Brenda Houston has long been captivated by the allure of gemstones, crystals and minerals. She gives these exquisite materials pride of place in her opulent tables, lighting, decorative accessories and wallcoverings. What makes Brenda’s work so unique is the nature of these one-of-a-kind materials, and the way she crafts them into her couture furnishings, creating ‘jewelry for the home’. She has steadily been growing a loyal following, counting A-list interiors firms, celebrities, royal family members and luxury hoteliers among her clients.
Brenda launched her namesake design studio in Dallas in 2008. And although she has lived in L.A., New York, and Italy, and traveled all over the world sourcing materials for her collections, she keeps coming back to Dallas for good reason.
I recently sat down with Brenda to chat about how the city has taken off in recent years, and its burgeoning design scene.
What makes Dallas special and the spot you keep coming back to?
I launched my company in Dallas because it made sense economically at the time. I was living in New York when I started the company and I could never have taken a year off to develop designs, So the cost of living here in Texas afforded me the time I needed. And strategically, because it is right in the middle of the US, I can hop on a plane anytime to get to the west and east coasts so I never feel I am missing out.
We keep hearing how Dallas is booming, and people are flocking to Texas from elsewhere. How do you see this affecting the city first-hand?
I have always thought of Dallas as a town that thinks it is a big city but acts like a small town: now that is all about a change! Dallas is growing dramatically at the moment and scheduled to be the third largest metropolis in the US. We have an enormous amount of Angelinos and New Yorkers moving here and you can see their influence in new home designs, landscaping, and interior design. Still, you can get a lot done with just a handshake and that speaks to the heart of Texans.
Tell us about the Dallas design scene? How is it different from the design communities you’ve been a part of elsewhere?
The influx of new artists and designers arriving here from other parts of the US is creating an incredible dynamic and influence that I have never seen before. Dallas is finally coming into its’ own and we are able to keep and encourage great designers to stay in Big D! Dallas has always had a strong art movement and that is finally crossing over into design where people are beginning to appreciate investing in their interiors. And whereas L.A. and N.Y. rely heavily on their Design Centers, Dallas has small communities of designers and artists scattered throughout the city which makes it really fun to get out and explore.
Favorite off the beaten path Texas destination?
Twice a year the Round Top fair is held in the blink and you’ll miss it town of Round Top, Texas. You absolutely have to go and experience this amazing shopping experience – antiques, rugs, salvaged architeural items, apparel, etc. Now key Texas designers such as Chad Dorsey and Margaret Naeve are bringing their touch of modernism to the show and showcasing curated goods at a new section called The Hales.
Your favorite insider Dallas destination?
The Tins neighborhood in Dallas across the Sylvan bridge is a secret underworld of fabulous artists that now call Dallas their home. Developed by Butch McGregor, this neighborhood contains the studios of Dan Lam, James Rizzi, Michael Reeder and many others. One would never know what hides behind these graffiti covered warehouses but boy is it worth it!
Any other spots design aficionados should add to their list?
Knox Henderson is becoming a great neighborhood for design retailers such as Restoration Hardware, Serena and Lily and Grange Hall, but I still favor the Dallas Design District (DDD) for true, distinctive offerings like those found at Garde. The DDD offers a number of small showrooms from local artists and that is where you can truly find the one-of-a-kind and custom pieces that make a statement. Our new showroom is located in the DDD.
Top places to eat, socialize, hang?
Network Bar – to socialize, Ten Ramen – to eat, Midnight Rambler – to hang, Tei-An – to eat, Eataly at North Park Mall – to eat, drink, shop and socialize!
Your favorite way to spend a weekend day in Dallas?
I would start off with breakfast in Bishop Arts followed by a bike ride along the Trinity. Then I’d walk through the Nasher Museum or the DMA, before heading to Tei-An for dinner and drinks at The Joule.
Best thing about Dallas?
All the new growth! To see a city, grow so rapidly and quickly is exhilarating and I love being a part of it! Our downtown skyline finally competes with the best of the best bigger cities!
Worst thing about Dallas?
The weather. If you don’t like 30 degree mornings, just wait, it will be 80 degrees by the afternoon! The weather is never dull here, but does make it hard to organize your closet!
Thanks for these insider tips Brenda. We can’t wait to explore Dallas more!
Check out VENU Magazine for the full article and other stories on art, design and contemporary culture.