When Ramone Patterson was a teenager, his mother took him and his twin brother to a barbershop on Frankstown Avenue in Homewood to get Afro-style haircuts. Patterson, in her 20s, headed to her neighborhood to see the music, food and artisan work at the annual Harambee Ujima Black Arts Festival.
Today, the 53-year-old’s work occupies a prominent place in the factory-turned-manufacturer space in Homewood.
Patterson, a metalworker who lives in Penn Hills and creates pieces for residential and commercial spaces, is building outdoor furniture at 7800 Susquehanna, a former Westinghouse Electric facility celebrating its 10th anniversary as a hub for manufacturers and artists. He is one of the two artists who designed it. , small manufacturers and nonprofits in the creative economy.
Patterson, who previously designed a metal wall hanging for the Susquehanna 7800’s ground floor Entrepreneurship Center, and custom product designer Reggie Ray were selected as finalists in a competition to create the item. Patterson designed bike racks and garbage cans. Raye designed the bench and planter.
The competition, called “ECO: Homewood,” included instructions for artists to incorporate the theme of the “Homewood Experience” branding initiative into their work as a way to connect the Susquehanna 7800 and Homewood neighborhoods.
ECO: The “ECO” in Homewood stands for Entrepreneurship & Creators Opportunity.
Benches and other items feature elements of the “Homewood is Home” logo in bold shades of green, red and black, the Homewood Experience brand colors.
Bridgeway Capital, which owns and operates 7800 Susquehanna, sponsored ECO: Homewood along with Neighborhood Allies, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Homewood’s Legacy Arts Project. The National Endowment for the Arts provided his $50,000 “Our Town” grant for the project. The Heinz Foundation donated nearly $50,000 to her.
In August 2022, Bridgeway put out a call for artists to design furniture. Katie Schaible, Bridgeway’s program director, said six of the 10 artists who applied were selected for the contest and were paid cash prizes based on their concepts. A committee that included representatives from the Homewood community reviewed the designs and selected Patterson and Ray to build the furniture.
Technique Architectural Products, a manufacturing shop in Wilkinsburg, provided the artist with a template for the product and then built the piece.
“I think the artists did a good job,” Schaible said.
All four items can be replicated or customized for other sites and can be ordered through Bridgeway’s Monmade initiative, which helps artists and makers sell and place locally sourced products.
Ray, 36, said the process for ECO: Homewood was “difficult.” That’s because the Homewood community needed to consider many factors, including how to incorporate her brand, how the work would be manufactured, and how she could invest her voice as a creator into this product. ? ”
He describes the design of the bench and planter, both green metal with black trim, as a “pattern of growth” that he hopes will be “organic” and “in harmony with nature.” explains.
“As a designer, I’m a picky eater and a perfectionist, thinking about every square centimeter,” Ray says. His studio, TOMO, was until recently based at 7800 Susquehanna.
A native of Connecticut, Ray moved to his home state and his wife completed a postdoctoral fellowship in computational neuroscience at Yale University.
“We both want to return to Pittsburgh eventually. It feels like home to us,” he says.
Ray calls 7800 Susquehanna a “magical place” to create and manufacture products, including collections for home decor, gardens and offices.
“Bridgeway and Monmade are great resources for the Pittsburgh arts community,” he says.
Ray, who grew up “building things and woodworking in my grandfather’s garage,” studied cognitive and computer science as an undergraduate at Bard College before enrolling in the architecture program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
While attending Harvard University in 2013, he became frustrated with building models by hand using cardboard and purchased a 3D printer to ease the process.
He was “delighted and appalled” by the results. His teachers were less enthusiastic about the innovation.
“The teacher was furious. I received a lot of backlash and failed the class because I was using technology that was new at the time,” Ray says.
He dropped out of Harvard University, earned a master’s degree in product development from Carnegie Mellon University, and became a product manager at IBM Watson, which develops artificial intelligence systems to analyze data for commercial applications.
He founded TOMO when IBM Watson’s Pittsburgh office closed.
“As a designer, I decided to hang shingles,” says Ray. “I’m always at the intersection of the humanities and technology.”
Patterson won art contests in middle school and high school and worked as a professional welder after graduating from Dean Polytechnic Institute (now Rosedale Polytechnic Institute).
“So everything I make has to be structurally sound,” he says.
He founded his design business, KMJ Metalworks, in 2011 and named it after his three children: Kalay, Mya, and Jordan.
His commercial installations include work in Duquesne University’s St. Martin Hall Apartments, Tennant Innovation Center in the Frick Building, 7800 Susquehanna, and wall hangings inside the Sarah B. Campbell Enterprise Center and a mural at the center’s entrance. I made it.
Patterson works from home and connected with MonMaid in 2015 after securing a $10,000 loan from Bridgeway to purchase supplies and outsource the design’s laser cutting and water jet cutting processes. .
Monmad’s efforts to sell his work are “huge from an entrepreneurial perspective,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to start my own business. My artwork is my muse, my solace, and my peace.”
At the dumpster and bike rack at 7800 Susquehanna, Patterson relied on the clean, orderly style he always strives for.
The bike rack is solid black with the Homewood Experience logo cut out. The black trash can has red and green panels and logos.