? Do you feel your designs can be mass produced?

MD100 being assembled

I feel that my designs have always been based on mass manufacturing methods - this is my work background. Some of my personal construction methods work well on a limited run but I am open to change and willing to work towards the future within the right manufacture. I am in the middle of making these adjustments as we speak and will bring a building to the masses soon. The time has come for me to make that step.


fpf There is a progression in your work, with increasing scale and level of detailing. You seem to be getting more confident in your use of materials and the type of projects you are taking on.

Ceiling detail MD280

Yeah you are right, I have continued to increase both the size and scope of my work. Over the years I have been able figure out what really works and continue to perfect them. The materials have evolved and so has my scale. I have tried to continue to progress in the world of prefab. My continued effort has allowed me to experiment.This is ultimately what will help me create a building that can truly be masses produced.
fpf   Do you have any plans to migrate from small scale relocatable structures to larger dwellings more suitable as a permanent residence?
EB   Although small scale dwellings have been a passion and a part of my experimentation, I am starting to work in a larger scale. I feel I can use my knowledge of both furniture design as well as small living and smartly adapt them to a permanent residence. I still believe there is a market for secondary structures, and vacation homes but the time has come for me to offer a “real” residence.
fpf Tell us your thoughts on working with steel?

Ceiling detail MD280

I am still not convinced that wood is the best method of home building. The problem really lies with our building departments. They tend to be far from progressive and just want to follow suit. The prefab housing manufacturers are stuck with working with the building departments but also have “good ol’ boy" wood contracts and can't fathom the thought of trying new things that might damage their multi-billion dollar housing industry. I will continue to develop steel with a passion but I will need to work within standards to keep the progression of prefab alive.



MD280 is your latest project. Tell us how you came up with the configuration. What needs do you see it solving?



The MD 280 is my latest project and largest to date, This is my first structure to have a full kitchen and full bath. The layout came from California shipping standards. I wanted to create a dwelling that was eye pleasing and carried the overall look of my previous structures. One of my signature design details is to always have a clear or translucent corner. You can see this loud and clear in this structure. I feel that this size of structure lends it’s self to the need of secondary housing, vacation housing, and more importantly the need of what is now called “granny housing” which is really just a backyard rental with all the emenities.
fpf   You plan on selling the MD280 prototype on eBay?

I am very interested in Ebay’s technology, I think that it actually goes hand in hand with the "new” prefab technology. It's an open marketplace. Let's bring together the best in online sales and add it with what will become the greatest change in recent architecture!
[The eBay auction of the MD280 prototype will commence on October 14 2004. The reserve price is $39,000 and the auction will run for 10 days. All appliances are included. Ed]

fpf   Thanks for talking with us Edgar, we will continue to follow your product evolution - and good luck with the auction.

Thank you to fabprefab!

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