In the Spotlight: Dave Ernst

In the Spotlight: Dave Ernst

This month, we introduce you to Dave Ernst – a twenty-one year veteran of Morgante Wilson known for his serious demeanor and unfailing attention to detail. Oh, and his understanding of the human brain. Read on to find out just what we mean.

Okay, we have to ask: how do you know so much about the human brain?

Well, I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in human neuropsychology, which is the science of brain function.  I started out with a science background; I’d gone into my undergraduate studies thinking about med school.

Clearly, you changed your mind at some point.  

That’s right. I actually have three degrees from Michigan: a bachelors in neuropsych, a bachelors in architecture, and a masters in architecture. I applied to med school and to architecture school, not being sure which route I’d go. Even though I had a science background, I had always loved creating things and had a mechanical inclination, so I chose architecture. It was one of those forks in the road. Hopefully, my brain is adaptable! I have a flexibility of thought I think benefits me as an architect.

What do you like about working at MWA?

I love the congenial atmosphere – we have all sorts of fun here. And it’s nice that Fred and Elissa give us a pretty long leash creatively, and encourage us to explore ideas that are interesting to us. And then there are our clients.

What makes a good client, in your opinion?

Good clients come into a project with a collaborative mindset and recognize this is a team effort.    Everyone at MWA is eager to see a client’s perspective – we’ve never been the kind of firm that says it’s my way or the highway. Clients who think their job is to direct traffic, or who only want to have us act as draftsmen, are the least fulfilling to work with.

Speaking of which, what would you say is your favorite MWA project?

Oh, you’re killing me. I’ve been here more than twenty years! I could never pick just one. I will say that the work I’m most proud of is the work that’s stretched me creatively, turned out beautifully, and changed a client’s life for the better.

What would your own dream house be like?

That’s an interesting question. I couple of years ago I would have said it would have to be near the ocean, with salty sea air and plenty of breezes. Cape Cod has been a constant in my life – we summered there when I was growing up, and my siblings and I have a couple of houses out there. But lately I’ve come to appreciate mountainous areas. There’s a geological interest to that sort of locale.

Who, or what, inspires your work?

I’ve been very influenced by a Japanese American furniture maker named George Nakashima. One of my early joys was woodworking and furniture making, and I learned from Nakashima the philosophy of using wood in a collaborative way, rather than forcing yourself on the wood. Today we talk about live edge wood, but he was probably the first to appreciate the live edge, and this was back in the 1950s and 60s. He really appreciated the honesty of the materials. He didn’t take a piece of wood, and then machine it and stain it to mask its quality. I like his integrity, and I take a lot of inspiration from that.

What else are you passionate about?

My daughter; she’s fourteen, and a lot of fun. Working with my hands. And I’m known to be a runner, though for me, it’s not necessarily the running – it’s more about being outdoors.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually pretty transparent - though the human neuropsychology thing always throws people off.

Let us know your thoughts

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Comments

  • Kathleen Schalk | May 27, 2017

    (Oops, I meant Principal!)

    Reply

  • Kathleen Schalk, Principle of Art Glass Chicago, I | May 27, 2017

    What a great article—well-spoken and well-written. It makes one want to meet Dave and get to know him, as well as see dozens of examples of his work!

    Reply

  • Paul Wolf | May 23, 2017

    Dave is awesome! I still tell people about how he would be down on his knees drawing instructions on our floors and walls to teach the contractors what we wanted. He has an incredible work ethic and passion for his field. We loved our time with MWA and Dave and we love our house.

    Reply

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