Meet Alex + Emily, the couple behind the Dallas, Texas based Gaston Made. What started out as wood scrapes, turned coasters for a handmade Christmas gift for Alex’s family a few holidays ago, has evolved into a furniture and home goods small business. Alex is a wood worker, learning the trade from his Dad, while Emily is a textile designer. Together, they made their first set of coasters in 2014 and have been creating goods sought out by Texas locals since. We recently had a chance to tour their studio space and learn about what makes Gaston Made so unique.
Tell us about your studio space.
We live in the heart of Dallas in this little 1930s Tudor. The previous owner was a craftsman as well (destiny!), so we were lucky the house came with a mostly finished attic space and the beginnings of a garage wood shop. We’ve customized both for our needs, building in custom work tables and storage to suit all the tiny corners. We love the spirit of the place. It’s like things were just meant to be made here.
Tell us about your design and manufacturing process.
We both like to come up with design ideas. We typically make a quick sketch, discuss, draw it again, and then Alex will mock it up in the shop. Using the coasters as the perfect example, our designs evolve over time. First we added cork, then we added the groove, and I have made new jigs to make the manufacturing faster. We still make all of it by hand, with no help from another source or robotics.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Since it’s just the two of us, we’re going non stop. Emily wakes up at 6:30 to do some work before she leaves for her day job. Anything from cleaning up the studio to our social media to marbling paper. While she does that, I make breakfast and coffee, then we try to sit down together for at least 5 minutes to discuss business needs for the day. Emily leaves around 8:30, then I typically start out by going over emails, quickbooks, and packing up orders (with a second cup of coffee) then I head to the wood shop. I’m between the wood shop and the studio until about 7 when Emily gets home, then we start dinner (or order in if we’re on a deadline.)
What (or who) inspires you the most?
We take a lot of cues from Mid-Century Modern and Scandinavian design, we love the idea that the functional things you need in your home can also be clean, beautiful, and affordable. We also use a lot of our own experiences (and our customers’ experiences) to inform designs. Chances are, if we encounter a design problem we want to solve in our everyday lives, we’ll apply that to an idea for Gaston Made. For example, we added the groove set into the center of all our coasters to help prevent drinks from sticking to the wood after a suggestion from a friend.
What is it like being a maker in America right now?
We believe this is the best its ever been to be a local maker in the USA. There is a large and growing appreciation for all things hand made and local. If you are in or near a decent size city, you can find a market to sell your goods on a very regular basis. west elm definitely saw it coming, as they have been a proponent of local makers for a long time now.
Why do you love the Texas area?
Texas, and Dallas especially, is such a great community for makers. The diversity, creativity, and sheer amount of great people here is amazing. Texans connect to individuality and they have a real sense of state identity.