NEW POWER GENERATION: BRITTANY HART AND JUSTIN CAPUCO OF HUSBAND WIFE
Given the challenging nature of the profession, it is often said that architects should only practice their art for the love of it — which might explain why so many architect couples decide to work together. The 20th century alone is full of celebrated husband-and-wife partnerships, from the Eameses to the Smithsons to the Venturi Scott Browns. When, in 2013, married partners Brittany Hart and Justin Capuco were looking for a name for their budding Brooklyn-based architecture firm, they decided on the obvious: Husband Wife. “When you start out, you always try to assign an identity to your practice,” explains Capuco. “For us it just made sense to highlight this existing dialogue between us as a couple.”
Capuco, who was a research scientist in biology before switching to architecture, met Hart a few years earlier while she was working for Greg Lynn in Los Angeles and he was working for New York-based firm Architecture At Large. “We met and really fell for each other — we almost immediately started dreaming and combining our ideas,” gushes Capuco. The couple’s major breakthrough came in 2015, when they were commissioned to design a stand for luxury-lighting company Roll & Hill at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. “It was probably one of the first projects that we did that really began to showcase our own design language,” explains Hart. “We were fortunate to have a client who was willing to take some chances.” Many ideas explored at the stand were pursued in Husband Wife’s design for Roll & Hill’s three-story Mercer Street showroom in New York, which opened in May 2016. “We like that the architecture recedes at times but still defines the space and subversively highlights their product” (which includes pieces by the likes of Lindsey Adelman and Philippe Malouin). Another recent project is the Football Cafe, a local for soccer enthusiasts in Lower Manhattan which opened last fall. And in addition to a complete house renovation in Atlantic Beach, Husband Wife are currently working on a number of residential projects in Manhattan, including one with acclaimed artist and textile designer Madeline Weinrib. “There is so much unclaimed territory in interiors-based architectural design,” says Capuco. “Even the slightest design gestures can greatly impact people’s experience.”
So do the two let themselves be inspired by the work of other husband-and-wife partnerships? “Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio are always a great inspiration in terms of the boundaries that they have placed on their work and how they have developed their firm. And we really appreciate the work of Alison and Peter Smithson, and Team X in general.” They also cite French architect Robert Mallet Stevens as an inspiration: “He believed that unornamented, strategically-designed spaces could influence the psychological,” say the architects.
These theories are currently being thrown into sharp focus with the couple’s most challenging project to date: their own home in Brooklyn, which they’re getting ready for their new-born twins. “It’s much easier working for someone else than having your wife or husband as your client,” Hart exclaims in faux exasperation. “We’re still working through it.”
By Paul Keskeys. Photography by Rachel Chandler. Photographed at USM New York shoowroom.
The New Power Generation Portfolio Special is a collaboration between PIN–UP and Architizer, the leading online resource for architecture, which is empowering the profession through its vast building database, daily content, Source marketplace and the global awards program for today’s best architects, the A+Awards.
Taken from PIN–UP No. 21, Fall Winter 2016/17.