Pax Modern is a design and make lighting studio founded by Jeff and Teegan Nordhues. As high school sweethearts and endless dreamers, Pax Modern began long before it was even a possibility. Its foundation was built during long conversations over gas station gatorades and bad Chinese food. Its pieces were being put together with youthful ambition to build something big with their own hands. At high school graduation, they both left to attend college in Colorado – the Art Institute for Jeff, Colorado Christian for Teegan. An Industrial Design degree and English degree later, they got married and both were hired at a high-end, to-the-trade furniture and lighting design company in Kansas. There, Jeff designed furniture and lighting, and Teegan focused on marketing and public relations. After a few years, they felt a push to pursue the future a little harder and moved to Rhode Island where Jeff received his Masters in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Again, they decided to stay in industry and moved to North Carolina where Jeff worked designing to-the-trade furniture. In North Carolina, their high school dreams caught up to them. They remembered the Nebraska sunsets, the open community, the proximity of family, and, most importantly, the ambition to build something lasting. For the first time they chose to move because of a love of place instead of career advancement, with the dream that there is a possibility of doing something you love in a place you love. Jeff took a position teaching design to University of Nebraska at Kearney interior design students, and Teegan worked at the library. From there, they spent all of their in between moments, building, working, thinking. A few years (and a couple kids) later, Pax Modern came to life in slip cast, ceramic lighting.
Having moved back to central Nebraska from the East Coast, Pax Modern is more than designing and making. It’s a hope that creative people can thrive in rural communities, and that makers can build a life out of their talents, wherever they’re at. Pax believes that with ingenuity, drive, and passion, rural communities don’t have to fade into the city and could actually breed the next generation of innovative thinkers and makers. Pax hopes to contribute to this by jobs, of course, but also through maker courses and building bridges between rural locations and creative communities throughout the country. It’s ambitious, but it’s worth it.