In 2011, I (Matt) decided to take some product design classes at the University of Oregon to get a fresh look at how modern products are made. I had been designing and building houses and additions and was frustrated with the building industry’s general avoidance of technology and automation. Houses in this country are primarily still built the way they were 100 years ago; stick by stick, cut on site, in a slow and sometimes dangerous, outdoor environment. It can be an inefficient and often inaccurate process, as computer-drawn designs are then rendered on paper and re-interpreted on a job site. PreFab housing had been a passion of mine for years, but I knew I wouldn't be able to jump in until I had a better understanding of the technologies available.
So back to school I went, to learn about manufacturing processes and the new materials, combined with the powerful design technologies already out there. I learned about metals and plastics, injection molding, lost wax cast molding, rapid prototyping, among many others.
Through those courses, I was inspired to purchase a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) router to begin the quest to automate my shop so I could produce more precise and efficient projects. The design freedom it afforded me sent me in a frenzy, designing and fabricating products I could have only dreamed about before. I was finally able to create a design and quickly generate that exact form, and then repeat it with precision at whatever quantities I desired. Within no time I had product ideas and prototypes strewn about my shop. And a new company was born; Ruphus was on the map with a small product line. And I will continue to add to the line with products that help make people's lives easier, and add a little beauty and joy.
I will also take this knowledge and bring it back to the Design/Build side of the company, Raphael Design. I am currently working on two, separate house designs which are planned to be factory-built, here in Portland, and then transported as modules to their sites. It's exciting to be able to take this new-found manufacturing experience from the microcosm of a product line to the application of a full-scale building.
In fact, Ruphus, the name, came about as I was designing a tiny folding house, 12 of which could fit in a cargo container and be shipped off to serve as temporary housing during a disaster relief effort. This is architecture as product; more furniture than custom house. And as a product, it needed a name. So Raphael House was shortened to RaphHaus and eventually to the more playful, Ruphus.