Asa Gorman on Finding Meaning in Quality Craftsmanship

A passion for philosophical thought deepens Asa Gorman’s relationship with the structures he builds. “I like that sense of permanence that comes with well-done construction,” says Gorman, owner of Asa Gorman Builders. After studying philosophy in college, Gorman transferred his search for meaning in intellectualism onto an exploration of aesthetics and craftsmanship in construction. In this installment of our MH+D Inside Out series, Gorman tells us how he approaches building with consciousness and respect for the work.

Q. How would you describe your aesthetic?

A. I don’t have a building aesthetic, but I like working with people who do. Whether that’s a designer or a homeowner who has a vision for a project and good design sense, their aesthetic makes it interesting for me. I pride myself on my craft, as well as my ability to collaborate with others to realize that vision. Any style can look good; you just have to execute it well.

Q. What do you think is most important about executing a project well?

A. I think a lot of people don’t necessarily focus on the anatomy of a house. In a building, beauty is just as much about the things that you don’t see on the surface as the ones that you do. It’s about coordinating all the internals so that, by the time you’re at the end stage, the systems integrate with the finished project. Those can’t just be tacked on. You really have to build the house from the inside out to make it an integrated whole. It’s important to be conscious of all aspects of the home rather than combatting problems as they arise.

Q. How do you make that happen?

A. I focus on finding subcontractors and collaborators who I enjoy working with. Everyone has to deeply respect the work itself because each person involved has cascading implications for the whole project.

Q. On your Instagram, you post images of the projects at various states. Why is that?

A. There are lots of times where the skeleton of a house is not very photogenic. It just looks like layers and layers of wood, but I do find it beautiful when relatively ordinary things are done well. I’ve even taken pictures of spray foam. It’s just a chemical that’s applied to a surface. Even so, it’s beautiful. I love and take pride in the completed details and surfaces of a house, but there is artfulness throughout the process that makes the finished product possible.

Q. What inspires you about building?

A. At the end of the day I like producing something beautiful and durable. It takes a lot to undo physical manifestations of this craft. And the more beautiful the object, the less likely that it will be undone. I like that temporal solidity.