PaperCity Magazine

October 2019- Houston

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42 K elie Mayfield and Erick Ragni like to have a little fun with the name of their interior architecture firm, Mayfield and Ragni Studio — MaRS. "My personal favorite is calling a courier and asking them to send the package to MaRS," Mayfield says. And Ragni gets a kick out of introducing himself as "Erick from MaRS." Such playfulness is encouraged at the company, where the hold music is "Kung Fu Fighting" and where hip-hop, Sinatra, and podcasts stream through the offices via Sonos wireless speakers. Mayfield and Ragni, who worked together at Rottet Studio before founding MaRS in 2010, love upending the status quo. "Architecture has earned the reputation of being a serious and sober undertaking," Ragni says. "We enjoy challenging this view in the way we bring the unexpected into our projects — and MaRS is a reflection of that." Rebellion was on the agenda from the beginning. For the 2012 Texas Contemporary Art Fair, MaRS created a wildly innovative VIP lounge with shipping pallets, red balls for seating, red umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, and cable spools for tables. The VIP lounge generated as much buzz at the fair as the art, and the design world took note. Since then, MaRS's creative reach has expanded to include corporate offices, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, and residential and visionary master plans in 11 countries. In Houston, MaRS recently completed chic new offices for Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations; a stylish renovation of a mid-century building for Gulf Coast Pavers; and sleek mid-rise and high-rise residential buildings in the Museum District and Upper Kirby, including The Southmore and Avenue Grove. Currently MaRS is working on several high-profile projects for Hines, including The Preston in Houston, The Victor in Dallas, and The Adeline in Phoenix. In collaboration with Gensler, MaRS is designing the new East Downtown Houston campus for The Center for Pursuit, which treats adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. OUT OF THIS WORLD Kelie Mayfield and Erick Ragni sound off on visual memory making, the importance of doodling, and how a hangover changed the course of ice cream history. Visual storytelling. Mayfield: We often start a project by spending several days scouting and searching the city and site for the unexpected that nobody else may notice and that may only be found in that particular location. Then we reinterpret the mundane local context and turn it into something special. While we were scouting the Brazos Valley for The George hotel in College Station, we noticed the Texas flag was painted on many barn roofs — a sign of Texas pride within the region. We collaborated with artist Thedra Culler-Ledford on a reinterpreted Texas flag that consisted of almost 10,000 red, white, and blue LIFE ON MARS Inside the irreverent architecture and design firm Mayfield and Ragni Studio, MaRS BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PORTRAITS ANDREW OKANO. MaRS renovated a mid-century building for Gulf Coast Pavers in Houston. The George hotel in College Station features a wall by artist Thedra Culler-Ledford made from 10,000 red, white, and blue books recreating the Texas flag.

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