ginny branch stellinginterviewswhat's in your toolbox

what’s in your toolbox: domestic construction

by Ginny

I had the pleasure of knowing our two talented interviewees back when we attended SCAD! Domestic Construction is a multidisciplinary design studio focused on redefining the ordinary. Trish and Maureen are the faces behind the brand, and they truly live and breathe their craft. They continue to develop new applications and methods of working with simple and humble materials, such as building tipis out of strips of vintage fabric or creating floor mats that have been digitally dyed with handcut paper. They are set designers, product designers, stylists, fiber artists and visual merchandisers rolled into one. They really are the complete package. Read on for a deeper glimpse into the creative world of Domestic Construction.

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Trish and Maureen: Lots of paper, scissors, glue sticks, vintage wallpaper, things we find on the street in Greenpoint, hammers, drills, wood, rakes, shovels, sewing machines, plants . . . all the work we do is custom, so our toolbox is constantly changing based on the project!

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When we are in our studio, we feel _______.”


3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Trish and Maureen: We’re turning the empty lot next to our studio into a community garden/event space, so we’ve been obsessing over gardening and urban farming books.

The Urban Homestead by Erik Knutzen is really amazing. We also love Working Class Magazine (http://workingclassmag.com/), The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, Remember Paper magazine (http://remember-paper.com/), and this website: http://www.publiccollectors.org/CompletePublications.htm.

We also take a lot of inspiration from being outdoors in nature, gardening and traveling!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Trish and Maureen: We each keep a separate planner and sketchbook, but we sit down together at the beginning of the week and make a to-do list. We are best friends who also live together, so we are constantly planning and discussing what needs to be done. We love working and brainstorming . . . there isn’t really a separation between life and work.

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Trish: My hand could turn into a pair of scissors on command because I live to cut paper.

Maureen: I would be able to teleport places, so I could go surfing in Central America for a couple hours and make it back to work on time.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Trish and Maureen: The best advice we’ve ever gotten was “perception is reality.”

Our advice to a younger artist/designer would be that there is no right or wrong way to do anything. You just have to believe in what you’re doing without looking back.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Trish and Maureen: We usually step away from the studio and think separately . . . pulling weeds often helps and so does yoga.

Photo: Kristi Schiffman

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Trish and Maureen: We love Build It Green or any kind of junk/salvage yard. Any time we’re in Georgia or Ohio, we scavenge thrift stores like wild banshees. Greenpoint is full of amazing dollar stores where you can find anything from crazy neon tapes to funny ceramics. We also love the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art and Design.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be, and why?

Trish and Maureen: We’re super inspired by Sioux tipis. We think it’s amazing that they were all made by women and that the women owned the home. We wish we could go back in time to see the tools that they used. We have a goal in life to build our own homes by hand one day. Sometimes people don’t think we can or should build things because we’re girls. We like to get down and dirty.

Business cards designed by Cleanwash Letterpress

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Trish and Maureen:

“Pumped up Kicks” — Foster the People

“The Ballad of Speck and Pebble” — Delicate Steve

“A Million Years” — Alexander

“November Blue” — Avett Brothers

“Abducted” — Cults

“Killin the Vibe” — Ducktails

“At the Hop” — Devendra Banhart

“I Aint Got No Home” — Woody Guthrie

“California” — Luna

“Chained and Bound” — Otis Redding

“I Can See the Pines Are Dancing” — AA Bondy

“Euphoria” — Dead Man

“Million Dollar Bill” — Middle Brother

“Colette” — Langhorne Slim

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  • Congratulations to Trish and Maureen!!! Shout-out from fellow SCADie, it is absolutely amazing to see you two grow and get recognition. Still love your work and hope to continue to see you skyrocket into stardom!! All the best, always!!

  • I love reading about this. Some friends of mine and myself all work together in a theatre company and its super reassuring to read about friends who also are successful business associates.

  • I’m really jealous of how they seem to have immersed themselves in their craft completely – they live and breathe it!

    I think that this level of immersion is important for inspiration. And at the end of the day, if you love doing something then you should keep doing it!

    Good luck to them!

  • This is such an amazing and inspiring interview. Their advice to young designers is priceless. Thank you for sharing!