The Art and Design of Kindness

Work from the House Industries archive! Promos for Go Go Dolls, The Foo Fighters, The Presidents of the United States of America and Rancid.
Work from the House Industries archive

When this past weekend started, I was emotionally drained.

My wife mentioned needing some unique Christmas gifts and we had the idea to visit the shop at House Industries in Yorklyn, Delaware. Earlier this year, through a miscommunication with Rich Roat, we had tried to visit the store on a Sunday with some friends, and we didn’t make it in. Rich had promised that he “owed us a favor” for this missed connection. I emailed him around 8:30am, I figured he’d be available on a Saturday and he could open the store door and we could poke around a quickly and let him get back to his weekend.

He emailed me back right away writing:

“The place is a real yard sale right now because we have all of our archive junk in the shop. We’re finishing up a book and it has been our photography staging area. I sure owe you a visit, so I will meet you there at your convenience.”

I considered that Rich’s idea of House Industries “junk” most likely means incredibly rare work with stories attached to them. I began a quiet mini freak out of excitement. I remained composed, and arranged a time and met Rich there. We walked into the store at the proper time and met Rich. He apologized again for “the mess”, but I was so fixated on all of it, I didn’t even comprehend his words of apology.

I was immediately transfixed and at home in the mounds of typography inspired objects, custom clothing, priceless print tests, and photos of vintage House Industries work. I’m not sure if I blinked in the hour we were there.

For instance: check out the band promo shots done for MTV back in the day shown above. Rich’s calm energy and sharp memory for design history and his company’s history was deep, humbling and inspiring. About four or five times, Brooke and I kept trying to buy things that were historical for House. We’d pick something extremely rare up, and Rich would smoothly glide over and intervene by quietly saying “I don’t think I can let you leave the store with that one.” He would then break into an explanation about the piece, and why it was so priceless. We would all laugh at the idea of selling it, and move on.

This was the first time in a week or more I completely forgot about what my wife and I were going through. We were both relaxed and invigorated from the design history and personal stories we were experiencing.

Somehow the tour wasn’t enough for Rich. After spending an hour with us, he handed us both goodie bags filled with a bunch of cool knick-knacks. I left hoping that one day Rich finds another reason to “owe me a favor”.

Thank you Rich Roat and House Industries for your Delaware location, vast skill, commitment to design, and of course, kindness.

“Design is a solution. If you do it well enough one day it may be considered art.” -Rich Roat

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