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.