Ray and Charles Eames. Florence and Hans Knoll. Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi. The worlds of design and architecture have cultivated some of history’s most legendary power couples. Working as a team, these duos have shaped cities, molded interiors, defined the aesthetic of their respective era. In consuming and ambitious pursuits such as these, intimate collaboration seems wise—imperative even.
New York City-based architectural designers Brittney Hart and Justin Capuco, of the aptly named studio Husband Wife, follow in the footsteps of these aforementioned legends. Hart and Capuco are, in every sense of the word, partners: in life, in parenthood, and in business. As owners of Husband Wife, the two, well, marry their ideas, creating a unique design language from their combined dreams, expertise, and vision.
Hart and Capuco are skilled manipulators of space. Curves and arches appear from nowhere. Squares of plants spill from wall cubbies, like light from a windowpane. Color is used in trickle-form or deluge, the choice always the right one. When spareness is employed, it reads not as emptiness, but as thoughtfulness. In their work is a sense of mystery, sex, and substance, and no matter the scale of the project, the end result manages to feel monumental.
Below, Hart and Capuco talk flame stitching, set obsession, and effortlessly incorporating mood into a room.
Your first experience with design as a child:
JC: My first and strongest memory is of making a house for a squirrel in elementary school, which I crafted out of cut-up pictures from my mom’s Better Homes & Gardens magazines. I think it’s possibly one of my favorite projects of all time.
BH: I watched a lot of sci-fi growing up in the ’80s—especially Buck Rogers—and was obsessed with the sets. I was always much more interested in those designs than in the story.
What did your parents do for work? Were they interested in design?
JC: My mom worked at a non-profit and my dad was a research scientist.
BH: My dad was an orthodontist and my mom was an English teacher. While neither Justin’s nor my parents were directly involved in the art or design world, there was a broad interest. We both grew up in the suburbs outside of DC and would often go in to visit the Hirschhorn, National Gallery of Art, etc.
Describe your childhood living room in detail:
BH: My home was a very mixed bag design-wise, but the living room itself was very traditional. It had an oriental rug, a rolled-arm pale pink velvet sofa, Louis XIV chairs with flame-stitched upholstery, along with other 18th and 19th century wooden antiques. Nobody ever went in except for on Christmas Eve.
JC: My parents were much more DIYers. I remember my dad installed wooden shutters in our living room and we had a yellow corduroy sofa that was re-upholstered many times over.
Where was your first apartment NYC and what did it look like?
JC: It was a brand new building in Hell’s Kitchen. At the time, no one was really living in that neighborhood, especially in new buildings. It had a large outdoor space and right off of it was my closet-sized bedroom.
BH: I visited that apartment before I knew Justin. It was incredible, especially having that much space in New York City. I, on the other hand, was in a fifth-floor walk-up in SoHo. It was 700 square feet and I got to decorate the whole thing because my roommate was Australian and had no furniture. Everything was white and futurist. I had these two Wendell Castle Molar Chairs I brought from L.A. which are still one of my favorite pieces in our house.
Favorite type of client:
Clients that are ambitious and involved but simultaneously trusting.
What’s a day typically look like for you, from start to finish?
Since we are partners in life and business, and we have three-year-old twins, we try to structure our day so that when we are with our kids we aren’t too focused on work. This means waking up early, maybe 6 a.m., to get a little work done before the kids are up. We then all have breakfast together before heading off to work around 8 a.m.
We usually spend the day at our studio/office in Greenpoint unless we have meetings or installs. We make sure to head home right around 6 p.m. every day. Once back at home, we usually pour a glass of something for ourselves to unwind, and hang out with our kids starting at 7. They’re in bed by 8:30 (hopefully), and we are lights out by 11. Weekends we try to really devote to our kids because our weeks are so compressed with work.
What color are you most interested in presently and why?
We’ve been using a lot of high-gloss tan and dusty off-white. It is a way to add brightness that doesn’t weigh down or dominate a space while adding in some richness and mood.
Any particular material you fancy at the moment?
Birdseye maple or burled wood.
Indoor plant you like most for its beauty:
Indoor plant you like most for its indestructibility:
Honestly, high-quality fake plants.
Tips to keeping indoor plants alive, if any:
See above. Plant maintenance isn’t a strong suit.
If you were a shape, you’d be ___________:
Trend you’re currently tiring of:
Though we love his work, the Pierre Jeanneret chair could be the most overused and knocked off chair of the moment.There are so many other incredible designers to choose from out there…
Trend you’re hoping takes off:
Continued focus on architectural interiors with built-ins that make spaces feel connected and cozy.
Three things to always consider when designing a room:
Honest intended use. Sense of scale. Interplay between objects and space.
The definition of good taste, according to you:
The ability to successfully reinterpret tradition.
What do you want people to feel when they walk into a space designed by Husband Wife?
We love to foster a sense of energy and intrigue through the interplay of texture, materials, and architecture.