Meld Design | Local Talent

12/10/2012 | Amy Tibbals
Cody Derrick

Simply enough, I fell in love with the Meld duo over drinks at Sea Salt. Gary Vlasic and Kara DiOrio are each as charming as they are inspiring [which is why Sea Salt, fingers crossed, will be the first of several meet-and-drinks]. They have a commitment to our city's creative class that's infectious, to say the least. Meld is a complete architecture and design firm that's doing some top-shelf work, and having seen them in action in their incredible, storefront creative space, I can attest to the effort that yields such stellar results. Read on. These folks have a love for and a dedication to our city that will undoubtedly play a healthy role in making it the creative mecca it should be...

I respect you guys for many reasons, one of the most significant being your influence on SLC. I like that you've been helping to create a more interesting city for all of us. Tell me about that. We have both spent the better part of our adult lives in SLC and, in one way or another, have been immersed in the art and design community. Collectively, our disciplines include architecture, performing and fine art, interior and textile design, culinary and event planning. Within each of these areas we have been driven by our passion for beauty and intelligent design. We’ve had the good fortune to work on projects for such notable organizations as Sundance Institute, UMOCA, International Sculpture Center, 2001 Winter Olympics, and numerous private residences. In each case, we have worked to enrich the cultural and visual landscape in and around SLC.

What changes have you seen in the creative/design/arts/culture landscape of our little city over the years? SLC is a more interesting place than it was 20 years ago. Greater cultural and ethnic diversity has created a deeper pool of talents and influences, making Salt Lake a more vibrant city on many levels.  We see more interest in design, especially contemporary design, which is very exciting to us.

What is Meld? Why did each of you choose the other in this business venture? We’ve been friends for many years and have often consulted with each other on various projects. Our long history together led us to realize that we had the same aspiration to create a design studio. Simply put, our vision was to create beauty. The idea for Meld started to take shape a year ago. We knew at the core of Meld we would focus on architecture, interior design and experiential design -- the permanent and the temporary. But we wanted Meld to be more than that. We wanted it to be an open studio engaged in all kinds of design and art projects, and very importantly, we wanted Meld to engage with other designers and artisans, locally. Our company is about melding disciplines, styles, and people to produce exceptional and unexpected results.

What is unique about your process? We love to collaborate. We consider it the heart and soul of Meld. We aim to keep an open dialogue with each other and with our fellow collaborators, architect, Stephen Tobler, and designer, Jessica Bender, to ensure that the design process is rewarding, and the end result authentic. We strive to create the perfect space or experience every time. Our fabricators, vendors, and local artisans are an integral part of that process.

What is inspiring to you as a company right now? We’re always inspired by all aspects of design: architecture, interiors, fashion, graphics, product, etc., but at the moment, we’re excited about how new technologies allow us to maintain a local focus while collaborating at a global level. We have unprecedented access to a global design community with which we can engage, and the network to interact locally with other designers -- all without leaving our office.

Tell us about the future of Meld. We have a lot of ideas for products that we’d like to create, along with a plan for opening a studio/showroom where we can showcase Meld-designed products, as well as the work of other local artisans. We envision a curatorial mix of sculpture, painting, furniture, lighting, accessories, installation art, etc. It will be a studio/laboratory of sorts that will explore the lines between art, architecture, and design through shows, discussions, events. A place where we have the freedom to explore design in all its forms, and most importantly, a place that is alive with collaboration and sense of humor. We seek to create our corner in this city that is vibrant, alive, provocative and sustainable. A centerpiece for all that we love and all that inspires us. Stay tuned.

As a fellow designer, I'm always looking to collaborate with other creatives [particularly intelligent, lovely, kind ones like yourselves]. What should we dream about working on together? Let’s dream about a boutique hotel, restaurant concepts, live-work spaces, gallery spaces, multi-media experiences, pop-ups, you name it. Let’s dream about ways to make SLC a greater place to live. Let’s get busy.

Meld Design | 801.244.8162

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