BLACK HOUSE PROJECT and Nigel Reyes - One Man BranD
by Harry Ross, Rawrdenim.com
Tell me a little about yourself and how/why you came about starting BLACK HOUSE PROJECT.
I started BLACK HOUSE PROJECT about a year ago. It came into being partly by chance--I lost my job--and partly out of a growing demand for my creative work-- I’ve been designing and making things for years and I realized that people wanted my stuff.
Although I studied fashion design in school and I have loads of experience in tailoring and pattern-making, when I left school, I didn’t go into the fashion industry. Instead I found myself working on a long-term research project at UCSF for almost a decade. It was a great project, and I worked with wonderful people, but I never really considered it my true calling. My creative work was always competing for my attention.
I taught myself to upholster and refinish old furniture. I also started doing custom drapery, pillows and bedding. My friends started requesting my work for their places and through referrals I started getting a steady stream of side jobs.
When the research project at UCSF ended in 2012, I realized that it was time to take a chance making a living solely with my creative work. I set up a workspace in my tiny San Francisco apartment and went to work. BLACK HOUSE PROJECT was born of my love for upholstery and well-made home and personal goods.
What does the BLACK HOUSE PROJECT stand for? What are your companies main philosophies and how did they come about? Were these attributes always important to you or have they grown with the company?
What does BLACK HOUSE PROJECT stand for? That’s a good question! Ha! To be honest, I wanted a brand name that would not lock me into any limiting category, for example, Black House Aprons or Black House Bags. Keeping my brand name broad allows me to be open to new ventures. I look forward to learning new things and branching out over time. That said, however much experimenting I do, I expect attention to detail, craft, and quality to be obvious in everything that I put out under my brand. BLACK HOUSE PROJECT is an open-ended project!
Do you have any inspirations or brands/artists/designers that you look up too?
I pull a lot of my inspiration from vintage workwear and vintage military surplus. I feel that ‘back in the day’ there was such a focus on the construction, fabric quality and functionality of garments. Each of these elements figures into my work. You might say I’m a ‘sucker’ for the small details.
I also look up to designers and brands like Daiki Suzuki from Engineered Garmets, Rising Sun Jeans, and Mister Freedom.
What would be BLACK HOUSE PROJECT's main points of difference? (manufacturing technique, skilled labor, vintage materials/styling)
I would have to say the main point of difference of BLACK HOUSE PROJECT is ‘I’m a one man show’! I design each piece from start to finish; I’m my own pattern maker, fabric cutter and sewer; I do everything in my small apartment in San Francisco. Each piece I make is in limited quantities, individually numbered, due to my fabric choices, which are usually vintage finds (for my aprons and raw denim bags). I also do all my own marketing, product photography and website design.
What is the current scale of operations at BLACK HOUSE PROJECT? Do you plan on expanding this in the future?
At the moment the current scale of operations at BLACK HOUSE PROJECT is limited by staffing: it’s just me! BLACK HOUSE PROJECT is still in its infancy stage, though I do have big plans for it! Top of the list is finding a great studio space in San Francisco and bringing on board a skilled seamstress/tailor. I am starting to outgrow of my small apartment! Ha!
Do you have any projects in the pipeline/near releases that you'd like to share with us?
At the moment I am working on expanding my current collection of duck canvas tote bags to raw selvedge denim (luck is on my side lately, I keep finding more vintage selvedge denim!) I also have a tool roll in the works, made in waxed canvas and raw denim. Stay tuned!