We got to know Michael Jantzen, who makes us question our perception of space thanks to his extraordinary methods, through his dream-like house projects. Successfully bearing the titles of conceptual designer, artist, architect and engineer, Jantzen replied to the questions we were curious about.
How did you start designing your buildings? What was your motivation behind in the beginning?
I started designing buildings right after high school at age 18. I have always been interested in alternative ways in which to live. I am not an architect but an artist who often uses architecture as an art form. I was also inspired early on by people like Buckminster Fuller who I knew when I was a student at Southern Illinois University (where I did my undergraduate work) and then also at Washington University in St. Louis, where I did my graduate work. He inspired me to think about alternative, energy efficient, sustainable designs that could help to make the world a better place for all of humanity. So from early on I have been interested in designing very practical structures, and those that merge art, architecture, technology, and sustainability.
You say, “extreme innovation is my goal”. Can you explain this?
I am always interested in re-inventing the world around me as an artist/designer. I am not interested in style to direct the aesthetics of my work. I try to let the re-invention of the work direct how it needs to look. Trying to adhere to a specific aesthetic in order to maintain a certain look can often get in the way of how a thing should work. This is especially true when trying to maintain a conventional aesthetic in the design of a building, especially a house. So for me extreme innovation means to re-think everything and try to design something better, no matter how it ends up looking!
You also use the word “sustainability” a lot in your work descriptions. What does that word mean to you?
Of course this depends on the specific project. In general I always try to design my architecture, art, etc. so that it adds something to the planet instead of depleting its resources. As an example, I often design public art projects that become public gathering places at the same time they gather energy from the sun, the wind, and collect rainwater for the communities in which they are built.
Are your works independent from each other? Or dependent pieces of a bigger project?
Most of my work is independent from each other as specific projects. However, there is a thinking process that runs through all of the work that allows one thing to influence the next in a direct way, or indirect, depending on the goals.
What is your dream space that you would like to build one of your projects?
Of course it depends of the project. I am living now in Santa Fe New Mexico and this would be a great place for some of my structures! I see most of my work placed into a rural setting, but perhaps I should also look more at how to affect the urban landscape?