The Everyday Carry of an Architect:
Jeff Shelton

The Everyday Carry of an Architect: Jeff Shelton

By Paige Alexus
“You never know when an idea may creep out of your head, and you need to be ready to record it.” - Jeff Shelton

"Certain types of ideas live in certain instruments."

Photo by Chris Jenkins

What you need to know about Jeff: 

Working out of a turn-of-the-century barn in downtown Santa Barbara, California, Jeff Shelton describes his work as being "asymmetrically symmetrical—and a bit over the top." He works with local artisans to create bold masterpieces that are clearly Mediterranean-inspired. As an architect and graphic designer who draws his plans by hand, he also designs furniture and lighting.

  1. Moleskine pocket notebooks: "To remember it all. I label and keep them after they’re full so that I can go back and look up important information. I have 120 of them so far."
  2. Yard stick: "To measure just about anything."
  3. Compass: "I swing a compass to space stuff out."
  4. Harmonica: "I play this to get lost. This one is a Hohner Special 20 Classic."
  5. Wet pen: "To define my thoughts. I use Paper Mates and Pigma Micron pens for detailed work or if I need to write in the rain."
  6. Mechanical pencil: "To delineate ideas. I usually use Pentel Twist-Erase .07 mechanical pencils."
  7.  Soft pencil: "To find the big picture before getting caught up in details too soon. If you start by using a pen, you might focus too fast and miss some good ideas. I use soft Staedtler pencils to sketch."
  8. Portable decision maker: "I made this to remind my clients who is making the decisions. Too many cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for a bad project. We mounted it to a light board so that it can be set on a desk or put up on the wall. If you’re interested, we can make one for you. Let us know here."
  9. Ink pad, date stamp, and name stamp: "I use rubber stamps to formalize everything."
  10. Grid paper and tracing paper: "To work things out."
  11. White Out and eraser: "To omit bad ideas."
  12. Tape ball: "To keep my office clean."
  13. Note cards: "I write these to keep everyone on my team focused. They represent emotions that usually come up. I place them in front of me during meetings, depending on where it’s taking place."
  14. Frisbee: "This helps me think. I taught frisbee at Santa Barbara Middle School and have collected hundreds of flying discs since then."

"I gauge a good year by how big my wad of used drafting tape is. Less is more." 

Keep up with Jeff’s work by following him here.


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