How to make gravy, Ep. 7

Authentic, passionate, generous & larger-than-life; that’s how I remember Graham Downes. Recently I shared one of the many BreadTruck Films that we have produced over the years, celebrating legendary San Diego Architect Robert Mosher, and today I am stoked to share another celebrating the life & contributions of Graham, a massive influence on so many in our industry.

Graham was almost a mythical being in San Diego’s Architecture & Design community. His work sprinkled around town in many different forms including housing, hotels, retail, commercial and entertainment spaces. He saw value in and the opportunity to improve our City everywhere and he set to work with a team of young passionate designers to bring style & excitement to every project. But it was more than his contribution to our built environment that made Graham one of the greats, it was the friendships he built & the mentoring he gave to so many along the way. He saw value in people and invested his time, knowledge & passion into everyone he met.

I never had the chance to work with Graham (although I did work in his BLOKHAUS building for a year), but when I arrived in San Diego in 2005 his work instantly stood out to me and I went about introducing myself. We shared the common bond of being transplants into San Diego, doing so as expat’s, Graham from South Africa and myself from Australia, and he reminded me of that everytime we met. I remember last time we saw each other at a new office opening for DCI Engineers downtown – he saw my shoes and said “Pauly, I love those leather whites!” referring to my wingtip shoes, to which I replied “Basher, your suede red’s are next level sir” referring to his own. A nonsense little interaction, but one I remember fondly everytime I wear those shoes to this day because he had a knack for making you feel good just with his energy & enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

So this week, I am happy to share another ‘Legacy’ film by Jeff Durkin of Breadtruck Films. This one was really special for Jeff to make, as in his young career he worked with Graham and in fact, it was Graham that recognized & encouraged Jeff’s talents for film-making, and we are all so grateful for that. To wrap this post up I invited some of his closest friends & collaborators, other San Diego visionary’s Greg Strangman, Jonathan Segal, Jeff Durkin & Don Hollis to contribute to this reminder of how Graham pushed our City to be better – that was his influence & passion for life & our City.

“Graham Downes, aka Basher or GDA”, a one of a kind friend and mentor to me. A larger than life figure that was taken from us too soon.  Graham was a thinker and dreamer larger than his physical self.  Graham never contemplated “why?” He always thought “why not”. In the process leaving a lasting influence on me, all those that knew him and the San Diego community for generations to come. We had some great times. I miss my friend.

– Greg Strangman

Graham was a man who was always supportive of his friends, always had advice for his friends, and the last piece of advice he gave me was to keep focused because “Jonny, all we have is time. No matter what else you think we have, it’s time.”

– Jonathan Segal

When I told Graham that I was going into full-time film-making, he said “Jeff, you’re going to be very happy; at the end of a film people stand & clap, but when you finish building people just want to sue you”.

– Jeff Durkin

We both started our companies in 1994. I placed an advertisement for design services, a little esoteric, a little risky perhaps & my only call was from Graham. What followed that call was 19 years of fun & collaborations – a game changing and life changing opportunity to collaborate on such a diverse range of projects, always with a bold vision.

– Don Hollis

Check out these out-takes from one of the earliest collaborations between Jeff & Graham…

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