Designer and composer Paul Chavez is a creative generalist who has merged art and technology for more than twenty years as both a professional in the audiovisual industry and as a music composer and sound designer for dance and theatre.
His professional audiovisual career began under the apprenticeship of Rolly Brook, renowned sound system designer and co-founder of Acoustics and Audiovisual design consulting firm McKay Conant Brook. As an audiovisual systems design consultant and member of many architectural engineering teams, Paul designed and developed specifications and drawings for projects such as the UC Santa Cruz School of Music, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and the Grossmont College Theater Arts building. He later joined design consultant Paoletti Consulting in San Francisco where he designed audiovisual systems for the Getty Center in Los Angeles. As a design/build system designer at Intellisys Group and MCSi he continued to design audiovisual systems for large projects such as the Where the Wild Things Are themed attraction at the Metreon in San Francisco, and the mega yachts Ronin and Rising Sun.
During this first phase of his design career Paul became dissatisfied with the quality of the user interfaces that were being delivered on AV systems. He wondered why users made so many mistakes and why AV systems were so difficult to use. Searching for the answer inspired Paul to learn more about the emerging user-centered design movement. During the 1990s and early 2000s the product development and software industries were asking the same questions and several people began writing more extensively about the topic. Some answers to his questions emerged from the seminal works by Donald Norman, Alan Cooper, Steve Krug and Jef Raskin. As a dance music composer, Paul also understood the role of creativity, divergent and convergent thinking in problem solving and how collaboration and multidisciplinary practice might be to key to solving the user interface problems he had encountered. As he learned more he began advocating for more attention to user interface design in the AV community through teaching courses on User Interface Design at Infocomm and writing a column on design and the future in the Systems Contractor News journal.
During this period of exploration Chavez shifted his attention to the product world by joining Harman Professional Group, the parent company to brands such as JBL, dbx, BSS, AKG and Crown Audio. Initially he was hired at Harman to support technology design for their large project team. As he learned more about product design, he discovered that most AV manufacturers also lacked expertise in UX and UI design. Over the years at Harman his position evolved into a role defining and developing new technology and in 2015 Chavez founded and led their professional UX and UI design team. During his tenure, Harman acquired several other companies, including AMX, one of the leading audiovisual control product manufacturers in the world. Harman’s eventual acquisition of digital development and design firm Symphony Teleca (now Huemen) enabled Paul to collaborate with designer Vaijayanth Iyengar and lead a team of UX and UI Design professionals from around the world. Based in Bangalore, Symphony Teleca’s design team enabled Paul to finally bring contemporary user-centered design practice to the professional audiovisual world. Their work at Harman included redefining the way musicians use portable PA systems with the Connected PA initiative as well as more recently reconsidering how users will configure, adjust and monitor large-scale installation systems with a yet-to-be-released cloud-based series of products that tie together the video and control world of AMX with the audio and lighting specialties of Harman and Martin Lighting. During this period Paul’s design team projects were nominated for a SXSW Interaction Award and a NAMM TEC award.
Chavez is active in the Los Angeles creative community as a composer, instrumentalist and sound designer, often leveraging his technical background to create immersive sound designs and scores. Paul’s music explores a variety of sonic terrains, using simple but eloquent solo guitar, angular and structurally complex works for percussion, found objects and computer electronics, and electronic soundscapes that draw on the spoken word, environmental sounds and recordings of vernacular music. Through this creative work Chavez utilizes tools and spaces that link to his work as a product, software and audiovisual environment designer. His music and sound designs reflect how his creative backgrounds in both design and music are interconnected .
He often works under the project name FeltLike. He studied composition at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara with composers John Carbon, Hagar Kadima and installation artist Ann Hamilton, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition. Paul has worked extensively in scoring the work of several choreographer/dancers including Oguri, Roxanne Steinberg, Melinda Ring, Morleigh Steinberg and Sarah Elgart. He has also collaborated with video artist Carole Kim and choreographers Shel Wagner Rasch and Stephan Koplowitz - former Dean of the School of Dance at Cal Arts and. He has collaborated on scores with bassist Mark Dresser, vocalist Carmina Escobar and guitarists Nels Cline of Wilco and The Edge from U2. He has performed at the Grec Festival in Barcelona, the Dublin Dance Festival in Ireland and the Guggenheim Museum and Live Arts Theater in New York. He has also designed sound installations for exhibits and theater at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum, Regen Projects, and the Box Gallery, REDCAT Theater and Grand Park in Los Angeles.