Garza Marfa's
Jamey and Constance Garza

Friends & Family

Feb 11th, 2019

Lead Image by David Kitz
Portrait photography by Stephanie Mei Huang

I began admiring the furniture designs of Jamey Garza long before I ever made the pilgrimage west to Marfa, Texas. Almost 20 years ago he designed the built-in furniture at my very favorite Hotel San José located in his hometown of Austin, Texas. The lines are clean and minimalist, but the functional aesthetic is warm and approachable, comprised of solid Texas hardwoods and blackened metal. 10 years ago, Garza Marfa was born and I have been a fan ever since. I chatted with Constance Garza about their story in conjunction with the recent launch of their textile collection and the arrival of their coveted pillows and furniture at Bird.

Jen Mankins: I know that Jamey made the furniture for my favorite Hotel San José in Austin. How did that come about and is that how Garza Marfa got started? Marfa is such a magical mirage in the west Texas desert. How and when did you and Jamey decide to settle down there?
Constance Garza: Jamey is from Austin and first learned about Marfa through Donald Judd’s work, when he was an art student at the University of Texas in the early 80s. He made a pilgrimage out with friends back then. He went to grad school at the San Francisco Art Institute in ’88 and we met in SF around 1995. I had a clothing store there called Salon de Thé…and Jamey had a little fabricating shop (where he also painted). Jamey did a lot of boutique interiors and retail display fixtures, furniture, etc. in San Francisco back then. That’s how we met…he made display fixtures for my clothing store. A little earlier than that, Jamey had met Liz Lambert at a dinner party (at her brother's apartment) in SF. Liz had just purchased the old San José Motor Court in Austin. A little later on, Jamey made a couple of trips to Marfa with Liz and the others in her Hotel San José design team. Jamey made the room furniture for the Hotel San José.  

Jamey and I spent New Years Eve in Marfa in 1999, bought an adobe ruin, and moved to Marfa in 2003. The first project we did in Marfa was making furniture for the renovation of the Thunderbird Hotel. For about 5 years we did a lot of remodel and construction projects on adobe houses in Marfa and on ranches that surround Marfa. It was around 2009 that we pulled it all back in…and just concentrated on creating the Garza Marfa furniture line.

Images courtesy of Garza Marfa

What were the first products? You have such an amazing eye for color and pattern, have you always collected antique textiles, and when did you start making the pillows?
The first Garza Marfa products were our Saddle Leather Oval and Round Chairs which were inspired by the old Acapulco chairs. We redesigned the base structure, and then incorporated a Saddle Leather “bucket seat” (as opposed to the nylon cord of the Acapulco chairs). We followed this pretty quickly with our Saddle Leather Dining Chair and 18” Round Stool…that was the start of the Garza Marfa furniture catalog. I’ve always collected textiles…and around 2008 we started integrating some vintage textiles into interior projects we were making furniture for. It was around 2011 that we started working on our own textile pieces to add to the Garza Marfa line.

The colorful metal is such a playful and surprising contrast to the warm natural wood and vegetable tanned leather. Has that always been a signature part of the collection? Favorite color/wood/leather combo? Where and how do you source your wood and leather and what makes it special?
Upon moving to Marfa, we were inspired by the custom saddle and tack work at Big Bend Saddlery in Alpine (next town over from Marfa)…and that’s when we started playing with the suspended leather on our chair frames. From conversations with the folks at Big Bend Saddlery, we decided on what tanneries to work with, etc. There’s an intense natural light in Marfa (and throughout this area) that’s what inspired our color palette. Seeing a faded blue fence post in a field of dry yellow grass…things like that.

Where do most of the antique and vintage textiles come from?
Most of our antique/vintage textiles are sourced from Morocco, India, Peru and Bolivia.

Image courtesy of Hotel San José

I am obsessed with the new textile collection too! When did you start designing and producing the textiles and where are they made?
In the beginning, with the textiles, we were doing everything in house. We were finding it difficult to grow the textile line. Around 2014 we started to concentrate more on the design side of the textiles out of our Marfa studio, and started working with fair trade co-ops in India to produce small batch hand woven pieces for us.

Shot by David Kitz
Images courtesy of Hotel San José and Garza Marfa

Top tips for anyone coming to visit Marfa?
Make your lodging reservations before you arrive…you used to be able to just show up in town and check in…but you’re better off planning ahead these days.
・Check the hours for Chinati and Judd Foundation, stores and restaurants.  Sometimes Sunday through Tuesday can be a little restrictive in terms of what’s available.

Some of our favorite places…
・Art Foundations:  ChinatiJudd Foundation.
・Food / Drink:  The Food Shark (lunch), Stellina (dinner, wine bar), The Capri (dinner, cocktails), The Lost Horse (bar, live music), Do Your Thing (breakfast, coffee), Bad Hombres (breakfast tacos, lunch), Marfa Burrito (breakfast, lunch), Frama (coffee).   
・Retail/ Galleries: Cobra Rock BootsCommunitieRanch DressingManoWrong GalleryFredaArber & Son Prints2D Gallery, The Rock Shop, The WellMarfa Book Company.

Favorite Marfa sidetrips?
A trip down to the Big Bend National Park is always a great thing to do this time of year too.

Image courtesy of Judd Foundation

Garza Marfa pillows and furniture are available to purchase at Bird Williamsburg. Send us a note at shop@birdbrooklyn.com to purchase online.