Chris Nagle has a keen eye for design. He still remembers the lone wildflower atop the dining table shared with his partner on their first date and his father’s painting, carpentry, and sculpting work that set the creative path for Chris to explore. This pursuit ultimately led to his teaming up with Adam Slone in 2019 to launch Provincetown’s Outermost – a collection of art and furnishings that is chic but not cliché. Let’s find out why John Waters may not be shopping there anytime soon.
Kevin Assam: What sort of queer neighborhood where you confined to growing up and who in the family first identified your colorful spirit?
Chris Nagle: I lived in a small New Hampshire town for many of my formative years. It was very small in its thinking. If by “confined” you mean the imprisoned sense, then there you have it: small-town New Hampshire. Thank God there were second-home owners from cultured areas who knew the world was round. My godmother first identified my colorful spirit. My parents were too busy raising four kids all within five years of each other. Three are gay. There is a lot of color in this family. A whole F-ing rainbow under one roof.
What was your first queer experience with a home furnishing and did you immediately journal about it?
My parents had a butterfly chair in our A-frame house and I was completely aroused by its shape. It was rather unisex, but much sexier with men in bellbottoms sitting in it. And no, I didn’t journal about it. I kept all my early queer furnishings experiences to myself, unrecorded.
How did you decide on the name “Outermost” and how much trouble would I be in if I broke something at the store?
“Outermost” came from the title of the 1928 book from naturalist Henry Beston, The Outermost House. He spent one full year, including winter, in a 150-square-foot cottage called The Fo’c’sle, on the Great Outer Beach. I have since loved that word – how it sounds, describes the land and seascape, and describes the feeling of standing at the water’s edge on our outer beaches. It speaks of the people: the curious, the characters, the artists. As for breaking something in the store, I would abandon all sense of peace and love and restrict your shopping to the few blocks in the very center of town, what we call “Taffy Alley.” There you can break all you want.
What were the designs that featured throughout your first date with your partner?
The visual elements I remember most include the tiny lone delicate wildflower on the restaurant table, the stroll through the architecturally gorgeous historic center of Concord, Massachusetts, and sucking face in the most beautifully designed vehicle – my vintage Toyota Land Cruiser.
What are the Outermost rules of engagement for contemporary dating when there is a sizable age gap?
Tough one. Make sure that [in considering] the age difference that the math is secondary to the connection. The energy between you has to be above the numbers. Don’t use the age difference to be something you’re not. Be your age. And above all else, dress your age.
Outermost’s fancy kitchen and dining ware are as queer as a 69-degree angle. Have you forsaken both straight lines and straight people with your whimsical plates, bowls, and goblets fit for a dinner with John Waters?
Queer, but not whimsical queer. More Greek or Roman queer – ancient, simple, strong shapes. Smooth. Natural. Architectural. In an early concept exercise, I was asked what Outermost was not. I said not whimsical, not fleeting, not playful, nor glossy. John Waters would yawn or doze off if dinner were served on my things and that’s what I was after. Stylish straight women are loving this. If together with gay men they are buying, you’ve done good.
How have you put your own spin on the classic sweater or pullover look in Provincetown?
Only own two of top quality that were bought second hand. Wear them until they fall apart. Never tie it over your shoulders.
Do they fall apart in the hands of a lover or some contraption used to design Outermost products?
They fall apart after getting creased under my saltwater soaked dog in the back seat, eventually corroding the fabric.
How involved do you get with the design process for certain Outermost products? Are those original tees soft enough for bear daddies to hibernate in?
I work with any of the vendors open to creating custom products: ceramic trays, nautical hardware, leather work, tote bags, concrete work, Outermost chair colors, and finishes. Plus, I go junking for all of the vintage pieces. As for the artwork, I don’t allow much in the door that doesn’t fit a certain color palette. No red. No gloss. Nothing bright. Can’t stomach it. As for the tees, there are plenty soft and XL for our beloved bears.
I’ve been admiring a new business owner from afar who never has the time to get together between work. What would be a great not overkill item to gift him from Outermost that communicates my interest to him?
I suggest a pair of our custom color tapered beeswax candles. It says “Slow down and let’s get back to the basics,” but also “Have me to dinner.” It says this loud and clear. If he doesn’t make the next move, move on.
You can alternatively purchase two pairs. Invite the busy boy to dinner and have your own candles burning. Give him a wrapped pair to take home for when he has the time to cook you dinner. Then, when you go to his house, bring him a pair of our vintage candle holders. If he’s that busy, he likely doesn’t have any. Everyone needs a few pairs of good candleholders. The lack of them is a problem in many households. t
Find out more at OutermostHome.com
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