WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
ADMIT IT, YOU HAVE AN INQUIRING MIND, AND YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE TEAM DESIGNING AND OUTFITTING YOUR HOME. WHJ’s SHOP TALK CONVERSATIONS WITH BEND LOCALS ARE HERE TO HELP.
MPC DESIGN STUDIO
Michael Philip Curtis, OWNER
MPC Design Studio is small residential design studio based in Portland with a focus on high-performance residential projects. Michael’s dedication to improving his craft and his love for drawing and design is the foundation for his work. Michael believes that being able to inspire and interpret a client’s vision is an art in communication more than anything. The result of that communication is a building made
of wood, concrete, and steel.
What geographic areas do you serve?
From the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and everywhere in between.
What’s your architectural and educational background?
I graduated from Auburn University’s School of Architecture in 2004, and practiced Architecture in Birmingham, where I was a lead designer and project manager for nine years on select projects located throughout the country.
I started to pursue my own passions in 2010 and began teaching art and taking on projects of all types with my own clients. I would spend a few days a week teaching high school art at a nonprofit art studio and teaching a fifth-year Architecture Design studio, while working nights designing. On the days in between teaching, I was working on design-build projects, renovations, making custom furniture, and fabrication, as well as public art installations.
My design studio is now in Portland’s Pearl District, where the focus is on select bespoke residential design with a careful attention to the site, the building, and its people. I collaborate with private owners, engineers, architects, interior designers, and craftsmen of all types to provide a tailored design experience.
Describe your process–how do you work with clients, contractors, and interior designers?
I like to start the schematic process by hand instead of the computer. Hand-sketching is a natural means of communication for me and it’s easier to dream when I don’t have to always rely on the computer. When a design comes directly from the hand and onto paper, it’s an organic discovery. This is a direct way to conceptualize and still leaves a bit of mystery to the design, discovering nuances, improvements, and bits of luck along the way.
Once I have a concept, the design develops into extremely detailed CAD drawings and engineered plans that are used for construction. As building begins, I work closely to support the owner, builder, and project team to execute the design in the field.
What projects are you most excited about right now?
One is a timber-framed modern farm compound in wine country, which has a separate master built of reclaimed board form concrete, a glass and concrete greenhouse/conservatory, and a silo for water storage and an observation deck. I also am working on a LEED Gold house in the Brasada Ranch community in Bend, as well as a project that is tracking to meet Passive House requirements with the use of ICF construction, geo-thermal, Tesla solar shingles, and Powerwall backup.
What do you enjoy most about designing buildings/houses?
I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and having the ability to create for a living. Designing a house to me is like creating sculpture or art. Except it must keep you dry, warm, and safe.
How did you get your start here?
I was living in Birmingham and a house I designed for a client was featured in a regional publication. Not long after that I got a call from a couple from Oregon and they wanted me to design and assist with the build of their house in the Willamette Valley. After a short visit, my wife and I decided to pack up our life and migrate west with our two children, towing our small pop-up camper trailer I had recently restored. As soon as we got settled, I began designing and working with the intention of finding projects throughout the Pacific Northwest and the country as a whole.
If you weren’t an architect, what would you be doing?
I often fantasize about paddling down river on a drift boat or poling on a salt flat in the Gulf of Mexico as a fishing guide. I also really enjoy working in my shop whenever I have the opportunity and could see myself restoring cars or building wooden boats. I also imagine when I’m older, that “tinkering” will be one of my favorite hobbies.
What do you listen to while you are working?
Rock, blues, soul, jazz, country, you name it! My recent playlist has been Greg Allman, Leon Russell, Charley Crockett, Taj Mahal, Steve Gunn, The National, War on Drugs, Albert King and SRV, Tom Mish, Miles Davis, Kamasi Washington, Coltrane.
What do you enjoy most about living where you do?
My office is in Portland and I love being able to hop on my bike to run an errand or get a quick ride in if I need to get out of the studio. We live outside of the city, so I particularly enjoy the experience and duality of the city and country life. It’s pretty cool to live in a state where you can snowboard, fly fish, and play golf in one day if you want to or live regionally based on your lifestyle.
Tommy Chambers, Owners
Established in 2008, Home Fridays optimizes the opportunity for enjoyment in owning a second home in Central Oregon. Their motto…”Your second home. Our first priority.”
As the gold standard of Home Watch services, the Home Fridays team is well known for their warmth of communication and service to enrich the Central Oregon experience as well as for their sincerity in the responsibility of keeping a home safe and secure.
Leading the industry in utilizing PropTech platforms, they provide a property management experience with technology that is unobtrusive yet reduces the greatest risks and costs of having a second home.
What geographic areas do you serve?
Central Oregon’s “Golden Triangle” from Sun River to Smith Rock to Sisters with our office right in the middle of it all backing up to the Deschutes River in Bend near the Old Mill District.
What specialized services do you offer?
Home Watch, Home Management, and Concierge Services.
What are the keys to high-end property management?
A thoughtful, communicative, and respectful team committed to our mission: Treating your second home as our first priority.
Depth of service capability through innovative technologies and team infrastructure. We call this a “Capacity to Care” (C2C) score in property management. A good C2C means more attention to the property and clients, more responsive communication, less liability, optimizing the alignment of financial interests with the client, and minimizing staff turnover.
How do you see your field changing in the next five to ten years?
There are many exciting changes coming to the property management industry; homes are equipped with more complex systems. The designs as well as the products within each home are more heterogeneous, more distinct, and more specialized than ever before.
The biggest changes coming are the organization and service response to “smart homes” and the systems within becoming more diverse and more environmentally-friendly.
Connecting with the homeowners and building a trusting relationship over time. Many clients have become friends; many friends have become clients.
How did you get your start?
Both of my grandfathers worked for the CIA, and my maternal grandfather was asked to start a cover business in the 1970s, which did some legitimate real estate and property management services and mostly “other work” to meet the auxiliary real estate needs for the agency. That business, based in Virginia, offered housing for witness protection, safe houses, facilitating identity-change, etc. My mother was working for the company when my father came in as a customer, inquiring about buying an investment property in the area for his first overseas assignment, and the rest is history. I started working there in 2001, and I consulted with investors buying, selling, and leasing homes, and emphasized the more typical residential property management services. In 2018, I started Chambers Theory property management and we maintain quality control through our “Capacity to Care” model with full intention.
Much of my clientele today is still representative of our past affiliation with the IC, U.S. Foreign Service, and military personnel who are posted overseas for a few years. They have homes to care for, and it’s their residences they plan to come back to after serving our country abroad. I sometimes call myself an “entrepreneur of destiny” because I lead companies that provide a service based on the very reason my parents met, which brought me into this world.
There always has been a higher calling of care when my clients were coming back to their own homes after serving U.S. interests overseas as compared to the common investor who tended to place importance on only the investment numbers. That higher calling of care is what forged my teams and is how we deliver property management services, both optimizing outcomes for a client’s ROI and for the emotional experience of a client returning to their own home. This aspect and higher calling of care in a home (or second home) is what fascinated me about Home Fridays and the Home Watch industry.
In early 2021, I acquired Home Fridays and it is a big part of my overall vision to serve and become a prominent part of the community here in Oregon and the Northwest.
If you weren’t in property management, what would you be doing?
I jest that maybe I’d be a magician or a restauranteur (flipping pancakes at a family breakfast-entertainment restaurant), yet most likely I’d be a real estate developer on the forefront of Green R.E.D. (Green Real Estate Developments).
What places in the world do you find most inspirational?
For me, “inspiring” calls for an element of hope and possibility. There is something special and inspiring about overcoming adversity and ironically satisfying about countering that adversity to bring out the best in something. Bend offers this inspiration to me for several reasons… it’s the high desert and yet a river runs through it that offers life, culture, and adventure. Most interesting is how Bend has overcome the adversity and irony of a town built on its logging and timber industry, which created an ecological disaster and an aesthetically depressed town and instead found a way to evolve into a beautiful town that lives nobly with nature and promotes the outdoors as a healthy and responsible community.
Seeing a picture of Bend 30-40 years ago versus what it has become today is totally inspiring!