Tula was the capitol city of the ancient Toltec civilization and the home of my ancestors, who were innovators in designing and building sustainable living spaces for this heavily populated ancient city. The sound and sturdy pyramids they constructed still stand today in central Mexico and serve as my inspiration. My team and I carry on the vision of my ancestors now in our contemporary world, sharing their commitment to developing practical, sustainable living spaces in a world that continues to have limited resources. The special projects of TULA will stand the test of time just as the pyramids of ancient Tula still stand. Luis Saga, Creative Director
TULA's Creative Director, Luis Saga, spent his days in pharmaceutical labs. White coat, pens in his pocket, calculators, the whole thing. Educated as a chemist, and driven like a pioneer, Luis ran the numbers and worked the formulas for the medicines and the cures we've come to accept as life saving. For twenty years he spent growing attached to Seattle, a far cry from his native Mexico, and as the pharmaceutical industry changed and left the Pacific Northwest for browner pastures, Luis had established himself and his family in the Emerald City.
But before he'd fully given up his lab coat, he'd realized the value of the Seattle house. They were everywhere - losing their luster, hidden behind overgrown yards, neglected and even abused. He saw them not as the permanent scars of an aging city, but as some kind of hope for the future if only someone would put in the effort.
He bought one of them, and then another, and another and for each of them he breathed new life into it, and learned quite a bit about what's involved when taking a house from old and run down to good, and from good to great, great to awesome. He'd saved them from the end stages of urban decay, and brought them back to life.
When jumping in to the restoration industry, you rub elbows with a lot of people, from counter guards in government offices, to tile setters, and from random workers wielding shovels, to angry neighbor's wielding really bad attitudes. Like a boiling pot of soup, it's pretty mixed up. But over time certain people find success and start gravitation toward each other, and in late 1997, Luis Saga met Antonio Lazo.
Some photographers may look at the image above and be instantly attracted to it. They'll like the colors, the texture, maybe even the composition and the crop. Others may say it's took dark, too saturated, or simply done too many times. When Luis met Antonio, he recognized something in him, something about how he approached materials, handled himself on job sites, or his attention to doing things correctly. Luis realized that Antonio did things the way Luis felt they should be done, and with the attitude things should be done with. Like one photographer to another, Luis liked Antonio's style.
Over the next 15 years, Antonio and Luis worked off and on on various projects in a city that didn't really seem to have a compass, like Seattle's sails didn't have a convincing wind. Then in 2008 the market was being blown all over the place. Masts snapped, sails ripped, and ships sank all over the map. Many people with the best laid plans lost everything. But as the saying goes, calm seas never made good sailors.
Coming out of the roughest of it, Luis and Antonio had endured the storm, if not even grew strength themselves. And on the same boat was architect Theo Bernardi, materials artist Matt Hooks, and business developer Martin Castenada. Together they formed a crew who could sail rougher seas, and not lose their direction, or hope for a better outcome for Seattle.