10 Questions With… Slade Architecture
by Laurel Petriello | Tuesday, November 22, 2011
James and Hayes Slade of Slade Architecture stopped by the Interior Design offices to weigh in on their picks for the 2011 Electrolux Icon Kitchen Design Competition. We caught up with them to talk art, apartment renovation and marriage & business.
What are some projects you’re working on right now?
H – Right now, the majority of our projects are hospitality oriented. We’re doing two first-class lounges for the JFK and Newark airports and we’re doing a hotel in Philadelphia.
J – We also have a carousel enclosure and a leopard enclosure at the Staten Island Zoo.
H – Those are out for bid, but we also have an interior renovation of a library in Brooklyn.
Who are some of your influences?
H – We really enjoy seeing art. We get very excited going to exhibits and galleries.
J – In particular, we tend to look at artists who share some of our interests and perception. We tend to look at people like Anish Kapor and Gerhard Richter.
H – We definitely enjoy seeing spaces and other peoples’ work, but sometimes that can feel like very solution based. There’s something really loosening about the experience of looking at something that’s purely artistic. The art may or may not be functional because there’s this openness to focus on concept.
Is there something you would love to design?
J – The ideal project would be something that surprises, something that we haven’t thought of. That would be the best project—something that we have not yet imagined or even thought would be a possibility.
Do you have any favorite projects to date?
J – Probably the projects that we’re on at the moment.
H – You kind of get obsessed with what you’re doing. You’re always hoping to push yourself. I think we really enjoy the challenge.
J – The projects that you’re working on have infinite potential, whereas the projects that are done are done.
I hear you recently renovated your new apartment. Tell me about some of the challenges with that.
H – Well, first was the real estate market! We’re two architects with four kids trying to stay convenient to our office.
J – The other challenge is trying to find the time for your own project when you have client projects. We’re always, of course, concerned about getting our clients things done on time and on budget, so our project was the last thing to happen.
How do you manage as business partners and marriage partners?
H – Our personalities are just suited to it. That’s part of the reason that I think we work together well. We have a lot of respect for each other, too. If you have to choose somebody you would want on your team, we are each other’s obvious choice. You can feel like you have the best partner.
What are some things you do to relax?
H – We spend time with out kids. It’s not necessarily relaxing, but it makes you focus on something else. Our kids have different real talents and it makes you focus on a whole different thing to go watch them play their sport or something.
J – We also have a house upstate that we rent. It’s kind of forced relaxation because we don’t have any internet connection, cable TV, phone—anything that we would use to tie back into work.
What are some of your favorite travel spots?
J – As cities, we really like Shanghai, London, Paris, Rome.
H – We tend to go to cities most often, but a few years ago, we went to Utah. We were blown away by that for all the opposite reasons that you would go to an urban center. It was incredible to be in the place that was like another planet.
What does design mean to you?
J – For us, as a practice, it’s usually a solution-based approach. We tend to address things as problem solvers, but we’re trying to solve problems inventively. At the root of it is this need or desire that has to be solved or accommodated.
H – But then taking that and trying to make something that delivers even more. So like if the client comes with a serious of needs and requirements, you try and work within those parameters while trying to make it better and more interesting. I think that’s many people would consider good design.
Do have some tips for emerging designers?
H – Do something that you naturally enjoy because you’ll do it better and you’ll work harder at it.
J – Hard work is a requirement for the job and really believing in what you’re doing makes it easy to put in extra time and attention to detail.