FEATURES : DESIGN

House Rules

By Sarah Williams

Published May 9, 2011

House Industries founder Andy Cruz at his home office.

Photo: Rose Callahan

House Industries founder Andy Cruz at his home office.

Andy Cruz's house is furnished with vintage Herman Miller and Knoll

Photo: Rose Callahan

Andy Cruz's house is furnished with vintage Herman Miller and Knoll

Left: Ampersands can be found throughout the house Right: A hand carved carp found at a flea market in Japan

Photo: Rose Callahan

Left: Ampersands can be found throughout the house Right: A hand carved carp found at a flea market in Japan

More than fonts, the Neutra Boomerang Chair was one of House Industries's early products that was produced.

Photo: Rose Callahan

More than fonts, the Neutra Boomerang Chair was one of House Industries's early products that was produced.

A chair designed by Alexander Girard for Herman Miller.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A chair designed by Alexander Girard for Herman Miller.

A prototype of a divider sits behind an Eames Compact Sofa

Photo: Rose Callahan

A prototype of a divider sits behind an Eames Compact Sofa

The dining room: a testing ground for some House products.

Photo: Rose Callahan

The dining room: a testing ground for some House products.

A room used for Andy Cruz's home office.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A room used for Andy Cruz's home office.

A collection of Mid-Century Modern books ranging from type and design to homes and gardens.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A collection of Mid-Century Modern books ranging from type and design to homes and gardens.

An artistic obsession, Andy's tiki mug collection on display.

Photo: Rose Callahan

An artistic obsession, Andy's tiki mug collection on display.

Their wood burning stove that resmebles a tiki head.

Photo: Rose Callahan

Their wood burning stove that resmebles a tiki head.

A scaled model of the house.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A scaled model of the house.

The House

Photo: Rose Callahan

The House

The Studio

Photo: Rose Callahan

The Studio

A giant H hangs in the center of the studio in House Industries's trademark orange.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A giant H hangs in the center of the studio in House Industries's trademark orange.

The studio

Photo: Rose Callahan

The studio

Posters from a House Industries event in Austin, Texas.

Photo: Rose Callahan

Posters from a House Industries event in Austin, Texas.

Left: Andy Cruz going through different House 33 logo sketches. Right: Cruz points to a page from PLINC

Photo: Rose Callahan

Left: Andy Cruz going through different House 33 logo sketches. Right: Cruz points to a page from PLINC

A House 33 logo along with past House Industries promotional material.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A House 33 logo along with past House Industries promotional material.

House Industries printed material.

Photo: Rose Callahan

House Industries printed material.

Various items sitting on a desk including mockups, sketches, and various materials.

Photo: Rose Callahan

Various items sitting on a desk including mockups, sketches, and various materials.

"Freehand Pinstriping"

Photo: Rose Callahan

"Freehand Pinstriping"

A print based on John and Marilyn Neuhart's 1969 Christmas card.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A print based on John and Marilyn Neuhart's 1969 Christmas card.

A Herman Miller Japanese exclusive block set sits ontop the Eames Blocks.

Photo: Rose Callahan

A Herman Miller Japanese exclusive block set sits ontop the Eames Blocks.

House Heath tiles

Photo: Rose Callahan

House Heath tiles

Right: Eames Block boxes Left: Wooden Kois align the shelves

Photo: Rose Callahan

Right: Eames Block boxes Left: Wooden Kois align the shelves

Founding partner Rich Roat with Andy Cruz

Photo: Rose Callahan

Founding partner Rich Roat with Andy Cruz

Previous1 of 27Next

Digging deeper, House began a type collection with Ed Benguiat after featuring him in an article for House magazine. Benguiat is a legendary typographer and had been an influential force at Photo-Lettering Inc. (PLINC). During the project with Benguiat, they also formed a relationship with PLINC founder, Ed Rondthaler. Before passing away at 104 years old, he was looking for a new home for the 9000 piece archive, ensuring that the motherlode of type history would reach another generation.

Beginning in the 1930’s, PLINC had an impressive roster of type designers including Peter Max, Milton Glaser, and Bradbury Thompson, who built a boldly expressive portfolio. “They were ninjas of their time with the lens. They had the who’s who of lettering artists. Josef Albers, Pete Dom… Benguiat was the director that got all his friends to come in. What they did is define pop culture typographically. It ended up on album covers, on product and advertising. It was fueled through agencies and designers.”

House had a long standing respect for PLINC’s body of work, and began to see themselves carrying the torch for Benguiat and Rondthaler. “Benguiat told us the story of visiting Timothy Leary’s house. He wanted to draw type that mimicked the psychedelic era and take inspiration from Art Nouveau. Things like that trip us out to this day.” House purchased the entire archive, bringing it to Delaware. They began a labor of love, recreating photographic films of alphabets as digital type. Through their recent launch of photolettering.com, House is ensuring this incredible reservoir will reach the hands of today’s designers.

As Cruz and House saw their presence grow by partnering with design heroes, they also had a hunger to flex their own aesthetic and take a break from type team-ups. “We did run into spots where we felt like we were losing our identity, I’m not going to lie to you. Everyone knows us as these great collaborators and I started to feel like a Motown studio band. We had so much talent inside the House studio that needed to get out from behind the collaborations.” Since the beginning type had been just one facet of their DIY experimentation. “Oh shit, let’s make shirts because that’s easier than fonts. We’d do props for catalogs… let’s make a dollhouse because this font looks good when you type out ‘dollhouse’, and then let’s make wallpaper with the type. Let’s try our hand at making physical product.” Along the way House had spawned their own line of streetwear. After joining forces with London scenester and fashion buyer, Barnzley, they had a full line available in Japan and from the House 33 shop in the UK. They had also created a limited production of the Neutra Boomerang chair, built from the architect’s original plans.

These endeavors kept the DIY gene alive, and translated into House’s latest passion for producing objects. The Cruz household has become a canvas for experimentation, seeing how their objects interact with home life and interior design. “If you had told me 10 years ago we would be doing tea towels and folding screens I’d say ’that’s lame’. You can see how it evolves and grows, but the core belief is still there and lets us work on the things that get us excited.” They released a limited edition of wooden Koi with colorful typographic patterning from their own archives, that were inspired by the pond in Andy’s yard. Fatherhood has also inspired new products. “Making blocks for kids, who wouldn’t like doing that? I like how you can give a kid a set of blocks and they have no sense of nostalgia— but when you see them responding to it, that’s real. There’s no pretense to that at all… We’ve got the alphabets and letters and we should start creating more teaching tools rather than tools for advertising.”

Another recent team-up has brought their aesthetic to the home exterior, creating a series of “House Numbers” available in a range of styles and crafted by Heath Ceramics in California. For the launch, they transformed Heath’s Los Angeles store into a typographic wonderland, attracting design luminaries and celebrity fans. Creating interiors at that scale is next on the House agenda, with top secret projects in the works. “That’s where we’d like to push the design work. Hotrodding all those things, like figuring out how a cam works and the lobe of a cam shaft. We’re doing woodworking, screen printing, lettering, mechanics—it all merges. All those disciplines will make it real.”

The guys and gals of House Industries have proven their tenacity continuously since Andy Cruz and Rich Roat set up shop back in 1993. The foundation is still rock solid after 20 years, while building an incredible body of work brick by brick. They’ve stayed true to the lessons learned back in the days of cutting grass for skateboards—and kept their hands dirty, their minds curious, and their wits quick.

COMMENTS

mj
said at 5am
May 14, 2011

I really dig the unlimited creativity these guys put out. I used to be inspired by there work from their catalogs when I was in school. Then a couple of years later when I moved to SF, I went to see them speak at the Apple store (07 or 08) and they were talking about either buying or had just bought the Photo-Lettering archive. I still have my notes from that day, cause their "this is what we wanted to do, so we just did it" attitude, really inspired me.

Your Name

Email Address

Add Comment