The residential garage, the little addendum to the typical (American) house, bears a significance that surpasses the simple purpose to shelter a car. In the 20th century, with the post-war advent of personal automobiles and the widespread installation of garages, the corporately nine-to-five working homeowner soon started to work on side projects, developed hobbies and created individual ambitions in this surprisingly variable space. Success stories like the late-night tinkering of young Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett in a private Palo Alto garage in 1937, which ultimately turned into the multinational company HP, add to the mysticism that encases the typology of the garage–a romantic vision of the self-made Western entrepreneur and domesticated “weekend warrior”.
Although not originally an American concept, the particularities of San Francisco’s Bay Area–aptly nicknamed Silicon Valley–transformed the idea into a quintessentially suburban one. Firms such as Apple, Google or Amazon continued building the myth of the garage and piled on to the notion of this unsuspected creative space, even if the legend not only entails tech companies: entertainment brands like Disney, toy manufacturers like Mattel and musicians like Nirvana embraced the private garage as a hub for making something new with little to no cost. Buried under this surface of famous examples lies a sea of common hobby rooms, nowadays captioned workshops, which serve as a retreat within the house, a repository for extracurricular passion that exceeds the capacities of the house. The garage functions as an incubator of ideas that holds the power to hatch the extraordinary (impulse) within the ordinary (space).
Garage Tales illustrates the story of 14 projects whose founders originated in residential garages and describes home-made stories of success, adaptation and aspiration. The case studies from coffee makers to yard sales were researched and documented through various kinds of drawings, collages and annotations to display a historical, geographical and cultural context between the independent examples on the West Coast of the USA and finally exhibited as part of the Butler Travel Fellowship at the Princeton SoA.
A stand-in for something larger and an anecdotal element in the Amazon history, the Bellevue garage is the birthplace of the retail conglomerate. Its spatial limitations led to its quick abandonment but the adaptability of the space allowed to house the first initial equipment.
Used as a workshop and storage room, the place quickly turned into several desks with lamps and soldering irons, for manufacturing the first batch of Apple I, being boxed after successful assembly.
Located in a former auto repair shop and gas station and with ample parking opportunities in the front, the restaurant was designed as a takeout venue, located in the old main space of the auto shop. To the side, a traditional garage with a folding metal gate has been reused for a dining area.
Walt Disney’s garage is a simple, freestanding timber frame construction with a double door on the front. Relatively small and nondescript, a sign indicates the earlier use as a film studio.
Although the space features a frontal garage roll-up door, it mostly remains closed and the main entrance is to the side of the lot, with church pews installed in former mechanic’s driveways for an outdoor seating area.
The large roll-up doors facing the street, formerly used for accepting clients’ automobiles, are part of the Crossfit routine, as in between more stationary exercises, the participants are often invited to run in a group for varying distances before coming back through the large door.
The garage consisted of three tables and chairs, a small fridge, an old washing machine and a ping-pong table, with the garage door opening during the day for ventilation. Connected to the main house with a shared wall and door, the office would occasionally extend to back rooms of the house.
The garage consists of a freestanding timber construction with a front door at the end of the property’s driveway. Originally housing one car, the space was easily converted into a workspace with a used drill press and several tools to design and build the first oscillators.
Even if not founded in a garage, this example of entrepreneurship merits its place among the others with a distinctive converted origin of creation through its sales method. Knight’s first sales of Blue Ribbon Sports (later rebranded as Nike) were made in his car, a 1964 lime-green Plymouth Valiant.
A central reason for Hollander to set up his artist workshop in the own garage is the ability to work from home, therefore conveniently using spare time to advance on his pieces and keeping it as a passion project.
The extra large space of the former garage allows exactly what the Rudy concept asks for, not only a barbershop for spontaneous haircuts, but a community hangout spot with couches, reading material, music (at times live) and a Pac Man machine next to traditional barber chairs.
Structurally, Thyrsus makes use of the timber framing with a storage level suspended from the rafters. A mesmerizing mess, the shop is filled with relics from various points in the history of printing: Metal typefaces, antique and toy printers, an etching press and obscure shop supplies.
With the garage door tilted up on Wednesdays, Thomas invites passers-by to try his coffee on site. The garage is equipped with two lever espresso machines, a couch and lounge chairs surrounding a coffee table, beans packed for retail and large bags of unroasted beans.
Garage sales are typically conducted from home, while the retail space often extends into the driveway or the yard. The communal aspect of the lawn is highlighted, as it forms the walkable threshold between home and world.