Imagine a design studio spawn with artisans and craftspeople, blurring the lines between design and architecture, compelled to craft the unforgettable,to push you past the point of craze until there’s nothing left to do but look, in awe, and take it all in.
interview by nicole camack
photographs of 5church and twenty-two
courtesy of reaching quiet
We know you started Reaching Quiet after graduating from UNCC’s architecture program, but what actually provoked the start? I’ve been a DIY type of person my whole life. As a child, I laminated my own skateboards and built tree houses. I’ve always been interested in how things worked and how things were made. My career path in high school was to become an artist. I made the assumption that architects made great money and used artistic principals to generate architecture. I was half right. I went to UNCC and associated with artists, actors, and other creative types. I was constantly frustrated by the lack of understanding from architects and interior designers on how things were made and material properties. Upon graduating, a sculptor friend and architecture buddy and I started Reaching Quiet Design to bridge this gap in the way architects did over 200 years ago where the designer designed and built their creations.
Tell us about the significance of the name “Reaching Quiet.” What does it mean? The name, Reaching Quiet, was actually taken from a band I listened to. My partners and I were searching for a name that personified our products from our furniture to our interiors. We have always strived to create things that are highly tactile, beg to be touched, and quietly and comfortably assimilate to a space.
You obviously have passion for what you do. Tell us about how that passion manifests itself into your work. I love what I do because, essentially, I’ve continued to play, tinker, and create things like I did as a child but in a more learned and calculated way.
How would you describe your aesthetic? Personally: contemporary woodsman. As Reaching Quiet, I enjoy mixing my clients’ aesthetics with my own.
Your background is in architecture, yet you have an amazing approach to creativity and design from beginning to end. Why is that? What intrigues you? I’m interested in the way things and spaces can affect people and create emotional responses. This, tied with my obsession with craft, materiality, and a general desire to make things has shaped the business into an unusual design/build firm. We started by getting a few kitchen design/build project right out of college. We built the cabinetry and concrete countertops—since no one was making them at the time—for those projects. The concrete elements we were designing and building started getting some good attention and this led it to being the main part of Reaching Quiet’s business.
This is so much more than just a blueprint. When you walk into your places you are blown away by the artistry behind it. Describe some of the beauty and pains of the creative process. Thank you! Every project is different. I try to collaborate with like-minded artists, understand the history of the space, the personality of the client, the idiosyncrasies of the functionality of the space, what I’ve learned from the success and failures of previous projects and filter that through my own obsessions to produce the final results. We’ve had moments in the past where things didn’t work out and that’s painful for everyone involved. Concrete is a temperamental material. As skilled as we are in concrete work, we only control about 80% of the final product. The other 20% is left to nature. As frustrating as that can be at times, it is also the beauty of it.
Sometimes concrete can get a bad perception—as cold and harsh. Why is it so important to you? Concrete fulfills my desire to make timeless, permanent things. The process of form making allows me to make any shape, so the possibilities are endless.
Where do you get inspiration? Inspiration comes from my life. I grew up in Delaware. I was a beach bum during the week, farmed as a part-time job, and spent my weekends in Philadelphia and DC. I think the contrasts in my lifestyle may influence my design work.
How would you describe your showroom? Studio? Our showroom is a modest place that shows off some of the things we create. Our workshop/studio is a dirty place where we make beautiful things.
Tell us about your team. My team is an amazing group of craftsmen who truly love what they do. I would not be doing what I do without them. Not only do we have to be skilled in our trade, but they have to be able to adapt to change and problem solve on their own. This is some of the most grueling work and it takes some special people to do what we do. It’s very evident that details and unique touches are important. Any special details in particular you’ll gravitate towards? I’m interested in high contrast, the mashing of polar opposites in order to make a space or thing unique. I also enjoy the subtle details that make a big impact.
Your work is all over Charlotte. That’s got to feel amazing! How important is the local factor? It has been wonderful to be a small part of this growing city and I’m thankful that so many clients have supported us. What we do is all about being local. While we do ship some things, most of the materials that we use are sourced locally.
Ever get carried away at home or do you only design for others? My home is always a work in progress. It’s the place where I experiment. It’s a small house with lots of cool details. If we ever move it’s going to be difficult, since I’m extremely emotionally attached due the amount of time I’ve spent working on it.
Where would you like to travel to for a day to take in the best architecture or design? I’d like to go back to London now that I’m older. I’m fascinated with the work of Sir Norman Foster and Nicholas Grimshaw. The high-tech architects have really poetic ways of dealing with traditional/historic building.
Where would you like to get lost? I’m always lost. I think I create in order to find something. I’m just not sure what I’m trying to find yet.
This interview was conducted early 2013.