Tiny House Founder Jay Shafer Speaks at Peristyle

Posted Feb 27th, 2012 by Teri Sharp  Category: Community Interest, Toledo.com


TOLEDO, OHIO–Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and a recognized leader in the small living movement, is the next featured speaker in the Masters Series at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Steven Litt, art and architecture writer for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, will lead a wide-ranging discussion with Shafer about the tiny house movement, art, architecture and urban design at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8 in the Peristyle. Sponsored by the Museum’s Ambassadors, the program is free and open to the public.

A house constructed from Schafer’s design for the “XS” Tumbleweed Tiny House model is currently part of the Small Worlds exhibition at the Museum. Built with support from The Andersons and the Lathrop Company, the house will be auctioned online. Bidding opens on March 8 at www.tinyhouse.toledomuseum.org . Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Museum’s community outreach programs.

Amy Gilman, associate director of the Museum and curator of Small Worlds, said she wanted the house in the exhibition to show the different possibilities of “smallness” and to bring the concept of smallness out of the galleries. “We’ve invited Jay Shafer here to talk about the idea of sustainability and living small to create a dialogue between the art world and the world outside it,” Gilman explained. “The Museum is committed in a number of ways to shrinking its footprint and to generating more discussion in our community about the involvement of designers in efforts such as reducing energy consumption.”

Shafer, a designer who specializes in sustainable architecture and urban planning, conceived of “little buildings” in 1997 for economical reasons, both practical and personal. In a 2008 interview with CNN, Shafer said he saw many people who seemed to be slaves to their homes. “I didn’t want to pay rent or a mortgage forever. So my plan was to escape the rat race,” the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House told the news agency.

Living in a small house works for him personally, and he likes teaching others how to downsize and eliminate worry over having a big mortgage, taking on more debt for maintenance and paying higher taxes for a larger home. A Tumbleweed Tiny House typically cost less than $20,000 to build. And, while the value of large homes has plummeted in recent years, the value of small homes appreciated about $37 per square foot, some reports say.

Smaller homes also make a smaller environmental impact. According to Shafer’s website, the average American house consumes three-quarters of an acre of forest and produces seven tons of waste, along with 18 tons of greenhouse gases annually after construction.

Schafer widely lectures on these subjects in venues such as the Eco-Dwelling program at New College, the Boston Architectural Center and the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History, where he was an adjunct assistant professor for more than a decade.

His designs and essays have appeared in a number of periodicals, books and television shows, including “Fine Homebuilding,” The Wall Street Journal and “This Old House.” His awards include selection, with Dee Williams, for the American Institute of Architect’s 2005 Sustainable Design Symposium and Natural Home’s Home of the Year Award for Innovative Design in 2000.
Concern about the impact of ever-larger houses also has brought its own reward for the California resident, who has declared, “The simple, slower lifestyle my homes have afforded is a luxury for which I am continually grateful.”
For more information, visit www.toledomuseum.org.

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Teri Sharp - Toledo Museum of Art | Toledo, OH

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