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Published February 28, 2022

Telling a Story

Featuring: Murphy Cauble, Mortarr in the Classroom’s 2021-22 Competition Winner


By Jen Levisen


University of Minnesota Interior and Graphic Design student Muphy Cauble has always been interested in design. What started as a love of building blocks and Legos when he was younger, morphed into a passion for interior design, graphic design, branding, and architectural visualizations as he got older.


“I enjoy commercial design because of its scale, creative freedom, and at the same time, its constraints,” he says. “I enjoy the enigmatic nature of these projects, requiring suitable coordination of many different pieces that the designer is put in charge of. However, at the same time, the client and applicable codes are involved, providing just enough framework and structure to the design to guide project decisions.”

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Cauble is the winner of the third annual Mortarr in the Classroom competition, powered by Durasein. A+D students from across the county were invited to submit current commercial class projects and enhance them using the Mortarr platform. Meet the judging panel for this year’s competition.

Cauble’s winning submission, Neo + North, was an adaptive reuse restaurant designed for a post-COVID world.


“We were given an empty warehouse in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood that used to make Ford cars, the Ford Center,” says Cauble. “In our scenario, there were a couple of other tenants, including a hotel, and the bathrooms were located outside of our restaurant space.”

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Earlier class projects had also involved North Loop locations which Cauble found inspiring. He took inspiration from the neighborhood’s resurgence and Minnesota’s love of all things north for the restaurant's name and branding. 


“‘Neo’ came from the resurgence of the North Loop and ‘North’ from the identity of Minnesota,” he says. “That is where the color scheme came from as well. The logo’s arrow, and its color red, were both inspired by the compass and its traditional colors.” 


Cauble’s project also features work from Minnesota artist Adam Turman. He said he was excited to include the restaurant's branding with his submission.


“It was really nice to practice how a brand is implemented,” he says. “Branding is such a big part of design — especially in restaurants and hospitality. If you don’t have an identity you don’t have a business.”

Cauble’s attention to detail throughout the project caught the eye of this year’s judges, particularly De Geeter and Alexander.

“Murphy's submission went beyond what was required for the competition and told the story from the outside of the building to the interior experience,” says De Geeter. “There was thought behind every decision.”

Alexander concurred. “[Cauble’s submission] was a very comprehensive project. [It] was well thought out from beginning to end including menu and logo,” she says.

What’s next for Cauble? He’s revamping his portfolio, an “ongoing process,” and is currently seeking internship opportunities. And while Cauble is leaning more toward commercial design right now, he says he hasn’t had a lot of exposure to residential design yet and wants to fully explore both before committing. 

“Ideally, I’ll find a balance between all of my interests,” he says when asked where he’d like to be in five years. “I really like the architectural visualizations, the renderings and modelings. They are what make people interested in knowing more — what catches their attention first.”

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Murphy Cauble

University of Minnesota
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Mortarr in the Classroom



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