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June 27, 2013
Originally published in America the Beautiful
A trio of design studios forms a distinctly American picture of modern design: Despite their regional differences, all three produce forward-thinking products and furniture made using time-tested craft and fabrication methods. Here, we take a look at Dust from the Southwest.

Tucson designers Cade Hayes and his partner Jesus Robles make their line of steel chairs by hand.

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Door handle with vault-like opening mechanism.

Dust designed this door handle with a mechanism similar to that of unlocking a vault—it opens with ease even though the door is heavy.

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Local fabricator Kent Willert forged the steel for the door handle.

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Leather and steel lounge chair.

The Larrea lounge combines a latigo leather sling seat with a powder-coated steel frame.

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american made design dust regular

Tucson designers Cade Hayes and his partner Jesus Robles make their line of steel chairs by hand.

After studying architecture at Texas Tech, designer pals Cade Hayes and Jesus Robles did respective stints for innovative Tucson, Arizona, architect Rick Joy and Sebastian Mariscal’s San Diego–based design-build firm. In 2007, the pair struck out on their own, founding Dust, their own one-stop design shop in Tucson. With one stunning house to their credit—and some architectural hardware and one-off jewelry pieces—Hayes and Robles have trained their considerable design acumen and maker’s know-how toward furniture, particularly a line of steel chairs. Made of U.S. steel, with leather and fiber backing, Dust’s chairs are heavy and low, earthbound seats with muscular frames.

Hayes and Robles make them with occasional help from Hayes’s father, Woody, a welder—a detail that hits Hayes on a gut level: “Objects can hold some part of the person that created them,” he reflects. “There is richness in knowing someone made something by hand.” And, as architects, they see the relatively quick developmental period for each chair as a boon. Says Hayes, “The instant gratification of taking an idea into three-dimensional form in such a short time is very satisfying.”

“We think of Dust as not only a design-build firm,” says Hayes, “but also as a multidisciplinary studio: architecture, construction, furniture, jewelry, interiors. Our ethos is rooted in the ideas of the old master builder, the architect-craftsman.”

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