Peter Hussey and Katrine Hildebrandt introduced themselves to me as avid readers a few months back and I’m so happy they did. They are the duo behind Structure Design and Build, a shop of goods designed and made by the two of them. I met them in person at their booth at Boston’s SoWa Market this summer and we quickly became friends. They simply ooze creativity and talent. Not only are they fantastic artists, they surf, they make delicious homemade pasta, have an amazingly decorated apartment/studio loft, and they have the coolest dog (which is in my mind, always a sign of a truly special individual). I’ve put together a Q&A with both Peter and Katrine to dive into the process of their work and what keeps them ticking. And if you’re in the Boston area, Peter and Katrine will be at Room 68 in Jamaica Plains with their goods tonight, Thursday September 1st, for the shop’s soft opening soiree.
Q. First off, how did you both meet?
A. We met in 2001 as undergrads at a small liberal arts college in the Catskills. We both were drawn there for the art department particularly for the glass blowing program and the environmental studies campus. We were best buds and glass blowing partners and started collaborating on pieces and installations right from the very beginning.
Q. When did you start Structure and what inspired you guys to set it up?
A. We started making furniture for a cabin we lived in while we were in school . We just used what was free and available to us…most of those things were weathered and worn, and that suited our taste. So the materials just made sense to us. I guess structure “officially” started when we moved from the bay area to Maine in 2008. It was born out of a need for things we lacked…furniture and home goods. Our friends were really supportive and encouraging having us make things for them in the beginning, and from there it has spread primarily by word of mouth.
Q. You guys make a little of everything from furniture, interior spaces, to homes goods. Can you elaborate on design process and how you guys use sustainable materials?
A. The interior design and carpentry side of our design process is really simple. We listen to our clients needs and offer them custom made interiors to meet those needs while maintaining our own aesthetic and highlighting there own at the same time. The materials used for our carpentry and furniture projects are often made from salvaged or locally milled lumber. We have chosen to use these materials for both their sustainability as well as their intrinsic nature to tell their story. We have always been keen on the philosophy of wabi sabi. A materials imperfections, are it’s beauty…a nail hole, bleached canvas, or weathered copper. We love things with a story. That aside we also stand by our products for their craftsmanship and quality.
Q. I just bought one of your abstract glass sculptures with steel rings. I am so in love with your other hand-blown glass orbs. Can you explain the process in making one of those pieces?
A. The blown glass and steel rings are from a series we did years ago. The steel rings were cut from piping we salvaged from a construction site. The barbed wire pieces were made from found barbed wire from a neighboring farmer’s trash heap behind his field that we collected in the Catskills where we once lived.
The glass we use is known as “glass cullet” which is recycled glass. Many times it comes from recycled restaurant glass, broken wine glasses and cups, etc. The glass arrives to the hot shop in big barrels that have to be cleaned and sifted through. Sometimes as your cleaning it you’ll find cigarettes butts and other debris in the mix. Once it has been rinsed it gets shoveled into a furnace and melts down to create clear glass. All of the glass vessels that we make are one of a kind, and hand blown by us.
Q. I know you guys have lived in several cities over the years, which was your favorite location for creating art and being inspired and why?
A. I think for us the best was when we lived in the Catskills. We lived off the grid, in a strawbale cabin Peter and his bud Gerrit built. We had lots of room to create and explore and always were finding different materials to reinvent things. The community there really supported that, and was encouraging for creative minds….
Though…we also loved living on the beach in Maine. It was sort of a club house and meeting spot for our friends, people always coming and going be it to warm up after a winter surf, or to collaborate with us in the studio. It was a drafty beach shack, but the lack of insulation was made up by the view… you could see the swell roll in from our window. When the waves were flat, we often found ourselves either on the beach going for walks scavenging for treasures, or in the studio making things.
Q. Did you both grow up doing art and crafting? How do you feel your art has developed or changed over the years?
A. Katrine’s parents are both artists. Peter’s parents always fixed things themselves. Our art has developed in a really amazing way over the past several years. As we age more together we become more and more comfortable with each other. At first everything was so experimental, we didn’t know how to work together. Now we feed off each other, at times in the studio we work in silence, not intentionally but we just don’t need to talk, everything has it’s place and it never needs to be stated.
Q. What’s next for Structure?
A. We want to keep making things for people…
Q. If someone was interested in purchasing some of your work, where should they go?
A. A few select pieces of furniture are available at Twelve Chairs in Boston’s Fort Point. http://www.twelvechairsboston.com , You can also come visit us at SOWA on September 11th and October 9th or come visit our studio on September 18th (www.hydeparkopenstudios.org). You can also find us here www.structuredesignandbuild.com & www.katrinehildebrandt.com.