Project Long Talk

Pilar Proffitt ’89’s home encapsulates the liberal arts experience. She and her husband/business partner Robert Bristow, work, live, and learn all within their self-designed campus: a modern yet rustic glass-walled farmhouse. I sat with the couple at their handmade kitchen table looking out onto the stunning raw land.

A stone’s throw from the Hotchkiss School, their home in Lakeville, CT, is the headquarters for Poesis Design. Proffitt and her husband create architectural, interior, and furniture designs. They chose the name Poesis because it means “to make.” Proffitt says, “It’s all about approaching design in an interdisciplinary way. We want all elements of our work to align.”

Proffitt’s Trinity education started with an engineering major, evolved into fine arts, and led her into a Master of Architecture degree program at Virginia Tech (where she and Bristow met). Proffitt immediately states she was glad to have had a liberal arts education. She says, “Broad experiences dictate the breadth and depth of your work. Ultimately, my broad experiences at Trinity inform what I do now.” Proffitt recalls Professor Michael Fitzgerald of the Fine Arts Department as a particularly formative person in her Trinity education. She remembers her senior thesis installation like it was yesterday, laughing as she remembers the peanut butter and banana sandwiches she served to her guests. Her work as a senior at Trinity highlighted the juxtaposition between poetic and conceptual art. 

In addition to having a varied education, I asked them what it’s like to work with your significant other. Bristow says, “We are married in many ways, and feed off each other—but maintain our own identities as designers.” They discussed a “me, we” mentality that they maintain as their joint identity comes into fruition with projects. Their main goal is to grab what the client is about, adopt it to their own skills and deliver something far better than the client ever expected. Proffitt embodies the idea of doing what you love first, and being rewarded second. Her accomplishments have been recognized by major publications like The New York Times, NPR, and Vogue.

Before I left, I was treated to a tour of their house, designed and crafted entirely by the couple. The grayish-purple accents and patina’d furniture express a combination of comfort and minimalism I have never seen. Proffitt and Bristow love the concept of “graceful wear” in their designs. Bristow says, “Real materials and honest processes infuse the work with authenticity which grounds us in the human continuum.”

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