Renowned Architect's Ceramic Art Now Exhibited In Several Galleries
Richard Moren's unique design work can be seen in Las Vegas and around the world
By Diane Welch
San Diego, CA (May–June 2008) – There are two distinct and quite different facets to Richard Moren's artistic proclivities. On the one hand his conceptual architectural renderings reach forward in time with futuristic buildings that seem appropriate for the next millennium, and on the other hand his delicately constructed raku ceramics look like they have been unearthed from an archaeological site reaching back tens of thousands of years. Moren — a most prolific Del Mar based artist and AIA architect — clearly feels comfortable with this duplicity.
Now his ceramic art is being showcased in several local galleries including Trios Gallery in Solana Beach and the Enchanted Gallery in The Flower Hill Promenade. Intricately designed ovoid shaped orbs, created with coiled clay swirls forming a filigree surface, are his latest designs. Fired using Moren's self made raku kilns, the orbs have a colorful, metallic glaze that makes them truly one of a kind art pieces.
Raku fired pottery goes through an extreme process, explained Moren in a recent interview. Bisque fired and already hardened, the pieces are then coated with copper oxide glazes and refired in a raku kiln which is gas heated. "The kiln should not exceed about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, to bring the pot from room temperature to about 2,000 degrees," Moren explained, "it's a tremendous shock to the clay. It expands rapidly and contracts as it cools."
The pot is removed when it is white hot then placed it in an induction chamber with an air tight cover, which has been previously filled with combustible materials. When the pot is set in the chamber the materials immediately set on fire; the lid is placed back on and with the depletion of the oxygen, the fire is extinguished and it literally sucks the oxygen molecules out of the copper oxide glaze. What is left is a thin veneer of copper. The result is a myriad of intense iridescent metallic colors ranging from silver, to gold, reds, purples, blues, greens and copper.
The complexity of the process intrigues Moren. And the results excite him. Many of his design inspiration derives directly from Joman pottery, used initially for cooking, and named for the Joman dynasty, a period that reaches back 10,000 years.
"The base of the pot was cone shaped so that it could be inserted directly into the fire. As the Joman people flourished and became more sophisticated, so did their pots, becoming more decorative and later used mainly ceremoniously," said Moren who first became aware of this style of pottery in the mid 1970s when he had started his own architectural business in Minnesota.
Having returned to his native roots in Grand Rapids, Moren was challenged by its small town presence. With a population base of only 7,000, Moren said that he constructed "buildings practically on each street corner." Consequently, with some free time on his hands, he attended a ceramic course. At the end of the first quarter, his teacher had an unusual request. "She said I was three times better than she was, and would I mind helping teach? So I taught her students for a couple of years."
Moren ended his ceramic teachings in the mid 1980s and moved to California in 1987 to work with the architectural group, Wimberly, Allison, Tong and Goo out of Newport. Assignments called for overseas work in the Pacific Rim, and throughout the USA, designing high end hotels and resorts.
A natural artist who could draw from a very early age, Moren also loved to sculpt. During his middle school years, a history teacher — recognizing his student’s rare ability — encouraged Moren to create sculptures that tied in with the history curriculum. "I was always busy carving something," said Moren. Faced with a decision of which academic path to follow, Moren hesitated.
"I didn't know what I wanted to be, after I graduated high school. I loved organic chemistry and physics and excelled in math. I had all the makings to be an engineer, and at that point had no idea that I was going to be an architect."
But early childhood experiences proved a powerful pull. All his life, Moren had been helping his dad build houses and cabins; he knew how to lay brick, lay stone, do carpentry, plumbing, roofing, and electrical work. With that realization, architecture became the logical path for Moren to follow and he went on to graduate — second in his class — with a degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota.
Moren's work has since taken on iconic stature. With 38 prolific years experience, he has been the Architect of Record on over 500 projects. His conceptual philosophy is to, "Create an atmosphere in architecture, theming and entertainment that immediately transports the guest to an enjoyable and welcome adventure," he said.
One of his most notable design projects was the Desert Kingdom in Las Vegas, which comprised five casinos. Moren was commissioned to design one of the casinos and a "big chunk of the outside." This proved to be a turning point in Moren's career taking him down a new path of conceptual design. "The environment would literally transport the guests into another time and another place. They would forget what was outside of that building," said Moren. Ironically after two years of intense work, the complex was never built due to an over extended budget.
But this niche subsequently became his forte. Two years ago Moren conceptualized a $5.5 billion tourist attraction in Singapore, dubbed Harry's Island, and designed to be the world's largest resort property. This eco–friendly development featured ten hotels, a casino, villas, a 1500–seat theater, interactive attractions, restaurants, spas and retail space, centered around a Caldera — a thin concrete shell structure — supporting a virtual live forest on the outside of the structure and a 480–room hotel on the inside. "But we got second place," Moren said of the outcome of the competition. "And that doesn't count!"
Some of Moren's design work completed in the 1990s include Steve Wynn's, the Bellagio; Sheldon Adelson's, the Venetian; the Mirage, and Caesars Palace casinos in Las Vegas; and the Sydney Harbor Casino. Current work includes designs for the expansion to San Diego’s Viejas Casino, work in Costa Rica, and a new resort dubbed "the World" in Dubai.
But despite Moren's world renowned acclaim for his futuristic and innovative architecture, his heart lies in the delicate creation of his raku fired Joman style pottery that he returned to creating in 2001, he said. The lure of the beauty of the raku glaze and the delicate artistry of his ceramic sculptures sustain Moren’s inner creative fire. "I'd love to do this as a full time endeavor," Moren admitted.
To find out more about Moren's architectural work and his raku glazed ceramic pottery and sculptures visit his website.
Weaving Dreams Into Reality
Local conceptualist captures dreams to provide vision for major developers, architects, and potential investors all over the world
San Diego, CA (February 26, 2007) – A Native American tradition,
passed from generation to generation is the concept of “The Dream Catcher.”
This emulates the work of Richard Moren, (AIA) CEO of Black Cape, LLC. Moren’s company specializes in delivering powerful conceptual vision to its clients. Creating the matrix with his and their dreams – Moren captures an identity for the project.
“My part of it is simple,” states Moren. “By providing an atmosphere that stimulates the guest’s imagination and feelings, and taking them to a place they have never been, there is no end to the value we can create in a “must see” and “see again” property. My work is all about the guests and how they enjoy and envision their surroundings as well as how they portray their experiences to others. The result is a very successful project for my client.”
Moren’s innate ability to sketch and model his concepts quickly, revealing an overall master plan and mood, has sparked many a project to fruition. With cutting edge concepts, Moren knows what will work, what will not, and how it performs structurally, physically and emotionally.
Moren has provided design and direction for iconic projects including the Las Vegas’s Bellagio, Venetian, and Caesars’ Palace.
Moren spent the last two years working in London as Director of Design and Architecture for Eighth Wonder on a $5.5 billion dollar Integrated Resort for the Island of Sentosa, Singapore.
While responsible for the major portion of the conceptual design and master planning, Moren coordinated and worked with some of the world’s most prominent architects, engineers, and major companies throughout the world — Foster and Partners of London, Gensler in San Francisco and London, Ove Arup Engineering and Siemens – to name a few.
Black Cape, LLC
Media Contact: Lindsey Baker
International Design Competition Gets HOT
Local conceptualist helps create $5.5 billion tourist attraction in Singapore
San Diego, CA (December 4, 2006) – Director of Design and Architecture for Eighth Wonder, Richard Moren, AIA has set the path for an international design competition in Singapore. A world class team of architects, engineers and developers are planning to bring luxury, entertainment and design to Harry’s Island, Sentosa, proposed to be the largest resort property in the world.
Eighth Wonder, Genting–Universal and Kerzner (in association with Frank Gehry) are all in an intense race to design a resort sought after by Singapore’s Government in their April 2006 Request for Proposals for Sentosa Island Integrated Resort. The resort is intended to play a major role in Singapore’s tourism and entertainment industry.
Envisioned to be a large–scale, iconic development and a must–see tourist attraction for all generations all over the world, this eco–friendly development will be host to an abundance of recreational and entertainment facilities. The proposal features ten hotels, a casino, villas, a 1500–seat theater, interactive attractions, restaurants, spas and retail space.
The retail will be centered around a Caldera, a thin, concrete shell structure supporting a virtual live forest on the outside of the structure and a 480–room hotel on the inside. The Caldera, known as the ‘heart of the project’ was conceptualized and designed by Moren and plays an important part in the story of Harry’s Island.
No rookie to global design, Moren, has worked on projects all over the world including: London, China, South Africa, Australia and throughout the Pacific Rim. “This project is well beyond anything I have ever seen or created in my life, states Moren. I saw this as a once–in–a–lifetime opportunity to elevate my ideas and concepts to a new level. I believe this project will create a footprint for future destination resorts.”
Moren, who is Architect of Record on over 300 projects in his 38 years of experience, now specializes in conceptual design of entertainment, gaming and hospitality projects. He has since designed for renowned projects such as The Bellagio, The Venetian, The Mirage, and Caesars Palace casinos in Las Vegas.
The project winner for the competition is expected to be announced in December 2006.
Black Cape, LLC
Media Contact: Lindsey Baker