Dusty Rose goes dude with Thomas Isaac
Dusty Rose doesn't usually sell men's vintage online, but we couldn't miss the opportunity to to interview the talented Mr. Thomas Isaac. So we pulled some pieces normally reserved for in-person clients and did a quick photoshoot with him on a sunny Saturday in Brooklyn. Our adoration for Thomas is somewhat biased because we've known him since he was getting his MFA at UPenn in 2006. He is a brilliant visual and performance artist, always full of ideas that we want to be a part of. That's why we were eager to learn more about his latest endeavor.
Tell us about the project you're working on in Arizona.
The project began with the concept of sustainable housing on the Reservation where I grew up. I have always wanted to give something back to the place I was raised - part of the Painted Desert within the Navajo Nation. Several ideas have been buzzing around my head for years. But this one project, based on the Navajo hogan, has started to gather some momentum. Our project is called "RE-HOGAN".
What is a hogan?
The hogan is the traditional dwelling of the Navajo (pronounced "ho-gahn"). There have been variations on the structure throughout history, but the common structure is octagonal with wooden, log walls and a wooden ceiling with an oculus (opening) in the roof. The exterior is covered by mud or adobe. Besides being very robust in a desert climate, the hogan is an extension of the spiritual side of the Navajo people. Different sides of the hogan represent different aspects of Navajo spirituality, so the hogan is very much rooted not only in the land but in the people and their history. Many people today still live in hogans or at least have them for ceremonial purposes on the reservation. My collaborators and I want to experiment with this structure, to create a piece of sustainable housing designed for visitors, while holding onto the cultural and architectural heritage of our home.
It sounds like intensely personal work...
It has deep meaning for me. The area for the RE-HOGAN is where my father's people live. Building a RE-HOGAN close, very close, to where my family live has deep and flowing symbolism. With this project, I not only want to build a bridge between the outside world and the Navajo but also between my own family roots and myself.
What stage are you at?
We are still at the design phase of the project, so there are many more steps to go. But we have traveled a long way. We have completed the first phase of drawings. You can see a map of where we intend to build here, and some photos of the site here.
I cannot express enough gratitude to my collaborators: Taka Sarui and Julia Molloy. They are the principals and founders of the XLXS architecture firm. Without them, this project would be nowhere. The way we collaborate, I convey what elements and principles I think should be incorporated into the structure, and then trust their design intuition and ability to realize a unique yet culturally appropriate design.
It's my hope that, once completed, the RE-HOGAN will help bridge the cultural gap between the Navajo and the outside world, through tourism. Our goal with RE-HOGAN is for tourists to visit the Navajo Nation, and live in this modern dwelling as a private hostel. Visitors will experience the beauty of Northern Arizona - its sun and its silence - and make a more complete connection to desert beauty. With the initial design phase complete, we're moving to secure the site, create the business plans and build the structure. We are looking to the spring 2011 for groundbreaking and then a quick completion. Hopefully, if all goes well, you will be able to experience the RE-HOGAN in AZ in the spring or summer of 2011.
Can readers volunteer to be involved in construction, or help in any other way?
Yes, absolutely. Anyone inspired by the project and curious to learn more or get involved should email Dusty Rose, and you guys can share my contact info. That would make me happy.
Last few questions. How would you describe your personal style?
It used to be grunge, but I never thought I was cool enough to be completely grunge, for some reason. But now, I'd say it's western wear, with a sense for the 1890s. But I like to try and push myself fashion-wise, albeit on a low-cash budget.
What was your favorite part of the Dusty Rose Vintage shoot?
I really loved the Han solo tan jacket. And having fun on the streets being a model. And the fact that there was a wedding that involved bagpipes happening in the background for a lot of the shoot.