Designer Crush Q&A: Hulett Jones of jones | haydu

With such an impressive portfolio and tons more on the way, we could not be more happy to bring you Hulett's thought-provoking, poignant, and very poetic (#4!) answers to our Designer Crush Q&A! 

1. Where do you currently live in CA and what's special about how you've designed your personal space?

I live the quintessential example of "the cobbler's children wear no shoes." I recently moved from a rental in the Mission (San Francisco) to a rental in Piedmont. I tend to experiment in these spaces every way I can, primarily with furniture arrangement, color, and organization.

2. What's your dream design project? Who would it be for (dead or alive)?

Dead: I would love to design anything for Marcel Duchamp. His conceptual work was very spatial, exploratory, sensory, humorous. I would have loved the chance to find that expression in architecture.

Living: The architect Samuel Mockbee started an amazing program at Auburn University that he called "Rural Studio". In short, the program designed and built a myriad of housing and community buildings while teaching architecture students about the social responsibilities of the profession. I would love to do the same thing, but on an urban scale. It would take an enormous amount of funding. In San Francisco, it would take Herculean efforts with the Planning process. Perhaps a dream. Perhaps not.

3. In real life, what's your favorite design project you've completed to date?

The next one. Cliche, maybe, but it is true. I call architecture the longest art form. By the time something is completed, we are on to the next. Recently, though, I am most fond of the Coffee Bar we designed at 101 Montgomery. [Pics in the slideshow above!]

4. You've been gifted a fabulously furnished dream home but can only bring one item from your current space. What would it be?

I have a finger pick that Townes Van Zandt gave me after a show one night at the Cactus Cafe, in Austin, TX. Townes is known for his amazing songwriting talents, but he is overlooked for his guitar playing ability, both finger picking and flat picking. The night he gave it to me, he was remarkably sober, and he'd put on a transcendent show. He was holding court afterwards with a few of us, talking about how hard it was for him to learn how to pick, how much practice it took. We were playing cards. Townes is one of those geniuses that you just assume it is a natural gift, that he doesn't have to work at it. He took my last dollar at cards that night. In return, he offered me his pick. It's a gift that reminds me that effort is what it takes to create.

5. What's your creative process when designing a space?

My business partner (Paul Haydu) and I have been honing our process for years. Our process feeds off of values, definitions, and constraints with the goal for each project to be its own entity, to have its own spirit, melding functional requirements with the more emotive and sensory goals. We do our best not to bring a pre-established aesthetic to a design. We spend a lot of time discussing the project with the client(s) and amongst ourselves. We do a lot of questioning... data gathering, if you will. From there, we often design in opposites. The goal is to vet all possibilities until the best idea emerges.

6. Where do you score prized interior design items? Any shopping tips?

I treat this just as I do music, which is one of my passions. I talk a lot with shopkeepers, artists, craftsmen/women, and other designers. I like to hear about what store owners would *like* to have next. I am a big fan of handmade items. If I find something I like somewhere, I look into the designer and manufacturer, and see what else they are working on. The last store I visited that floored me was Tortoise.

7. Ever had an epic DIY disaster? What project would you never take on again yourself?

I once tried to reupholster a Danish sofa. I spent as much money as I could stomach on the fabric. In my head, it was going to be beautiful. I spent months on it, and when finished, it indeed looked great... it was wildly uncomfortable however, and it fell apart within 6 months. To be honest, I'd probably try it again, though. Maybe have a sofa that lasts for 10 months next time.

8. What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project?

We work a lot with natural materials and subtlety. I've been excited about working with sheet metal and contrast.

9. Lightning round!

Beach or mountains?


Twitter or Facebook?


Architectural Digest or Wallpaper?


Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen?


Would you rather shop new or vintage?


Great view or perfect pool?


SF or LA?


10. What's one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world?

Everyone is a potential client.


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