Live from TED

A deconstructed glass house: Bob Greenberg at TED2014

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Bob Greenberg. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Bob Greenberg, founder and CEO of R/GA, dreamed up the opening titles for TED4 back in 1994, designing a delightful scroll of lines that playfully dance into the formation of the block letters of TED. Greenberg comes to TED2014 to tell us about a house. More specifically, his house.

“I grew up in Chicago, and I was very influenced by design and architecture, specifically the Bauhaus,” he says. “I also wanted to live in a glass house in the forest.”

The glass house, of course, is an icon—Mies Van Der Rohe built one, and so did Philip Johnson. In fact, the later is often quoted as saying, “Doing a house is so much harder than doing a skyscraper.”

As Greenberg and his wife set about to build their glass house in the woods, they were influenced by a temple in Japan, which separated its buildings by the seasons. The two adopted this idea, and created a design for a “deconstructed house” made of four smaller units—one for eating, one for exercising, a main house and a guest house—each informed by the design of the Airstream trailer that they lived in during construction. The house is tied together by heated sidewalks, and each space in it is filled with simple furniture and Chinese Buddhist sculpture. Everything in the house is controllable on an iPad.

So what did Greenberg get out of this process? “The main thing I learned in building this house is how similar it is information architecture,” he says. A fitting thought for someone who’s innovated in all spaces of of advertising, communications and motion graphics.