Today we’re sitting down with Damian Velasquez of Half 13 to learn more about his vibrant and sculptural line of outdoor furniture.
How did you wind up designing furniture?
I started my path of design and fabrication at 11 – I used to hang out with my father while he made silver jewelry. The time we spent together at the bench was when I started learning about the joinery of metals. I continued to make jewelry throughout high school and college, but it wasn’t until I returned from backpacking through Europe in 1989 that memories of Italian furniture design would unknowingly shape my future forever.
I embarked on a journey of self education from that moment on – I taught myself to weld, to work with wood, acrylic, glass and concrete. I continue to build on that base of knowledge 23 years later.
What is your studio like? How do your surroundings influence your designs?
My studio is 7500 square feet of machinery and tools. All aspects of fabrication including CNC plasma cutting, woodworking and powder-coating is done in-house.
I haven’t ever been able to attribute a direct influence from my surroundings to my work. I started back in the day when “Southwestern Style” was at its peak. Modern furniture was not very strong in New Mexico back then. I think what does influence me is the fact that I do live in a unique part of the country and that fosters my desire to be unique in my endeavors as well as my designs.
Where did the name Half 13 come from?
Half 13 is the term for the size of the diamond and guage of the expanded metal that is used in the construction of my outdoor furniture line.
The Half 13 line came about from my love of the chair “How High the Moon” by Shiro Kuramata. Because I was not formally educated in furniture design I never really had any exposure to the history of designers before me to latch onto. I have always loved Shiro’s chair and never though of it as an influence until one day I decided to try my hand at using expanded metal as a medium for furniture. I soon appreciated the challenge posed by this material and the difficulty manipulating it. After much persistence, the current line was born, and adheres to my core values of function blended with aesthetics.
Did you see a hole in the outdoor furniture market? If so, how are you filling it?
I actually envisioned the Half 13 line as a way into sculpture, but soon realized after much feedback from clients that there was a lot lacking in the outdoor furniture market. I quickly addressed the issues posed such as comfort, durability and ease of maintenance; that is why these pieces are now fabricated from stainless steel.
Thank you so much to Damian for letting us get to know him better today.