HOME - INTERVIEW
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
HOME - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
You can be inspired from different approaches while working on different projects and get brand new results. Douglas Barnhard inspired by mid-century architecture and decided to combine his woodworking skills with a passion for building something, and the idea of Sourgrassbuilt birdhouses was born. He takes care to use natural and durable materials in production. With Sourgrassbuilt birdhouses, he offers its customers the opportunity to protect nature and to have a house that reflects the mid-century architectural approach. I talked with Douglas Barnhard, Owner of Sourgrassbuilt, about his life and Sourgrassbuilt birdhouses.
Douglas, before talking about Sourgrassbuilt, could you tell us about your background and carpentry experience?
I grew up in Los Gatos, CA and took Art and Drafting classes in school. I loved architecture but decided to pursue painting, surfing, and skateboarding in Santa Cruz, CA. I got a job as a Cabinet Maker because I love working with wood and building things. I eventually started my own cabinet business Design Built and have been a successful business owner designing and building for the last 20 years.
Could you tell us about Sourgrassbuilt?
I have always loved designing things and over the years I have made custom furniture, surfboards, and planter boxes, But my love for architecture inspired me to create birdhouses that paid homage to some of my favorite architects and builders including Joseph Eichler, Frank Lloyd Wright, and The Bauhaus School in Germany. The response was overwhelming and so my wife and I decided to start a business selling birdhouses. In 2016, we started our business Sourgrassbuilt. It began as an Etsy shop with a few select birdhouses but our business began to grow to attract Sunset Magazine naming me "Best Maker" and followed with articles in Design Milk, Art and Architecture and Oprah Magazine. We started our website in late 2016 and we now sell over 15 different designs that are handmade and built by me.
How does living in Santa Cruz affect your design approach?
Growing up In Santa Cruz, CA has influenced the way I design and build. Besides drawing inspiration from the Ocean, the thriving skate and surf counterculture has taught me to see outside the lines. To believe in myself and create what I am passionate about and not what is popular.
Why did you prefer to design your birdhouses with mid-century modern architecture? What makes the mid-century modern architecture approach special for you?
Growing up in the Bay Area I have always loved mid-century modern homes. The clean lines and bringing the outdoors inside. Some of my most popular birdhouses were inspired by mid-century modern neighborhoods around me including San Rafael, Sunnylands, and Highlands.
What do you care about the most during the design and production process?
My birdhouse designs are organic and inspired by everything around me and architects that I admire. I use only repurposed or high-end materials purchased locally in Califonia. I prefer to mix textures of wood and colors, for example, the Sunset Modern incorporates Bamboo, teak, and high gloss white and orange laminate. It is important that I try to use scraps from my cabinet business to design the birdhouses.
What kind of materials do you prefer to use in the production of Sourgrassbuilt birdhouses?
I prefer to use recycled and repurposed materials. Most of the birdhouses are made with Bamboo plywood, teak, and mahogany. I also like to incorporate high-end gloss laminate to give the birdhouses a pop of color. Using green, orange, and other colors incorporate that mid-century modern design.
Besides your birdhouses, what are your other products?
I design furniture sold locally in Santa Cruz, and Modern bread boxes. I also love designing planter boxes.
Social media platform are a new showcase for innovative brands. What do you think about the power of social media on buyers' decisions?
Social media is essential for any business to thrive and has played a major role in our company. We have spent very little on marketing our birdhouses. But through word of mouth and online articles about our business, it has increased our customer base. We have had over 40 online and print magazines that have featured Sourgrassbuilt. Also, Facebook and Instagram have allowed me to share my new designs and ideas to our customers.
How can our readers follow Sourgrassbuilt?
You can follow us on Instagram @sourgrassbuilt and Facebook @sourgrassbuilt.
How can our readers buy Sourgrassbuilt birdhouses and other products?
To purchase birdhouses and other products you can visit our website at Sourgrassbuilt.com
What is next for you?
I love designing and building new products. Over the last few years, I have visited Hawaii and found inspiration in the culture, architecture, and island lifestyle. I would like to spend some time living in Hawaii with my family and soak in the island life to create and design new products for sourgrassbuilt
Thank you Douglas for your time.