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A Conversation with: Garza Marfa

  • We recently caught up with Marfa-based furniture designers Jamey Garza and Constance Holt-Garza, whose chairs and tables we carry in our Home Shop. They spoke with us about their work and also gave us a great guide to Marfa.

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    {Jamey and Constance at their showroom in Marfa, Texas}

    Where are you from?
    Jamey: Austin, TX
    Constance: San Francisco, CA

    What drew you to Marfa?
    We moved to Marfa in 2003 to design furniture for the renovation of the Thunderbird Hotel. I (Jamey) had been out to Marfa a few times before to see Judd’s work at the Chinati Foundation. Constance and I were living in LA prior to our move to Marfa. We had this idea that we would be in Marfa for a year or two, and then settle in Austin. But after a couple of years, we realized that Marfa was home.

    Who are some of your favorite local artists and craftspeople?
    There are a lot of talented people living in Marfa. Among our favorite artists are Leslie Wilkes, Meghan Gerety, Julie Speed, Valerie Arber, and Boyd Elder. We are also big fans of Marfa Brand soaps made by Ginger Griffice, Cobra Rock Boots made by Colt Miller and Logan Caldbeck, and Marfa Maid goat cheese by Melinda Beeman and Alan McLane.

    How did you get the idea for the Marfa Amigos show? Do you have plans for more? We’d love to see it in New York someday.
    Adam Silverman, the creative director for Heath Ceramics, was driving through Marfa in the fall of 2011. We have mutual friends in LA, so he called us up when he hit town. Constance and I had Adam over to our showroom, and when Adam got back to LA, he called to see if we would want to do a showcase of our furniture and textiles at the Heath LA store in the Spring of 2012. After a few conversations, we came up with the Marfa Amigos idea, and brought in some of our local friends. It would be great to organize another Amigos show.

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    There’s a Southwestern element to your aesthetic, but it’s translated through a minimal, modern design sensibility. How did these different influences come together for you?
    I guess the Southwestern part is a little bit in my Texas make up. I studied art (painting) at the University of Texas, Austin, and then got an MFA in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. I pretty much discovered my interest in furniture and architecture during my undergrad and graduate work. I grew up learning to weld and build . . . and then had this world of design open up to me. I’ve been at this for 20 years, so I guess the honest answer is that the different influences came together for me SLOWLY.

    Tell us a bit about designing the furniture for the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa and the Hotel San Jose in Austin.
    I had the great fortune of working with the same team on the Hotel San Jose and the Thunderbird. My long time friend Liz Lambert led both projects, along with San Francisco based designer RL Fletcher and San Antonio based architect Bob Harris of Lake/Flato. In retrospect, the design of the furniture on each of these projects was pretty seamless, because we were all so cued in to Liz’s vision.

    What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
    As I mentioned earlier, I grew up learning some basic welding and metal work skills, and I still really enjoy working with metal. As our collection shows, Constance and I gravitate towards designing pieces with steel frames, and then depending on the design, mix that with wood, saddle leather or canvas.

    Tell us a about your design process.
    I usually start by sketching out ideas on paper. Constance and I will talk through the sketches and I’ll try to refine the drawings a little more. Ultimately, I just have to go into the shop and work it out. Then, when we have a real object to interact with, we make more notes and drawings . . . and then build it again. We repeat this process until we both agree that it’s done.

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    Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re especially excited about?
    We’re currently working on a group of our furniture that will go into a hotel in Panama that is being designed by Commune Design (in LA). We’re also working up a new design of a canvas lounge chair and dining chair.

    Who would you like to collaborate with?
    I often find inspiration outside of the “genre” of furniture design. I think it would be great to work with guys outside of my field . . . guys whose work I really respect, like Lyle Lovett, or Richard Prince, or Johny Campbell . . . and see what kind of design ideas form. Amazing songwriting, kick-ass art and off-road motorcycle racing. If nothing else, I think it would make for real interesting conversations.

    How should we spend a weekend in Marfa?
    Typically, visitors would arrive at the El Paso airport. So, when you leave the airport, before you get on I-10 east, stop at Pho Tre Bien and pick up a Bahn Mi sandwich for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Marfa.

    Make a quick stop at Prada Marfa before you hit Valentine.

    When you roll into Marfa, if you’re still hungry, you can hit the Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour off of Highway 90 (San Antonio Street) and then drop into Padres, the Lost Horse Saloon or Planet Marfa for a night cap. Then get a good night’s rest under the stars at El Cosmico or Thunderbird or Paisano Hotels. If you drove in with your own Airstream, you’ll be hooking it up at the Tumble In RV Park.

    If it’s a first visit out here, you have to go to the Chinati Foundation. Guided tours start at 10 AM. If you planned ahead, you made reservations with the Judd Foundation for a tour through the Bank Building, the Cobb house, and the Safeway building (this might be a day two activity). While we’re on the subject of Foundations, the Pizza Foundation probably has the best pizza in Texas.

    If you’re here on a Saturday morning, start the day with a visit to the FarmStand. Definitely check out whatever the current exhibitions are at the Ballroom and 2D Gallery. Also check out Arber and Sons Editions. Grab a book on the history of the Big Bend and Texas border history, as well as art, architecture and poetry from the Marfa Book Co. Take home a sample of our incredible geology from the Marfa Rock Shop. Spend a little more time shopping at Freda, Mirth, Tienda M, Cobra Rock, and don’t forget to stop by GARZA furniture.

    More lunch time options include the Food Shark and its big sister, the Future Shark as well as Fat Lyles, Boyz to Men and Squeeze. Dinner at Maiya’s, Cochineal or Borunda’s. And a trip isn’t complete without a night drive east on Highway 90 to the Marfa Lights Viewing Center to see if you can catch the elusive Marfa Lights.

    If you have time to explore outside of Marfa, there is historic Fort Davis to the North, with the McDonald Observatory. A little further north is Balmorhea for a swim in the spring fed pool. To the east is Alpine, where you can sample some beer at Big Bend Brewery; a little further east gets you into Marathon, where you can get a drink at the White Buffalo Bar, and then view the fantastic photography of James Evans. Down south is a dedicated trip of it’s own, with Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Study Butte, Terlingua, Lajitas, Presidio and Ojinaga Chihuahua, Mexico.

    Many thanks to Jamey and Constance! You can find some of their work at our Home Shop at 158 Franklin Street in Tribeca.

    This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 12:01 pm and is filed under Home, In Stock. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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