American Design Hot List 2021
Partners in work and in life (the name isn’t ironic), Justin Capuco and Brittney Hart had worked for a who’s who of interior design firms (Rafael de Cardenas, Peter Marino) before joining forces in 2015. They’ve been simmering for a while, creating incredible work for Roll & Hill at the company’s New York showroom and show-stopping Salone booths. This year, though, they bolted out of the gate, debuting two residences that showcase the depth of their ambition and their impeccable, ‘50s Italian–inspired aesthetic.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
It’s hard to wrap our heads around “America” at the moment. That being said, the spirit of operating from necessity — making the best of what you’ve got — is an optimistic ethos that we value and feel still permeates American Design. In lieu of tradition, American Design adopts from a patchwork of cultural influences. From this seems to come a freedom to remix and reinterpret, to experiment.
American Design is a wild ecosystem. Generally, if you look at French design, Italian Design, Japanese design, you can see certain codes that speak to the country of origin. There is a reasonably evident cultural throughline, often rooted in historical reference. In American Design, these traditional codes feel much less evident, sometimes replaced by more apparent generational shifts. We love this constant reinvention. There is something beautiful in the ignorance that exists when historical reference isn’t as present — there is so much excitement and freedom in discovery.
We are excited to see how a current emphasis on natural, crafted materials is incorporated into broader ideas about the future.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
From a life perspective, we hope to travel for the first time in forever. So much of our inspiration is derived from exploration and the pandemic has really impacted that.
Professionally, we feel super fortunate to be working with incredible clients on a number of projects with significant scale shifts. We’re just wrapping up a really great large-scale office space in the financial district of Manhattan. The client has been wonderful — very design interested, unafraid of challenging ideas surrounding office programming. And just across the street we are working on a boutique workplace concept in a historical building with a great local client. We are making progress on a large home in Ohio that is part historical home and part ground-up construction. This project has a large amount of nuance and detail that allows us to explore ideas about new and old, contemporary and vintage, mood and space making.
We are also really excited about a furniture and lighting line that will hopefully make an appearance this year.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
We find ourselves drawn to two different sources of inspiration: vintage sci-fi and antique shops. We aim to embody a future-thinking optimism. We love the libertine cultural ideals in many sci-fi references and hope for that in our own future. Beyond pure aesthetics, these social ideas inform the way we see space. Seeing Pierre Paulin furniture hiding in the background of sci-fi film sets is a bonus.
With the internet at the forefront of everything, our tangential love of antique shops is almost non-sci-fi. We love hunting for pieces that speak to the character of the spaces we design. This analog approach may be us holding on to a world that no longer exists, but by searching and finding we find ourselves succumbing to the unexpected and uncontrolled. We expand our ideas of space-making beyond initial intentions. Layering in these design elements adds an embodied history and, ironically, speaks to a future that will require re-use.
Also we could add American Gigolo as a source of inspo. Those sets keep giving.