PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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81 DESIGNER MARGARET NAEVE PARKER MAY SPEND YEARS PERFECTING A DESIGN PROJECT — TO EXQUISITE EFFECT. B Y R E B E C C A S H E R M A N . I N T E R I O R D E S I G N M A R G A R E T N A E V E PA R K E R . P H OTO G R A P H Y P Ä R B E N GT S S O N F O R I N D E P E N D E N T A R T I S T S A G E N C Y. A R T D I R E C T I O N M I C H E L L E AV I Ñ A . F LO W E R S B Y M AT T J O H N S. D esigner Garrett Hunter and architect Michael Landrum often collaborate on projects for cli- ents who totally get their rarified vision. "More often than not, we are fortunate to have nearly carte blanche from our clients," Hunter says. Still, there are practical concerns, as well as budgets, and the clients' own tastes and pref- erences must be carefully considered. "We try to get into their heads and extract an ideal. It's never been about doing what we want. That challenge of interpreting and synthesizing other people's wants and desires through our own filter makes what we do so compelling." Recently, though, the tables were turned. Through a series of serendipitous events, Landrum and Hunter became their own best clients. It all began when a friend and real estate broker hired them to build his personal home in River Oaks. The two-story structure, a reductive take on historic Spanish Colonial revival architecture, was well underway when Landrum and Hunter received a call from the client: A property by mid-century architect Preston Bolton had come on the market, and the chance to own a piece of Houston's modernist history was too tempting to turn down. The switch was on. The client would move into the Bolton-designed house, and he asked Landrum and Hunter to finish the house in River Oaks, which he planned to sell. In the bargain, he gave them free rein to interpret it as if it were their own. "From that point, the project became very personal," Landrum says. "We said, 'Let's finish this house in a way that would represent the perfect version of what it could be.'" With the owner's blessing, Landrum and Hunter put their super- lative stamp on every aspect, from the architecture to the plumbing, hardware, finishes, lighting, down to the furniture, carpets, and art. Many of the furnishings came from their enlightened store, Tienda X Gallery, an appointment-only repository of compelling bohemian masterpieces by such design masters as Faye Toogood, Joe D'Urso, and Tobia Scarpa. The two jokingly dubbed the house Villa X, "because like Tienda X, it's thought out to the utmost personal level," Hunter says. Working on the house allowed them to further explore and refine their own tastes, completely unfettered. "It was an incredibly liberating process," he adds. M ichael Landrum and Garrett Hunter are from dispa- rate backgrounds, and they've used those differences to create exciting contrasts in their collaborative work. Landrum's upbringing in the historic 1920s Olmos Park neighborhood of San Antonio nurtured an appreciation for historic regional architecture, such as Spanish Colonial revival. "It's a reference I consistently come back to in my work," he says. Hunter grew up with parents interested in modernism. "On family trips, instead of going to Disneyland, we took architectural tours of buildings, such as houses by John Lautner, Richard Neutra, and R.M. Schindler," he says. The Menil House in Houston, John and Dominique de Menil's personal home, with its mix of forward- thinking ideas and global references, has become a touchstone in Hunter's work. He and Landrum have traveled extensively, which brings a curatorial aspect to projects. "Michael and I have educated each other in the areas we are drawn to," he says. "Together, that fusion has created something special. This house is a great example of honing in on both modern and historic references." Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean revival houses abound in River Oaks, which was established in the 1920s. But rather than slavishly replicating from the past for this latest commission, Lan- drum subtly references old homes in the neighborhood and filters the design through a 21st-century lens. Ornamentation associated with such revival architecture has been stripped away, letting simple arched windows and doors hint at its origins. Instead of a red-tile roof and whitewashed exterior, Landrum nods to modern tastes and materials with a sand-color stucco facade, earthen-tone clay tiles, and brushed-aluminum framing on windows and doors. Still, it fits seamlessly with the neighborhood. "The idea was to thoughtfully embrace the dignified historic context of the neighborhood, while addressing the needs of how people live now," Landrum says. What's fascinating about how the two of them work together is how fluid their design boundaries are. Ask a question about architecture, and Hunter jumps in. Inquire about furnishings, and In the living room, 19th-century Kirman rug, 19th-century Syrian tabourets, Charles James Lips sofa, and pair of Pierre Jeanneret chairs.

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