(Hi there! Today I am debuting studio show and tell a new blog series of interviews and photos with local artists. Hope you enjoy!)
Mike and Jessica are the husband and wife team behind the cutest little online shop; my house party. One part architect and one part artist the two specialize in creating tiny wooden dwellings for exotic air plants. You can check out their etsy site here, their blog here and their full webshop (complete with an amazing selection of air plants) over here. The two were kind enough to let me come to their space, ask questions, take photos and eat yummy vegan cupcakes. Thanks, guys! Here's what I learned...
How/when did you get the initial idea for the first houses?
(Michael)Yes, I made them for Jessica’s
birthday this year. We were pretty low on funds at the time so I wanted
to try and make a big portion of her gift. I kept trying to think of
something that involved plants or terrariums, so I went to one of her
favorite stores, to get some ideas and supplies. I saw they had air
plants and bought a few, took them home and started thinking of a way
to use supplies I already had to make containers to display them in. I
already had the wood to make the Christmas ornament houses, so
basically I just co-opted that idea for the air plants.
(Michael) I have used axonometric (non perspective, parallel line and 3d) sketching for schematic design purposes for years in my architectural design work. It allows me to get multiple ideas on paper really quickly, usually based around some theme e.g. “tall” or some plant shape. After I lay down half a dozen or more sketches I pick my favorite idea and try to do a more refined sketch based on the dimensions of the plant. This sketch becomes a rough sketch model and I refine it until I get something that looks good. Basically that’s how I’m working out these designs, sketch and build till it’s just visually appealing. No design philosophy or strict set of rules or complicated spatial ideas, which is what I’m used to in my “real” architecture work. Well maybe a few rules, such as use just one big window per house or, it must have a door or, design till Jessica makes a proclamation of its cuteness. It’s a fairly intuitive process.
Do you two usually collaborate, or does it work better individually?
(Michael) I’m a diva at the drawing board, so I tend to design alone. I’m an idiot when it comes to selling stuff so I tend to leave Jessica alone. So I guess individually. I get fussy when people give input while I’m drawing or building and Jessica is so good at photographing stuff and presenting it so I just let her work her magic. She also handles all the plant research, selection and care.
(Jessica) Yep, definitely separate. But we celebrate sales and good opportunities together (like this one!). That’s the fun part anyway.
Are you working on any future projects?
(Michael)I would really like to make salt and pepper shakers and we are going to try and put together a design for an engagement ring box in the very near future.
I have been thinking about adding some house-related items to the site.
I love to make sewn and screened goods, so you might be seeing
something special from me in the next few months.
What are five things that inspire you?
1. Walking around the city, experiencing the weird and contradictory combinations of stuff and how they sometimes create super interesting spaces.
2. Barns. All architects love barns but mine counts extra because I grew up in the country.
3. Simple craftsmen built houses.
4. H.H. Richardson. A 19th century architect, one of my all time fave’s. This list could be long so I just picked one. Ok. You twisted my arm: Edwin Lutyens, Le Corbusier, MVRDV (even though I don’t really like them), Alexander “Greek” Thompson (no one knows him but he is super), and of course Frank Lloyd Wright.
5. Architecture models by firms that charge so much they can “waste” incredible amounts of time making them.
1. natural and ornamental patterns
2. tiny spaces and places
3. people that live their dreams
4. aquariums (the one’s you visit)
5. superior seamstress skills
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of "my house party"?
(Michael) two words: laser cutting.
(Jessica) In a perfect world I would love to make and sell our (and others) goods and gardening stuff at our own little shop (maybe with a little architecture design firm on the second floor?). But realistically, I just hope we can keep creating inspiring objects for people to have and hold. The process and response so far has been wonderfully encouraging.
Thanks again to Mike and Jessica of my house party and thank to you out there for reading.