Five Favorite Things: Christopher Hildebrand

Five favorite things (outside of hifi) from Christopher Hildebrand, Fern & Roby, Tektonics Design Group.

Science-Fiction (books & movies)

Science Fiction has always captivated me. It is a genre of writing that breaks away from history / reality by projecting the reader into the author’s imagination of the future, or vision of an alternate existence. This is sometimes hopeful, sometimes horrific, and often both, the same way life is. By exploring a different reality or envisioning the future we are provided with a different perspective on our own life and path into the future.

The exploration of the collision of technology with humanity is also a common subject that fascinates me. It makes us think about our nature and what we are faced with in our own lives currently. As a product designer and craftsman this is especially relevant for me because I am very interested in how my work impacts people’s lives as they live with my work. Is it there to give them relief from some technology, or help them engage in a technology that elevates the human experience, or both?


Cooking is a different kind of design and craft that I love. It has an immediate, deep, & complete engagement with the senses. It is both sustenance for the body and for the soul. Cooking involves a satisfying combination of planning, inspiration, & execution with a wonderful culmination of the experience in appreciating the work by one’s self, or even better with friends. Good food is the foundation of great social ritual and sets the tone for great discourse.


I especially love cooking with produce I have grown, though my gardening is proof that you don’t have to be especially good at something to really enjoy doing it. For the past ten years, I have been slowly learning how to make my garden yield delicious ingredients to experiment with in the kitchen. This has re-shaped my cooking & menu planning by prompting me to explore new kinds of cooking like making Jam, hot sauce, pickling, and other ways to prepare food that has to be cooked all at once when the garden is in high gear.

I also enjoy the slow pace and cyclical nature of the work. You have one season to try your new experiment within. You make your plans, roll the dice, and wait. Once you have raked in the results and composted the failures, you plan for next year’s experiments. This cyclical connection to planting and harvesting food from nature grounds me in my home life and provides me with perspective on the rest of my work.

Business (my work)

I was raised with the belief that we should leave the world in a better state than we find it. This is the foundation of my career and daily work, whether it is learning how to be a better employer & manager, or delving into the planning & accounting aspects of the companies we run. I am rarely on the floor handcrafting work for clients like I did for many years and now I am leading a team that does design work with me. I have had to learn to let others do the work, and how to be a good mentor and steward for my team.

In recent years I have been learning how to lead my team to take over the management responsibilities of the firm. I have had to let go of my certainty about how it needs to be done (according to my own experience & methods) and embrace my own more narrowly defined role in the firm within our new structure. Each step of this process over the past 17 years has required me to move into new and sometimes challenging roles for me to fit into comfortably. It has been humbling and wonderful and has its own cyclical nature, just like gardening does.

Travel, Family, & Friends

I put these together because they revolve around each other for me and my wife. We love to travel to visit new places, and to see friends & family outside of our local lives. These experiences expand and enrich us and keep us connected to where we came from, where we have been, and our hopes for where we will go in the future. Travel isn’t the purpose in our life, but it provides a rich context for shaping what we are doing in our daily lives.