Blog: DDL

Supported by the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship we traveling across the entire country, coast to coast, in search of inspiration and adventure in North America’s western deserts. see how the time on the road and collaborations continue to unfold.

Finished up the active days of Desert Design Lab in Salt Lake City. Saying Bon-voyage to Hannah Vaughan and Jennifer Anderson. Now the long ride home! #desertdesignlab #vivianbeer #art #design  (at Pony Express RV Resort)

Finished up the active days of Desert Design Lab in Salt Lake City. Saying Bon-voyage to Hannah Vaughan and Jennifer Anderson. Now the long ride home! #desertdesignlab #vivianbeer #art #design (at Pony Express RV Resort)

DDL’s Artist Assistant Hannah Vaughan is Interviewed by Vivian Beer about starting the project in Beatty, Nevada and how desert landscape has influenced her work.

Hannah Vaughan is an artist and furniture maker based in Chicago, IL. Hannah was born in Altadena, CA she studied Fine Art and Religion at Oberlin College in Ohio and has also studied at Penland School of Craft. She has lived and exhibited in New York, North Carolina and Chicago. 

Big Hole Drillers

We all want a small trinket that reflects, or allows us to reflect, upon a trip like this. During my day ‘off’ in Beatty, I took some time to check out a few of the antique stores in town. As soon as we walked onto this block of fresh jerky, old tools and mangled trucker’s hats I knew I had struck trinket gold! In Richfield, after perusing around  ceramic cacti salt shakers, high heel handled pocket knives  and old VHS movies, I came across a case of belt buckles… one with a banjo… one with a 49er and his trusty burro… and an old simple brass one that caught my attention. .  “Big Hole Drillers”  

Both Hannah and Mariana said, ”You have to!” and thankfully I did get it. By the end of the day Mariana had sleuthed the buckle’s origin and I now feel like I have a special piece of Nevada history.


NTS refers to Nevada Test Site ( and REECO is actually Reynolds Electrical and Engineering, the main contractor at the time. There’s an oral history of Nevada’s  nuclear waste program and a transcript of an interview with a former employee, Lewis G Miller, you can check it out at

DDL's Trip Coordinator is ready to go!

At just 1 day away from leaving New Hampshire, Mariana is busy with the last few details,  as the trip coordinator she has been involved with the project since day 1: mapping the route, making reservations,  acquiring the necessary materials and helping Vivian with budgets and travel arrangements for visiting artists. Mariana was previously a Sales Coordinator at SeaWorld San Diego and brings a heap of experience perfectly suited for a project like Desert Design Lab.

Susie Silbert scheduled to visit DDL!

Susie J. Silbert is an independent curator and design historian with a background in craft and design and a passion for interpreting the built world. Her recent projects include SPRAWL, co-curated with Anna Walker at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the catalogue to Beyond Craft: Decorative Arts from the Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a data-driven analysis for the New-York Historical Society in support of the exhibition The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman: Making it Modern in addition to numerous essays on artists working in glass, ceramics, wood and metal. Silbert holds a Master’s Degree in Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center and lectures on the History of Glass at the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this project. There’s something really refreshing about a designer using a grant to facilitate not just their own work, but also the design conversation they want to have. It’s like sculpting the world along with the work.”

Her website,, will be up soon!


Trip Schedule

Palm Desert, CA - February 5-14      (8 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Salton Sea, Anza Borrego Desert, Joshua Tree

Beatty, NV – February 14-22                        (7 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Las Vegas, Beatty RV Park, Death Valley, Yucca Mountain, BLM lands

Virgin, UT - February 22-March 2     (7 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes Sate Park

Moab, UT – March 2-11                    (8 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Colorado and Green River, Canyonlands, Arches, Goblin Valley, Grand Staircase, San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef

Wendover, NV – March 11-18          (6 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Bonneville Salt Flats, Spiral Getty, Bonneville Sea Base

Ely, NV – March 18-22                       (3 days in the field)

Areas of interest: Great Basin, Mt Moriah (400 year old trees), Notch Peek and Painter’s Springs Campground

Glad to welcome Hannah Vaughan to the project!

"I’m a designer, furniture maker, welder, and chainsaw enthusiast.  I make wood and metal furniture that plays with ideas of architecture, decay, modernism and consumerism. Bright shiny and rusted, angular and rough hewn. I studied fine art and religion at Oberlin College, and have taken courses at Penland school of Craft. Currently, I live and work in Chicago IL where I’m a fine furniture maker, metal specialist and all around badass at a furniture company called Lagomorph Design.  I met Vivian when we were both stuck on the top of a mountain in North Carolina for two months, since then, it has been hard to separate us. 

   Born and raised in the desert of southern California I have an undying love for the desolate environment of sand, rock and cacti and the unique talents of boulder hopping, making a camp fire, navigating the 405 freeway and identifying the dangerous ‘jumping choya’ cactus. I’m also an excellent dancer, which I’m pretty sure is what qualified me as assistant for the Desert Design Lab”


Vivian Beer and Hannah Vaughan at Studio Works, Summer 2013