Bryan Cantley

Bryan Cantley
Founder/Owner of Form:uLA and Professor of Design Theory at California State University, Fullerton


Master of Architecture, UCLA (1990)
Bachelor of Art in Architecture, UNC Charlotte (1987)

Hometown: Greensboro and Oxford, NC

In addition to teaching at CSUF in California's Orange County, Bryan Cantley is the founder of Form:uLA, an experimental design practice that explores the boundaries of architecture and representation and the role of drawing within the discourse of visionary space. Form:uLA’s work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has been exhibited internationally, including a solo exhibition at The Bartlett in 2008. A solo show, Dirty Geometries + Mechanical Imperfections, opened at SCI-Arc in the fall of 2014 and is on view in Storrs Gallery through April 11, 2015. In 2002, Bryan received a prestigious Graham Foundation grant.

Bryan grew up in a rural area of North Carolina, where kudzu overtook barns and telephone poles and farmers drove huge machines down country roads. The combination of the kudzu's uncontrolled organic growth and the mechanical "architecture" of farm equipment formed the conceptual basis for his work and the title of his monograph, Mechudzu. He came to UNC Charlotte from Oxford, NC and began his unending architectural investigations, "the painful journey/habit of questioning everything." 

"UNC Charlotte gave me the initial thirst for inquiry. It set me up with the basic rules that I needed to begin to experiment in grad school. It taught me the importance of professionalism… of demanding more of myself than others do/did… and of not settling. It was the beginning of looking at the importance of representation in architecture." 

Bryan challenges architecture students to "ask as many questions as possible, and find the voices in the school that allow, no demand, that you challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid of 'failing'- it’s where learning truly takes place." He tells this anecdote to illustrate:

"It was the end of first-year Final Reviews. No clue to what I was doing. There were several fifth-year professors on my review, and it seemed at the time a bit harsh for a first year final. My project was poorly designed (I didn’t know how) - the review was horrid. Throwing my hands up at the end in frustration and desperation, I asked professor Nelson Benzing. 'Is there ANYTHING you like about my project…?' He smiled and politely said 'no.' Devastation. Then that point of choice to rise above the devastation and challenge myself. It’s then I understood the statement 'The truth shall set you free.'"

With the recent success of Dirty Geometries + Mechanical Imperfections, Bryan is next planning exhibitions at University of Greenwich at Christopher Mount Gallery in Hollywood CA. He has also begun work on a second monograph.