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Dwellings for the Digital Nomad

David Celento,

Originally posted on October 21, 2010

Technology Art Design

When choices are either/or, Celento is drawn to both/and. In the face of a new idea, people often ask "why?" while he wonders "why not?" He, like a number of architects and designers, is a bit of a misfit.
Thus, it is little surprise that he and his wife, Rebecca's, firm, Celento Henn Architects and Designers, is somewhat unconventional — part architecture firm, part product and furniture design workshop, and part exhibit design enterprise. Their exploits during a decade of full-time practice and adjunct teaching at Carnegie Mellon University (their alma mater) led them to one simple and uncomfortable conclusion: They were ill-equipped to navigate what they perceived as the future of design — a future they felt sure would be defined by both digital production and sustainability concerns.

They decided to rewind the clock and go back to school, not as teachers, but as students. They placed their practice in a state of suspended animation, packed their bags, cats, and motorcycles into a 1957 Airstream and headed to Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD). After finishing their graduate work, the GSD created a position so that Celento could remain another year at Harvard as the Assistant Director of the GSD's CAD/CAM Lab. His wife went on to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.
Celento joined Penn State in 2007, with Rebecca following a year later, both to teach in the architecture program. At Penn State, Celento has extended his research on technological nomadism, explored digital ceramic production, and introduced students to the wonders of digital fabrication tools. He has collaborated with a number of artists, engineers, and scientists, and in so doing has discovered a delightful number of other misfits. Many of them, interested in design thinking and blurring disciplinary boundaries, banded together with Celento to create the Center for Research in Design and Innovation. He has also lectured and published vigorously in obscure academic journals, while recently having one of his articles, "Innovate or Perish," published in a collection of provocative essays entitled "Fabricating Architecture" from Princeton Architectural Press, which can be found at Amazon.com.
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