Some people take up fly fishing or stamp collecting to relax in their off time.
Architect Cade Hayes makes chairs — sleek, high-end chairs born from solid steel, stretched leather, nylon cording, hemp and jute.
When he isn’t creating homes as a founding partner of the Dust design-build firm, Hayes is in his midtown warehouse workshop, constructing comfortable and aesthetically pleasing places to sit out of piles of raw materials.
The New Mexico native finds the process therapeutic.
“In architecture, you have a vision but have to wait five years before it is finally realized,” Hayes said. “If you have an idea for a chair, you can build it in two weeks. It is like instant gratification.”
It’s also lucrative.
Hayes’ chairs range in price from $1,200 to $5,000 depending on the size and materials.
He caters to a national audience. His pieces can be found in homes from New York to California and throughout the Southwest.
Gallery owner Eric Firestone sold several of Hayes’ chairs when he displayed them at his now-closed art gallery on North Sixth Avenue.
“He is a very talented designer,” Firestone said. “He was just starting to make them at that point. He was working out these designs, making prototypes. I love the idea of process.”
Firestone purchased a few of the chairs for his own personal use and brought them with him when he relocated to New York. They can be found in his home study and in his gallery space in East Hampton.
“His designs are very reminiscent of the designs of Max Gottschalk,” Firestone said. “They have a nice look that I felt I could do something with.”
Hayes, 36, has always had a creative spirit.
He grew up in Carlsbad, N.M., a small town in the lower Pecos River Valley with a population of around 26,000.
His father was a welder. Hayes spent his youth working on projects with dad and taking art classes in school.
“I was always moving my hands,” he said.
Hayes learned about the art of furniture making in classes at Texas Tech University, where he earned a master’s degree in architecture in 2002.
He continued to dabble in furniture design after landing a job in Tucson with high-concept architect Rick Joy shortly after graduating.
Hayes launched Dust with fellow Texas Tech alum and longtime friend Jesús Robles in 2007.
The duo’s signature project, a 3,650-square-foot home built from rammed earth, is located just beyond the borders of Saguaro National Park West.
Dubbed Tucson Mountain Retreat, the project was chosen as one of Architectural Record’s top-designed “record houses” in April and was used as a backdrop for a Calvin Klein photo shoot over the summer.
“You are always running projects or managing people in order to get a house built,” Hayes said. “The thing missing for me was needing to build something.”
Hayes does not object to using wood but sticks primarily to what he knows best.
Stock steel is purchased from Santa Rita Steel & Hardware Co. Inc. on South Santa Rita Avenue and Industrial Metal Supply, a chain supply company Hayes refers to as the Walmart of metal, on East Columbia Street.
Leather is purchased from the Tandy Leather Factory, which has two locations in Tucson.
“I like having the natural with the steel,” he said. “Having something soft and tactile, with the raw and cold, the juxtaposition.”
He sells chairs through the Dust website and Larrea Mercantile online shop, alongside tables and other pieces of home decor created by Robles. The two often collaborate with Peter Baer, owner of Baer Joinery, and other skilled woodworkers to create larger pieces of furniture.
Hayes said the challenge for both of them is dividing their time properly.
“Sometimes it requires burning the midnight oil,” he said. “Jesus has kids. I don’t, so it is a little bit easier for me.”
Architecture will always come first for Hayes.
Even now, as chair commissions have picked up, he is putting most of his focus on a home that Dust is building for a vintner in the San Rafael Valley, south of Patagonia.
His goal is to one day reach a point where he will be able to hire skilled craftsmen to help him create chairs.
He’d also like the time and money to work out all his designs. He has more than 30 down on paper.
“I’d like to sell thousands,” he said.