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Gardens

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Designer Interview: Damian Velasquez of Half 13

Becky

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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.

Half13 O Table

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.

Are there any furniture precedents or designers who inspire your work?

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.

Shop all Half 13

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Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Modern Pots and Planters and the Plants that Love Them

Becky

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Do you dream of getting into gardening but fear you have a black thumb or no outdoor design skills? Start small and before you know it you’ll be borrowing your neighbor’s till to plow a big plot, bringing heaps of vegetables to work because you couldn’t possibly eat all of that zucchini.

The way to go is to start small; try a simple planter or pot with one plant. It’s a little late in the season to have fun with seeds, so you’ll need to hit the nursery and pick up some plants. I love the life live plants add to a patio, deck or porch. If you’re feeling nervous at your first nursery visit, get some help from an employee, that’s what they are there for. They are happy to share their favorites and help you figure out what will work for you. In the meantime, I have a few suggested pairings.

I’m playing with Photovisi for the first time and yes, right now I am terrible at it, in case you couldn’t tell, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

By the way, if you’re clever with Photovisi, please leave a link to your collages in the comments section, as I can use all the helpful inspiration I can get. I’d love to see how you use it!

So, when you’re planning out your planter, think about the container and the plants as architecture. Figure out if you want to add height, rhythm, mounded shapes, spiky shapes, color and/or contrast. Or, you may not care, and simply want to have a few fresh basil leaves and fresh tomatos handy to  mix in with your fresh mozzarella. Whatever it is, now’s the time to get your hands dirty and have some fun with gardening, even on the smallest of scales. In the meantime, I’m going to try to get better at these collages. Happy planting!

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Friday, March 30th, 2012

What We’re Clickin’ This Week: Getting Started in the Garden

Becky

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It’s going to be the perfect weekend to get started on your gardens so I thought I’d find some good posts to share with you around the web. Whether you were born with a green thumb or you’ve never even tried to keep a houseplant alive, gardening is easy – don’t be intimidated.

Why not begin simply, with some plants you can eat? Whether it’s a simple basil plant in a pot or a full-blown vegetable garden, an edible garden can always save you a few bucks. In one apartment I lived in we had no yard but we grew basil and lavender in our windowbox and would simply open the window and pick some when we needed some flavor.

Here are some places to visit that will help get you started.

1. It begins with a seed: Serenity in the Garden led me to this list of the 30 best-rated seed companies out there.

photo by moi, Becky Harris, at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

2. Start small; perhaps with just a small container garden. Learn more about how to plant a container garden over at HGTV.com. You can use edibles or non-edibles, or combine the two.

3. Feeling more industrious? Build a raised bed for your veggies. Learn how over at Sunset.com

photo by Norm Plate for Sunset

4. Find 15 easy-to-grow vegetables compliments of The Crisper Whisperer, which is the best blog columnist name I’ve heard in a very long time. The Crisper Whisperer also has some very detailed advice about growing a vegetable garden.

5. Check out some edible gardens that don’t look like you’d expect at all. Like mixed in with a bunch of flowering perennials in the front yard. I swear, it starts out with one herb in a pot and eventually turns into this:

photo by Becky Harris, in Provincetown, MA

I hope everyone has a great weekend full of gorgeous weather and getting dirt under your nails! Leave me a comment and share where you live what you’re doing in the garden right now. Right now I’m in Atlanta, where spring sprung way early this year, deep into cleaning pollen off my porch, a Sisyphean task.

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Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

It’s Lupine Season

Becky

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Well, I’ve been on the road again, but I thought I would share the brilliant, practically neon poppies of Maine as well as my personal favorite, the lupine that are in full bloom right now. Later today I’m going to go shoot some Lady Slippers, which are always a treat to spy in the deep, dark woods among the fairy houses.

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