Words: Alyssa McClanahan / Photos: Jon Medina
In this second issue of Kunst, we follow Rob and Luke Bennett of the design, development and construction company Karvoto. These two brothers from Franklin, Kentucky, have been craftsmen and businessmen since their teenage years. Never ones to shy away from new skills or challenges, they know woodworking, construction, real estate and development. Their diversity of work—that they can “reinvent themselves”—showcases their evolution as successful entrepreneurs and their belief that craftsmanship means unabashed and evolving creativity. Kunst shares their life stories.
We learn how Rob built log and timber-frame homes for years before getting into real estate and development, and how Luke bought a CNC router and taught himself to replicate historic building components like cornices, trim work and spindles with the machine.
And we discover how, despite disparate paths for a time, Rob and Luke joined forces to form Karvoto in Cincinnati, their “construction company that did everything from concrete work and roofing to kitchen renovations and custom woodworking.” Most recently, as Kunst shares, Karvoto purchased several buildings on Wade Street in Over-the-Rhine. “Beginning in 2016, their first phase of the project includes nine single-family homes, four of which are historic buildings that will be renovated and five of which will be new infill. From [John Stoughton, Karvoto’s architect]’s imaginative designs, exterior renderings show that two of the infill properties will be overbuilds on top of existing, mid-20th century garages. ‘There’s a creative solution to everything we produce as an office, and we try to push for that,’ John shares. At the public library, John researched the buildings’ histories and discovered that one of the 19th-century owners of the properties was a reputable stairwell builder in Over-the-Rhine.
Preservation-minded, Rob and Luke decided to feature a custom staircase in each unit of their new Hillman Point project. Fabricated in their shop and craned in, the stairwells—and also that Karvoto named the project after Hillman, the stairway builder—are their ‘way to acknowledge the history of the site,’ as John describes. Since they believe in ‘restoring what is there,’ as Luke puts it, Karvoto’s plans for infill signal their other interest in innovative, modern design.” Read more in the second edition of Kunst!