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Marfa by Design: Fall weekend in west Texas arts mecca highlights desert living

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Collie House in Marfa
The refurbished Collie House on the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour, presented by Design Marfa. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Maiya's Apartment in Marfa
The dining room of one of the houses on the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Maiya's Apartment in Marfa
An interior of one of the homes on the Marfa Architecture + Design tour. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Matt and Cat's Residence in Marfa
The Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour features abodes of all kinds. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Matt and Cat's Residence in Marfa
Dining area in one of the houses on tour. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Sabrina Franzhiem's Residence in Marfa
Sabrina Franzhiem's residence, a featured property on the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Sabrina Franzhiem's Residence
Interior of Sabrina Franzhiem's residence. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Lalo's Shed in Marfa
Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour shows the diversity of the Marfa landscape. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Lalo's Shed in Marfa
Design Marfa founders want the home tour to represent the city's innovation in the architecture and design space. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Dreiss Residence in Marfa
The Dreiss residence on the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Dreiss Residence in Marfa
Interior of the Dreiss residence. Photo by Scogin Mayo
Collie House in Marfa
Maiya's Apartment in Marfa
Maiya's Apartment in Marfa
Matt and Cat's Residence in Marfa
Matt and Cat's Residence in Marfa
Sabrina Franzhiem's Residence in Marfa
Sabrina Franzhiem's Residence
Lalo's Shed in Marfa
Lalo's Shed in Marfa
Dreiss Residence in Marfa
Dreiss Residence in Marfa

Known for its wide-open landscapes, eclectic population and immunity to change, Marfa is both an unlikely tourist designation and a hotbed for art and design.

No one knows this more than Wrong Store and Gallery co-owner Buck Johnston and her lawyer friend Laura Hajovsky. The dynamic duo founded Design Marfa last year to advance economic development and sustainable growth while benefiting the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Their first successful initiative — the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour and Symposium — returns for its second iteration Nov. 1-3 with a closer look at seven of the town’s architecturally significant homes.

 “There’s a lot of innovation in Marfa, and we try to capture that with the houses we’re showing,” says Design Marfa co-founder Buck Johnston.

The multifaceted symposium gives attendees a chance to get up close and personal with the talented architects, designers, builders and landscapers who are influencing the Marfa aesthetic.

“We’re so remote we decided to the symposium was essential,” Johnston says. “In addition to the home tour, we wanted a conversation about the homes and desert living.

“There’s a lot of innovation in Marfa, and we try to capture that with the houses we’re showing. There’s a house that’s French Chinese Deco over-the-top amazing, houses that embody Marfa minimalism, and a four-room adobe with a Santa Fe feel. We’re trying to show the eclectic taste of Marfa residents.”

Symposium participants include Eames Demetrios — grandson of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames — who lends insight into his “Parallel Universe” art installations, and Gary Cunningham, from top Texan firm Cunningham Architects, who speaks about the issue of climate in cultural design.

The symposium also features a case study of the historic Collie House’s extensive refurb, with owners, architects, designer and contractor all on hand to share how they turned a teardown into a showplace.

The weekend’s lucky attendees are feted Friday, Nov. 1, with a party at the Capri featuring cuisine by Future Shark chef Krista Steinhaur Bork, as well as a cocktail soiree Saturday (Nov. 2) hosted by the Marfa Contemporary. With just 90 spots left, design and architecture fans are encouraged to snag their tickets. This may be the last tour on Design Marfa’s agenda, at least for the next few years.

“We can’t decide if we’ll do it again next year, we may do it in two or three years,” Johnston says. “Marfa is small, and finding six different homes is a lot of work.

“We have other ideas we want to explore: a Marfa train station design contest, a Marfa coffee table book — even a Marfa app. We love it, but it’s not all we want to do.”

For more information about the Marfa Architecture + Design Home Tour and Symposium, visit the Design Marfa website. Tickets are $250 if purchased in August, and $300 if purchased from Sept. 1 through Oct. 28. Individual tickets for only the Saturday or Sunday home tour are $35 each.

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