John Houshmand in his barn at Scotch Valley Ranch

John Houshmand in his barn at Scotch Valley Ranch

I have spent my entire life making things. When I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, toys from the US were scarce. If you wanted a boat or a toy gun, you made it. And although we westerners are additive in our assemblies, indigenous peoples are subtractive. A machete and a chunk of wood became that boat. Elemental and sincere.

And although I was trained and expressed myself over the years as a printmaker, photographer, ceramicist, composer, musician, and sculptor, I never considered myself an artist. Too “special.” I was a maker, a creator. I answered to a different muezzin. I remember sitting in a film class at Yale listening to Roberto Rosselini lambaste the precocious filmic would-be’s with his railing “I am not a film maker, I am a worker!” Although the scent of communism was in the air, I liked that.

And when Erwin Hauer, director of the sculpture school and always the mentor told me he would never condone my going to graduate school in sculpture (“You will go to New York, you will find a gallery, you will become a sculptor… how limiting…!”), I was obliged to listen to his directive. It was not “Go to Baghdad and make shoes,” but rather “You must always do that which you love.”

And after almost two decades of being a partner in one of New York’s finest construction companies, building design architecture in all styles, I began to dream of doing it all: designing, making, fabricating, experimenting, philosophizing with my creations, reaffirming our birthright to “do what you love.” And also to connect in an elemental way with the natural world, natural law, and to transmit an almost mystical affection for the stuff of life.

Now we make furniture. sculpture. architectural work…we design environments, installations, residential, spa, and even retail spaces. At one end of the spectrum it is functional, at the other end it is dreaming. Bringing the future into the present and insisting that it be beautiful, inspiring, and elemental.

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