Nashville Artist Creates One-of-a-Kind Pieces with Materials from the City's Forgotten Homes
For born-and-bred Californian Patrick Hayes, the love-at-first-sight moment when he moved to the South started with the architecture. "Coming from Orange County, where everything was pretty new, I was fascinated by the beautiful hundred-year-old Craftsman-style homes I'd find around Nashville," he recalls. But Hayes' awe quickly turned to disenchantment after learning a hard truth. With Nashville in a real estate boom, developers were plucking up the architectural gems with one intent: to build anew. "It was eye-opening to think that these homes that were built with such integrity didn't seem to matter anymore," he says.
As a recent college grad looking for his next move, Hayes knew saving the homes wasn't an option—so instead, he did the next best thing. He salvaged what he could from the soon-to-be-leveled structures and brought the materials home. Then, as planks of century-old wood filled his apartment, he started building.
What began as a hobby of making reclaimed-wood furniture for his own home soon flourished. Today, Hayes' company, 1767 Designs, churns out distinctly modern furniture and artwork from the recycled bones of Nashville's demolished homes. (He estimates he's saved materials from close to 100 structures since his humble beginnings.) Working primarily with lath—thin strips of wood found within a home's walls that are often overlooked by salvagers—Hayes dreams up artistic concepts with Art Deco and Southwestern influences. In seven years of business, his unique aesthetic has earned him partnerships with retail giants like Pottery Barn and Anthropologie. "I'm really drawn to the work of the early pioneers of modernism," he says. "They were constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of new concepts and techniques, and that's something we try to embody in the work we do."
But just as inspiring to Hayes is the material itself. Through his salvaging career, he has walked the hallways of dozens of Nashville homes, some in disrepair from years of neglect and others that were frozen in time with record collections still on display. "It's always intriguing to think about who was here before me and the stories this place must have to tell," he says.
To that end, Hayes does what he can to preserve their legacies. Every piece churned out at 1767 Designs (named for the number of miles between his first Nashville apartment and his childhood home in California) includes an address—an ode to the place where the aging wood once belonged. "For us, it's not just about creating art from old wood," he says. "This is about a place that meant something to somebody, so our hope is to honor that memory the best way we can."