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Location: Denton, TX

Meet the Artisans: Julian & Kate Pastrana

Julian and Kate of Pastrana Studios are true artisans. They create timeless, hand-made pieces with the goal of designing things that compliment our homes and the way we live. So much thought and energy go into each and every item that is made. From locally sourcing the materials, to the fine craftsmanship behind each piece, their careful process allows them to create heirlooms for you and your family that can be passed down for generations. Read on to learn about Julian and Kate and discover why their work is so timeless.

How did you get your start?
Kate and I have always been people who are driven to create, it was one of the things we bonded over when we first met. When we got married, we started making small pieces of furniture for our own house out of necessity. Once we realized how well we worked together and how we enjoyed designing and creating functional furniture for our home, we decided that we wanted to start our brand, Pastrana Studio. The main goal since the beginning has been to extend the opportunity for others to experience the aesthetic of our lifestyle through our products. Our company is just an extension of how we live day to day. We also wanted to create an atmosphere, through the function of each our pieces, that was conducive to communal gatherings.

Describe your process when creating new pieces.
The way a piece usually starts out is by Kate and I seeing a need for our own house and deciding, "hey we should build ourselves a better coffee table," or something along those lines. Then from there we start brainstorming and drawing up designs. This stage is where Kate really shines. She is really good at translating our thoughts and ideas onto paper, and she is much better artist than I am. We pull a lot of inspiration from mid century design and shaker style furniture. Then once we have a design that we like, it's on to the shop for prototype building. I'll usually use a less expensive wood or ply wood for this part of the process because typically the first one or two prototypes will be discarded. Sometimes it can take a few efforts to get the final vision for the piece to come to fruition. But then once we get it, I'll make templates from the prototype and recreate the piece using a higher quality material. It can be a long process depending on the piece. Sometimes it is quicker than others, but it's not often you get it on the first try. Experimenting and failing is part of learning and growing as a wood worker. I'm continually finding new ways to improve how I go about building these pieces. 

Where do you source your materials from?

We like to use local saw mills to source our materials. They have a variety of different types of domestic and exotic woods. Sometimes we will take fallen trees and we go and get them milled for lumber that we can use in the future. I would say that the majority of our material comes from Texas.

What's your favorite sound in nature?
Where we live is pretty secluded. So in the mornings, usually while we are reading and drinking coffee, we can really hear the birds singing outside. It really creates a beautifully calm atmosphere to start the day. It also reminds us of how blessed we are to live where we do, surrounded by trees and wildlife.

Things that make a house feel like a home?
For us hospitality is a huge part of our home. We want to create an environment for people to be welcomed. Our home is not big so being creative and thoughtful with our furniture is key. For example, our Boxcar Stool is primarily used as a side table but when people come over we can use it as extra seating. Also, what makes our house feel like a home is a sense of warmth and natural feeling that we get by using hardwood products throughout our space. Nowadays so much synthetic goods are made because its cheaper but they just don't give the same warmth that we desire. 

What makes Pastrana Studio special?
The thought and intentionality behind each piece. We don't create anything that we don't use ourselves.

Quotes or advice to live by?
The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Julian: I would choose fine woodworker and master craftsmen, the late Sam Maloof. He is a big inspiration to me and it would be nice to be able to pick his brain about what he learned over all his years of building furniture.

Kate: Alfreda Maloof, Sam's wife. She was responsible for encouraging Sam's craft and his biggest supporter. I would love to soak up her wisdom on how to better encourage Julian. She was also an artist herself and spent a lot of time in New Mexico, which is a favorite of ours. I can just imagine the four of us sitting there, Julian and Sam talking about technical woodworking and Alfreda and I art and design.

Describe Pastrana Studio in three words.
Quality, Heirloom, Timeless
images via pastrana studios

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