Earlier this month, the Houston-based interior designer Garrett Hunter and his longtime architect Michael Landrum joined forces to open Houston's buzziest new art and design boutique, Tienda X.
‘I have always known I wanted some type of gallery or shop, and Michael independently had similar notions,’ says Hunter, who met Landrum through friends and quickly realised that they shared complementary visions concerning design and architecture. ‘After having worked together on at least a dozen projects, we decided to translate our approach into a gallery setting and basically have a sandbox to experiment with.’
That sandbox is filled with a tightly curated selection of ‘somewhat esoteric and rarefied’ objects that make ‘unexpected pairings which create beautiful friction’ beside one another. Think Pierre Jeanneret next to antique orientalist pieces, Joe D'Urso grouped with Tony Duquette, Tobia and Afra Scarpa with a Michoacán candelabrum.
‘Much of our design work evolves from creating environments around carefully curated personal collections of art and objects,’ says Hunter, who also recently co-curated the acclaimed 'Texas Design Now' survey at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. It's fitting then that their location is mere steps away from the Menil Collection museum.
‘Since our approach is more curatorial, it is a natural homage and not unlike Dominique de Menil's penchant for showcasing decorative works within a relatively stark environment,’ Hunter says.
The space, a former upholstery shop-turned-antique store-turned-yoga studio, was a series of undistinguished rooms before Hunter and Landrum unified them with a material palette of raw plywood, red concrete and marble.
The duo are also in the process of developing an in-house collection of studio furniture, and currently producing a limited edition lighting suite made of steel and vintage crystal spheres, and resin chairs based on a 1960's French prototype with Ginko leaf motifs. They hope to blend these pieces into a Modern Texas concept that embraces anything from Donald Judd's minimalism to the baroque heritage of South Texas, merging these disparate concepts with other regions and locales across the globe.
As for the name? ‘The name is meant to be somewhat anonymous or generic," explains Hunter, noting the Brand X concept behind their tienda (or small, specialised shop) is really about ‘not conforming to an identity’.