Design and art intertwine through Spaeth Hill’s new podcast

Hosted by co-founder and lead designer of the Alexandria-based company, Nathan Hill, the äntrepō project invites creative experts to discuss their process with local art enthusiasts.

three people in recording studio
Nathan Hill (far right) interviews fine artists Rachel Debuque (left) and Justin Plakas (center) of PLAKOOKIE in the Full Service Radio studio. (Photo courtesy of Spaeth Hill)

It all started with client-focused design strategy. Then a self-designed furniture line and now a studio publication that challenges the boundaries between corporate design and artistry. 

This is how Alexandria-based Spaeth Hill is continuing its practice of specializing in what the company calls “curated moments.” Its most recent moment? The äntrepō project, both a publication and a podcast series, that hopes to open the doors for local residents and internationally recognized talent to have conversations about the intersection between graphic design and fine art.

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“It’s a great way to tap into the shared economy of design,” says Nathan Hill, partner of the company and host of the podcast portion of äntrepō, which launched early September. “The whole project is concerned with interviews from creative people, artists, designers, but it’s really about finding out how they work, what’s their process. It’s what I like to call, as a graphic designer, stepping away from the corporate representations of design.” 

The first episode in the 16-week podcast series debuted on Sept. 6, featuring an interview with Christopher Kardambikis, an artist who explores space, process and form through books, printmaking and drawing. In the near future, Hill will sit down with a typography-focused artist from London and a few other individuals from New York, yet the majority of guests are local in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. 

Before his next show airs live this Friday, we sat down with Hill to discuss äntrepō in detail. Highlights from our conversation are below. 

two men in studio
Nathan Hill (left) sits down with his first-ever guest of the podcast, Christopher Kardambikis (right). (Photo courtesy of Spaeth Hill)

Why a podcast?
It’s really just about having conversations with people in the industry and learning about their process. I ran a similar podcast in the past called Design Intercourse, and it was a big hit. I tend to cold call and ask people myself to participate, which I have done for a few years now and most everybody, like 98% of people are on board with joining. It’s a great opportunity for them to get exposure and most of them have never done a podcast before. 

Talk to me about the process behind launching this project and what it took to create the show.
We partnered with Full Service Radio at the Line Hotel in DC. I pitched them the idea of the show, knowing they had produced shows surrounding the arts, often hosted by folks like me, in the past. And I presented this idea of interviewing creatives, artists and their process, and it’s something they didn’t really have. It’s pretty great—they handle the production in their full-service studio, they give me the room and it’s up to me to meet my schedules and have a lineup. It’s a 16-week show that anyone can listen to on Friday at 11 a.m. or on Apple or Spotify.

What do you hope listeners take away from this show every week?
The first thing I want is for people to really be inspired to create something new and share it with other people. I think when you hear from people who are creating and doing unique things like designing light fixtures, are head of a studio or curating a museum … it’s showing people the behind-the-scenes of design. It uncovers some sort of experiment or way in which people are being expressive in a creative way. 

You’re hosting an episode on Friday, Nov. 8 on your own with no guest appearance. What can readers expect from that?
Well äntrepō has three parts: It’s historical, interview-focused and has an experimental aspect. So, once in a while I do these things called design briefs where I just give a low-down of some idea that is currently inspiring us right now. The entire episode is about half-an-hour to 45 minutes long, with the initial brief lasting between six to 10 minutes. Then there’s always a tie-in to a design or architecture book. The entire episode is a preview for people to read about a historical designer and things we are looking at now in the design world, which will hopefully get people thinking about their own work. 

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