For this week’s Friday Five, we check in with the London-born Brandon Haw who is the President and CEO of his eponymous, New York-based architecture and design studio. Growing up in the 60s with artist parents, Haw gravitated to the minimalist and conceptual art world that the period was known for. After attending London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, he crossed the pond and earned his Master’s Degree in Architecture from Princeton University. After school and until 1987, Haw worked on commercial high rise projects at the New York offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill before returning back to London. Over the next 26 years, he rose to Director and Senior partner in the office of Lord Norman Foster, where he oversaw a variety of projects including the Hearst Tower in NYC, the Faena House residential project in Miami, the HSBC World Headquarters in London, and the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt. 2010 saw a move back to the USA to head up the offices of Foster and Partners before setting up his own practice in 2014 in the famed Mies Van der Rohe Seagram Building. Here, Brandon Haw gives us a look at five things that keep him happy and inspired.
1. Bridget Riley’s, 19 Greys
Having been born into a family of artists, an appreciation of the visual and performing arts is part of my DNA. I am particularly fond of Bridget Riley’s seminal 19 Greys (1968), a series of four color studies, which I am fortunate enough to wake up to every morning. Their control and complexity not only captures the essence of her work from the beginning of her prolific career, but they also remind me, as my minimalist father taught me, that a good base structure always underlies — creativity.
2. Le Presbytere, Pays Basque
Le Presbytere is our home in the Pays Basque. Located 40 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and 40 minutes from the peaks of the French Pyrenees, this is my spiritual retreat. Great food and wine, and a place to recharge and ground oneself in the simplicity of this rural community. I am always particularly aware of the weather and seasonal cycles here. From hikes along the peaks with far reaching views across the mountains to windswept walks along the expansive sand dunes, this place – brings me to a point of quiet reflection and connection to the earth and sky.
I love books, all kinds. Books on art, on design, on nature, on politics, on philosophy, on economics, you name it. One of my most loved possessions is the large format GOAT (Greatest of All Time) boxed volume on the life of Muhammad Ali by Taschen. Not only was he one of recent history’s most remarkable human beings, but the book reminds me of my own grandfather’s humble and tough beginnings. When he taught me to box it was more about self-respect and discipline, than the desire to physically hurt someone.
4. Latin Music
The ability for music and dance to bring people together from all walks of life never ceases to impress me. My travels throughout South America opened my inner rhythms to the joys of Salsa, Cumbia and Palenque music: popular music of the indigenous regions of Colombia with roots in African tribal music fused with indomitable Latin percussion and accompanied by words and stories to make ones heart cry with joy and sadness!
5. Horseback Riding
There is something entirely visceral and exhilarating about horseback riding. I am always in awe at the ease by which the “vaqueros” treat the horses, just as if they were an extension of their own being, such is the everyday unthinking relation between the two. Riding amongst the steep hills and valleys of the Colombian landscape takes me to a different time and place, far away from my other great love New York City.