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Two DAAP Alums Found Three Successful Businesses in Portland, Oregon

DAAP alums and husband-and-wife design team Eric Day and Melissa Williams Day are currently operating as part of three successful businesses in Portland, Oregon.

Date: 6/17/2012
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Melissa and Eric Day
Good things come in threes, and that includes successful businesses.
 
Just ask University of Cincinnati alumni Melissa Williams Day, who graduated from UC’s top-ranked architecture program in 2003, and her husband, Eric Day, who graduated from the nationally ranked industrial design program in 2005.
Melissa Williams Day and Eric Day
UC alums Melissa Williams Day and Eric Day


 
The couple, currently residing and working in Portland, Oregon, is currently operating as part of three successful businesses. Those are
  • Transom Design/Build is a full-service design consultancy and general contracting specializing in small space design for modern residential and commercial fabrication and installations.
  • Terrene, a design and fabrication operation focusing on hand-cast concrete objects made from a proprietary lightweight mix blended by the entrepreneurs.
  •  Think Monumental, where Melissa works with an East Coast partner on retail design, brand strategy and consumer insights.
 Melissa explains that their first business was Transom Design/Build, and they just happened to be their own clients remodeling their own mid-century home.
 
She recalls, “We were experimenting with concrete for a couple of items for the house, and people started asking for the pieces we were creating. Terrene was born.”
 
However, it took the couple nearly a year of development to hit upon an ideal lightweight concrete formula and ingredients. Again, Melissa recalls, “Eric experimented with various fillers, glass fibers, and proportions to find the right ingredients and proportions. After nearly a year of development and nearly 30 samples around our studio, we got the formula we wanted last year.”
 
And the third enterprise, Think Monumental is a business Melissa joined after her employer closed shop, leaving her without a place of employment or a design team but with plenty of branding clients. So, she teamed up with two East Coast partners at Think Monumental.
 
As is to be expected, the competitive pace and challenging workload within UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) served as the perfect training ground for both Eric, who is originally from Massillon, Ohio, and Melissa, who is originally from Columbus, Ohio.
 
Both remember the college challenge of the short timetable, whether in studio or on co-op, to see a project through to completion. And, in fact, Eric says the one thing from DAAP that holds him in good stead today is speed. It’s as necessary now as it was then, so much so that he admits, “Sometimes, I feel like I never left design school.”
 
He adds, “The thing I learned at DAAP that I’m still using is rapid concepting and visualization, skills I learned in the trans studio. I had to hone my ability to quickly communicate, and that’s invaluable with non-visual peers today.”
 
And their founding of Terrene can be traced all the way back to Melissa’s days in architecture studio: “It was a material I learned to appreciate. It takes the form of whatever you put it in, but it is a living material so it responds to its environment, whether humidity, cold, heat or moisture.”
 
Not surprisingly, they advise today’s DAAP students to “challenge yourselves to go  outside your comfort zone. The ability to push through the fear of failure and make something work is when it gets interesting. Some of our best work has come at that moment. In fact, if you’re not a little bit scared, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
 
Sounds like the right advice...times three.