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The fact that Allen’s mother was an artist and his father an engineer made his choice of disciplines all the more poignant: Through design, he was able to channel both their interests. This miniature steam engine, though — part of a childhood collection — reflects his father’s influence in particular. “He was a civil engineer, and they did a lot of sewage treatment plants and highways, and I see such a beauty in that work,” he says. “I love engineering and I love the buildings of Pier Luigi Nervi, the mid-century Italian engineer who became a Modernist. I would never buy a steam engine now, but that appreciation definitely contributes to my makeup.”